Students unravel mystery of unknown Ponoka soldier

Dedicated research by students at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) has helped unravel the history

Students (l-r) Rebecca Wesner

Students (l-r) Rebecca Wesner

Dedicated research by students at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) has helped unravel the history of one Ponoka soldier who died in the First World War.

Working as a team, Delaney Brachmann, Megan Franks and Becca Wesner were researching the life and history of Clement Pike, a soldier who died at the Battle of Ypres in 1916, when they stumbled across a “James Pike” on the family tree website www.ancestry.ca.

Social studies teacher and spearhead of the Broncs World Tour project, Ron Labrie, had given the team one name, J. Pike, and he suggested there may be a connection but no one could find anything else on him.

“We found a passenger list with a ‘James Pike’ on it,” explained Brachmann.

She searched out James’ history and found out he was actually Clement’s brother. Both were from Europe, but Clement immigrated to Canada and set up home in Ponoka in 1903, whereas James moved to Ponoka in 1907.

“It was pretty sweet that we found this,” stated Franks.

While the team was able to garner more information on James, they were pleased that next year another group of students will have the chance to delve more into his life. While James did move to Ponoka, he used to be a member of the British Armed Forces and had spent some time in the field in South Africa.

Because of the need for soldiers in the First World War, James was re-enlisted in the British army, which is why students had trouble making the connection. He died five weeks after he was enlisted.

The team said they now look forward to travelling to Europe in just over 20 days to take part in the Broncs World Tour. For her part, Wesner hopes to get other people involved in what is happening.

“I kind of want a few other people, besides our group, to come and see these memorials,” said Wesner.