01 February 2020

Recognize the last name? — CWGC Beechwood Cemetery Burials: Richard Alexis Helmer

The name may ring a bell, not because Richard Alexis Helmer died of pneumonia on 1 February 1920 and is interred in Sec. 22. Lot 40. North-West part at Beechwood Cemetery. Why the familiarity?

In summarizing his career the Ottawa Citizen wrote:

The late Brigadier-General Robert Alexis Helmer,, C.M.G., of the Canadian army, was a son of the late Nathaniel Helmer and Melissa Johnson Helmer, and was born in Russell, Ont., on October 12th, 1864. He was educated in the Ottawa public schools and the Ottawa Collegiate Institute. He married Miss Elizabeth J. Hannum, of Hull, P.Q.

The late General Helmer was a graduated chemist of Ontario (1885) and Quebec (1886) and successfully practiced his profession in Hull, P. Q. until 1904, when he retired.

The late General Helmer was a long time in the Militia Service of Canada. He entered the 43rd D. C. O. R. regiment as a private In 1888 and successively progressed, lieutenant, 1891; captain, 1896; major, 1899; lieutenant-colonel, 1910. He was appointed deputy adjutant-general for musketry. Headquarters staff, assistant adjutant-general for musketry, 1910; and since he has been the director of musketry. Somewhat over a year ago, he was created a brigadier-general. Since 1907 he has been commandant of the Canadian school of musketry.

General Helmer held a long service decoration and was an expert rifle shot. He was adjutant of tho Canadian Bisley team in 1899 and also of the Canadian Palma trophy team in 1901, 1902 and 1908.

He was made an alderman of the city of Hull for ten years and was mayor of Hull In 1890, and also in 1900.

In religion, he was a Methodist. He has resided at 122 Gilmour Street, Ottawa, for many years.

If the name is familiar it's because he was the father of Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer, killed in action on 2 May 1915. Alexis' funeral was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Dr. John McCrae who had been one of Alexis' instructors at McGill University in Montreal. It inspired the poem "In Flanders Fields".

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