In this year, the sesquicentennial of Canada as a nation, I have been thinking of various Christians who made a vital contribution to the formation of our nation: men and women like Molly Brant, Henry Alline, Henrietta Feller, Timothy Eaton, and, most on my mind at present, Bernard Freeman Trotter (1890–1917).
On the night of May 7, 1917, 2nd Lieut. Trotter, assigned to the Leicestershire Regiment after his enlistment in 1916, had just completed his final convoy for the evening. He congratulated his men for the good work they had done in the midst of the heavy shell fire that they had been experiencing when a high explosive shell exploded quite close to him, throwing him from his horse and killing him instantly. A couple of days earlier, in his last letter home to his parents—his father Thomas Trotter was a professor at McMaster University and later President of Acadia University—he had told them, “Personally I find shell fire far less trying on the nerves when on horseback in charge of a convoy than when crouching in a trench. The psychology of it is I suppose, that one’s mind is so fully occupied with handling one's mount and keeping an eye out for developments that there is no room on the circuit for a realization of actual danger” (Letter of
May 5, 1917; http://www.canadianletters.ca/collections/war/468/collection/20548/doc/221).
Trotter’s fine poems can be found in his A Canadian Twilight and Other Poems of War and Peace (Toronto, 1917).