Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour: Francis Pegahmagabow.
Francis Pegahmagabow, MM & Two Bars, was an Ojibwa of the Parry Island Band in Ontario. Orphaned at a young age, at 12 years old he worked at lumber camps and fishing stations. Pegahmagabow enlisted on August 14, 1914 with the 23rd Battalion (Northern Pioneers). Transferred to the 1st Battalion (Western Ontario), he arrived in France in February of 1915. At the front, “Peggy”, as his fellow soldiers called him, displayed exceptional skill as a sniper and scout. By war’s end, “Peggy” was credited with 378 kills and the capture of over 300 enemy soldiers.
Surviving the war, he had served at nearly every major battle of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His exploits on the battlefield became legendary, and Pegahmagabow was one of only 39 Canadians to receive a second bar to the Military Medal. Returning home, “Peggy” became heavily involved in First Nations politics, alternatively serving as Chief and Band Councillor of the Parry Island Band. In 1943 he became the Supreme Chief of the Native Independent Government, an early First Nations institution.
In 2016, a life-sized statue of Pegahmagabow was erected in Parry Sound in tribute to the most highly decorated First Nations soldier and the deadliest sniper of the First World War.