July 9, 2020
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General Alexander Ross
Biography - Part 2

General Alexander Ross: from law to the military life

At the end of his three years as an articling student he passed his examinations and was ready for the call to the bar before his 21st birthday. As he could not practice law until he was 21, he was appointed as a Notary Public under which he conveyed debt collections and opened an office in Weyburn in 1901, sending any legal work to Regina.

While in Weyburn he was offered a partnership in the Regina law firm of T.C. Johnstone.

In his new position he was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the office and the bulk of the chamber work so he had to learn practices and procedures. The slightest legal defect in procedure was likely to result in a motion to strike out or down, which if successful would mean payment of costs. It behooved him to see that there were no errors.

Mr. Johnstone was also Crown Prosecutor for the District of Western Assiniboia and Alexander acquired knowledge of criminal law and procedure.

At this time, Saskatchewan was granted provincial status and he became heavily involved in the Liberal party and did a great deal of work at the provincial headquarters and in election campaigns. On the appointment of Mr. Johnstone to the Queen's Bench Court, Alexander was appointed as Crown Prosecutor in the judicial district of Regina and he started up his own law firm with a partner.

After the death of his young wife in 1907 he became more involved in the business and professional life of Regina. Besides his legal practice he was agent of the Attorney General and counsel and solicitor for the Liberal party.

In the course of his political life he met and married Beatrice Scott, private secretary to the Attorney General and close friend of the wife of Premier Walter Scott. This marriage lasted well over 50 years until her death. Again he was at a career crossroad. He gave up his position as agent for the Attorney General and he dissolved his legal partnership and went it alone.

By this time he became more deeply involved in the military--first as adjutant of the regiment then captain.

There was a reorganization and Saskatchewan was to have four infantry regiments with the Regina Rifles becoming a full regiment. In the shuffle he became a major and second-in-command. In his memoirs General Ross said at that time the courses of instruction left much to be desired and his standard of military training was much lower than that of a corporal in today's regular army.

Until the outbreak of World War One, the general public regarded the military effort as a joke. Now with the declaration of war they expected the military to pack kits and move into action without delay.

Col. Embury, the commander, determined the Rifles would go as a unit. The department of National Defense asked each militia to supply a fixed number of officers and men. The Regina unit was asked for three officers and 100 men, which was secured without difficulty.

Alexander Ross became the recruiting officer and was responsible for the initial training of the recruits.

By the time the call came for the Second Division, there were 1,200 registered volunteers. His Colonel became commander of the 28th Infantry Battalion, with the regiment supplying one double company and most of the headquarters staff. Other companies were from the Lakehead, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

Alexander became major in command of B company and by October the company was ready to move as best they could because they had no facilities for training and except for a group of former British Army members, most were without any military training. However the company was composed of young, lively and keen men who were experts in nearly every trade.

This period was very trying as Alexander had to dissolve his partnership, put his affairs in order, and make provisions for his wife, along with his duties as recruiting officer. The interval between the call and final departure was taken up with giving such basic training as was necessary to move his men into an organized unit.


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