Milner, Charles William

Regimental Number: M17436
Rank: Lieutenant

Charles was born on December 18, 1897 in Newcastle, England. He had one sister, Agnes. Charles’ mother passed away while quite young and Charles was raised by various family members. After completing two years of High School and 15 months at an Agricultural College, he enlisted in the British Army during WWI and served as a Corporal from March 15, 1915 to February 15, 1919. Charles received the Meritorious Service Medal in 1916. He was transferred to the Air Force in 1918 and underwent training as a pilot. Upon his return, Charles decided to immigrate to Canada and settled in Winnipeg for a short period of time before returning to England. However, he soon realized that employment was scarce. Newspapers after the war were filled ads boasting of the agricultural opportunities available in Alberta. Once again Charles immigrated to Canada and travelled to southern Alberta where he quickly found employment on a farm in the Olds area that was owned by the Brinson family. The Brinson’s had hired their niece, Ruth Brinson, to help look after their large family and she soon met Charles. On February 8, 1928, Charles and Ruth were married at Three Hills. Shortly thereafter, the young couple decided to move to Northern Alberta. They loaded all of their stock, machinery and household furnishings on a government rail-car and hired a fellow to travel in the boxcar with the stock. The Milner’s arrived in Grande Prairie and rented Jim Storm’s farm for two years and then moved to the farm of Bill Storm where they stayed until 1933 when Charles had finished the construction of a large log-home on the homestead. Charles had applied for a homestead (NW-23-71-3-W6) in the Fitzsimmons District in July 1930. A son, Billy was born on August 13, 1930 at the Grande Prairie Hospital followed by a daughter, Patricia who was born at a neighbor’s residence on November 5, 1933.

On August 30, 1933, Charles became the Postmaster for the Fitzsimmons Post Office and operated it out of their home. As the Milner’s did not have a vehicle, they hauled the mail from Bezanson by horse and caboose. A stove was installed in the caboose which made the trips in the wintertime quite comfortable. Their home was quite a gathering place on Saturday evenings as everyone waited for the mail that only arrived once a week. In 1934, Charles was elected secretary-treasurer of the Fitzsimmons school for which he received $25 per year. Charles received the patent on his homestead in 1945.

Charles enlisted with Army, Regimental # M17436, on July 10, 1940 in Edmonton and was stationed at Calgary. In his absence, Ruth became the Acting Postmaster on August 10, 1940 until September 21, 1940 at which time she decided to join her husband and moved to Calgary. Charles was later transferred to various places in Alberta & BC with his last transfer being to Camrose where he worked in one of the Army offices. In July of 1945, Charles was transferred to the Veterans Guard of Canada where he successfully completed a course for appointment to Commissioned Rank. On May 9, 1946, Charles embarked for England to provide escort service for German POW’s. Lieutenant Charles Milner served in Canada and the High Seas and received the War Medal 1939-45 and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. He was discharged on demobilization on July 30, 1946.

Once discharged, Charles returned to Camrose. The family decided that they liked the area so much that they were going to stay. Charles found employment as an accountant for the Alberta Government at Rosehaven – a position he held for 16 years until he passed away. Charles was also instrumental in the creation of the Credit Union in Camrose. Ruth worked for the Alberta Government at Rosehaven as the head seamstress for 22 years until she retired.

Charles passed away in July 1963 and was buried at the Valley View Cemetery in Camrose. Ruth passed away in 2001 and was also buried at the Valley View Cemetery.

Billy married in 1955 and settled in Ottawa where he was a business analyst for Indian Affairs with the Federal Government. He had three sons and one daughter.

Pat, after being employed as a nurse for 10 years, married in 1963 and settled in Calgary. They had two daughters and one son.

Contributed by Wanda Zenner

South Peace Regional Archives Land Database
Smoky River to Grande Prairie
City of Camrose
Photo courtesy of daughter Pat (Milner) Robinson