Share your favorites on Show & Tell

Memorabilia for the 27th Winnipeg Battalion, CEF

In Military and Wartime > World War One > Show & Tell.
World War One577 of 661Photograph " A Great War Veteran is laid to rest" Part IAce High Milk Chocolate Candy Wrapper Boston Mass.
Love it
Like it

CaperkidCaperkid loves this.
BeauxPurdyBeauxPurdy loves this.
jamiedptjamiedpt loves this.
ManikinManikin loves this.
avidgenieavidgenie loves this.
LostinspaceLostinspace loves this.
walksoftlywalksoftly loves this.
scottvezscottvez likes this.
See 6 more
Add to collection

Please create an account, or Log in here

If you don't have an account, create one here.

Create a Show & TellReport as inappropriate

Posted 6 years ago


(310 items)

This is the case of the mysterious John Black

When looking for collectibles, ever feel unusually drawn to something? That’s how I felt with this e-Bay lot awhile back. The items for bid were the framed photo and the cigarette case containing C/27 and Canada title, and a victory medal without ribbon. I was searching for victory medals, but it was the photo that I was inexplicably drawn to, so I went with my gut and bid on it.

When the lot arrived, I noticed the back of the frame was a little bit loose anyway, so I took the photo out of the frame to see if there was anything written on the back. Instead I found tucked behind the photo a marriage certificate for John Black and Emma Johnston dated 1913. The photo of the 27th Battalion CEF, also known as the City of Winnipeg Battalion, was probably taken in 1915, when the battalion was raised. It fought on the Western Front. My thought was “why would someone place a marriage certificate under a photo taken a couple years later of men about to go off to war?” My heart sank at the possibility that John Black didn’t make it back.

There are 5 men named John Black who died in WWI listed on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, none of whom were from the 27th. Could John have been in another unit when/if he died? There are 72 John Blacks listed in the CEF in the Library and Archives of Canada, some of which are missing attestation documents, but the ones that are there do not provide a clear match to our John Black (I assume that if there was a middle name it would be on the marriage certificate, so I didn’t open every file - yet). I even e-mailed the seller to see if she had more information. I learned these items came from a storage unit auction in Ontario, so the seller had no idea who the original owners were.

Other considerations: If John didn’t come back, then how did the Canada shoulder title and C/27 collar insignia get home? Also, the Victory medal isn’t named to John Black, but to a Pte A. Kent in the 13th Canadian Infantry, possibly a different relative in the same family?

All of this is of course speculation. This John Black might not have been a soldier at all. I’m sure there are reasons for that marriage certificate to be behind the photo that have nothing to do with the war. I’m just not sure what those reasons might be.

So, I’m happy to do my own digging, but does anyone have a suggestion where next?

Mystery Solved


  1. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Great photograph!

    "Presentation of Badges"-- probably applies to the "C, 27".

    Have you checked on the wifes name to see if there are any "Johnston" soldiers in C company from the same town? Maybe it was her brother (or other relative) and she attended the ceremony that day.

    Good luck,

  2. walksoftly walksoftly, 6 years ago
    That is a fascinating mystery, I love that photo, it may have been taken outside the Minto Armouries in Winnipeg. This the home of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles AKA " Little Black Devils", A cousin of mine was a member in WWI under the 90th CIB, as well as my Uncle in WW II. I would try contacting the Minto Armoury Museum at
    I noticed that the both people on the marriage certificate are from Rainy River ON this may explain why it ended up in a storage locker in Ontario
    Please keep us posted.

  3. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago

    Actually, I think it refers to the unique cap badge for this battalion, which featured the seal of the city of Winnipeg over a maple leaf. Unfortunately the cap badge wasn't with this lot. The C in this insignia stands for Canadian. I spent too much time writing about the search and not enough writing about the items!

    Good idea about looking up Johnston. I wish I could find the rolls for the 27th Battalion some place. It could be that there was a Black with a different first name. I'll do more checking tonite.
  4. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
    Hi walksoftly,

    I'm pretty sure that's the old city hall building in the upper right of the picture. Here's a picture of that building to compare.

    There is a "Volunteer Monument" in front of that building, although I don't know what the monument dates to, the hall and/or monument seems like a good venue for a Batalion named for the city.
  5. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    I didn't think about the cap badge-- more likely, what was being presented.

    Good luck with the research.

    Even without an ID the photograph is great and shows an unusual scene.

  6. avidgenie avidgenie, 6 years ago
    I checked the roll for the 27th Battalion and no John Black's listed as soldiers. However, there was a James E Johnston listed, regimental #71998, and he lists John Black, stepfather, as next of kin.

    I haven't confirmed that Emma Johnston was his mother but what are the chances that they are related through his marriage. Emma Johnston was listed as a W[idow] on her Ontario marriage registration to John Black in 1913.
  7. walksoftly walksoftly, 6 years ago
    Good work avidgenie!
  8. avidgenie avidgenie, 6 years ago
    Thanks walksoftly. There is a delayed birth for James Ernest Johnston for Ontario and it lists his parents are James Johnston and Emma Emms. Emma Johnston's father on the marriage 1913 registration is George Emms. A copy of her first marriage info confirms it.
  9. walksoftly walksoftly, 6 years ago
    I tried to post some links earlier but they vanished as soon as I hit submit.
  10. walksoftly walksoftly, 6 years ago
    Seymour House, 277 Market Ave. Winnipeg, MB It is the building on the left side of your picture this was across the street from City Hall. Try a search for Winnipeg buildings Seymour House John Steel collection. Hope this works...
  11. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
    I'm just peeking in while at work, so not much time to write - but I want to thank you avidgenie for solving the riddle of who John Black was! You've been so much more than helpful, you've been generous with both your time and your talent. Also, thank you walksoftly for your help in identifying the other building in the photo. Thanks Scott for your input as always.
  12. avidgenie avidgenie, 6 years ago
    You will be happy to know that he returned to Canada in November 1917. If records are right, then he was underage when he enlisted in 1914. The delayed birth registration shows that he was born in 1897 and in the 1901 census he is only 3.
  13. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
    Thanks for the love Kevin, Manikin, avidgenie and walksoftly. Thanks for the like Scott.

    Avidgenie, where did you find the roll for the 27th? I’m glad he made it home. In the battalion’s first battle, St. Eloi, they lost 40 killed and 189 wounded. They would later participate in the deadly Somme offensive.

    Walksoftly, thanks again for mentioning the site for Seymour House, I enjoyed scrolling down and seeing all those great buildings.

    I do wonder how Pte. A. Kent’s victory medal got mixed in with this lot, but I realize we may never know. Since it was loose in the cigarette case it could have been tossed in there at any time in the last 90+ years, and may have nothing to do with the Johnston story. Arthur Kent, 635321, has four attestation documents, which make interesting reading. He seems to start in Montreal, but by the third attestation in April 1917 he is living in Swan River, Manitoba, the attestation signed by the Magistrate in Winnipeg. Previously single, he’s now married to Nellie Kent. The last attestation has him in Saskatoon, discharged as unfit due to illness, and mentioning hearing affected and nerves (previous attestation lists shell shock). The adjutant that signed the discharge, coincidentally, is E. Johnston – and no, the signature does not match our James E. Johnston.
  14. walksoftly walksoftly, 6 years ago
    Wonderful mystery solved, now that photo has a fantastic story to go with it.
    In that link to the post card it shows the the Volunteers monument in front of City Hall & it got me curious as too what happened to it when they demolished the building to put up a new one. It turns out they moved it across the street & it still stands their today, It commemorates the "Little Black Devils" , aka Winnipeg Rifles. The 90th "Winnipeg" Battalion of Rifles came into being on 9 November 1883, their home is now Minto Armouries. They are linked to the Metis Rebellion, & the Battle of "Fish Creek" where they got their name.
    Here is a link:

  15. avidgenie avidgenie, 6 years ago
    I'm a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. Members have posted quite a few of the rolls online.
  16. avidgenie avidgenie, 6 years ago
    Wow, Arthur Kent was determined to serve even after shell shock. It looks like he married Nellia Wray in Winnipeg in 1916.
  17. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
    Thanks for the love Scandinavian and Lostinspace.
  18. walksoftly walksoftly, 6 years ago
    I was going through my Grandfathers post card collection & found one of the Winnipeg City Hall & volunteer Monument, same view as the one you posted the link too. How weird is that!
  19. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
    It's a small world that just keeps getting smaller, walksoftly.
  20. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
    Thanks for the love, jamiedpt.

Want to post a comment?

Create an account or login in order to post a comment.