In 1894, like a lot of men of his time, he saw in the Canadian West the opportunity to make something of himself. The 1919 newspaper article tells the story of him obtaining a letter of recommendation from a local Strathroy pastor and then heading west.
After teaching a few years at Victoria Boys Central School
The year 1899 was Arthur Currie's fifth and final as a school teacher in greater Victoria. He spent the first two years at Sidney School near the north end of the Saanich Peninsula, followed by three at the Boys Central School in Victoria city. Photo is from the BC Archives. Alan Macleod of Victoria has put up a series of photos of Currie's life in Victoria.
He became an insurance salesman and real estate broker. His name appears in the 1909 City directory of Victoria as broker. The Provincial Who’s Who of 1909 shows LCol Arthur William Currie as follows:
“His life and achievements in this golden land of promise contain a lesson for the thousands of young men who have come and are yet to come from the four corners of the earth- a lesson of what pluck and industry may accomplish if backed by an imperishable faith in the future greatness of their adopted country”.
He associated himself with the editor of The Colonist in 1900 in the life insurance business and quickly became the Provincial Manager of the National Life Assurance Company. Two years later he formed a partnership with R.A. Powers in insurance and real estate. The directory indicates he “possesses much property in Victoria and surrounding districts”. When the real estate market bottomed in 1914, however, this left him with numerous debts.
In 1897 he continued his interest in things military and joined the 5th Regiment Canadian Garrison Artillery as a gunner. He quickly moved through the ranks, and in 1909 was L Col of the Regiment. It won the general efficiency award 3 years in a row. He was Vice President of the Canadian Artillery Association, president of the BC Rifle Association and was member of the council of the Dominion Rifle Association. He was a Liberal, a Mason, and “a fluent speaker”.
In 1901 Currie married Miss Lucy Sophia Musters, of Comox BC . She was the daughter of a retired British army man William Chaworth Musters and Lucy Byron.
Two children were born, Marjorie and Garner.
Don’t know much about Marjorie, except that there is one post card from Daddy to Marjorie written from Valcartier, that shows a warm regard for his daughter. Marjorie later married Alexander Tilloch Galt Durnford and lived in Montreal working with some charities there.
His son, Garner, became a Lt Col in the Canadian Army, after a childhood with many health problems and anxiety for his mother and father. He married Marion Ekers and they had four children. He was a major in the 28th Armoured Regiment during WW2 and then joined the civil service. He retired in Ottawa in 1972.
In 1913 Currie accepted the challenge of raising an infantry unit, the 50th Regiment Gordon Highlanders of Canada. On 25 October it was announced that Lieut.-Col. Arthur Currie, of the 5thRegiment C.G.A. would be appointed to command. On the next day Major Lorne Ross was appointed Second-in-Command, and Major Garnett Hughes (only son of the Minister of Militia) as junior major.
Currie was highly regarded in militia circles and in 1914, on the outbreak of war, he was selected by Militia Minister Sam Hughes, to command the 2nd Infantry brigade.. His unit went overseas in Sept 1914 and by Feb 1915 was in France . He isn’t to see Victoria until October 1919.
A Hero with Feet of Clay
In 1913 he had received monies to be used for uniforms for the battalion he had raised in Victoria . Instead of putting the funds into a trust account, they were put into his own bank account and at some point were drawn on to meet personal financial commitments.
When it came time to leave for Valcartier, Currie had arranged with friends from Victoria , to cover those funds should they be needed. When the funds were called, however, they did not do as he had arranged.
Currie approached Militia Minister Hughes about the situation but was assured that it would be taken care of. Once news reached the Prime Minister, he had to make a decision. Fire Currie and lose his best general, or speak to him about the matter? Finally Currie arranged for two of his well-to-do friends in the Canadian Corps, to replace the funds. Currie is never charged.
This situation must have preyed on Currie’s mind as he struggled with the leadership of the Canadian Army.