This blog was produced in collaboration with the students and Christine Ritsma of Stratford Northwestern Secondary School, and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.
By Ashley Gojmerac, Aliya Valdez and Lanna Gowland
Private Henry Hornick was born 16 October 1885 in Tavistock, Ontario. He was born into a Christian family and held that status throughout his adult years. In his adult years, Hornick worked as a labourer in Stratford, Ontario where he also lived. Horinck resided at 614 Albert Street in Stratford, with his wife and their five children. Hornick was enlisted in the war in 1915 at the age of thirty and served as an orderly with the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC).
At the age of thirty and still living in Stratford, Hornick enlisted in July. He had never before served in the military, but like many men before and after him, he did his duty. He was soon after sent to England where he served as an orderly in the CAMC for a very short amount of time. He became unable to perform the tasks required of him after countless fainting spells caused by the onset of malaria. Malaria being particularly acute, Hornick’s service was cut short because of it. After his diagnosis, he was discharged on 17 March 1918 due to illness. He returned to Canada where he began a family with his wife, residing at 507 Brunswick Street in Stratford. But this first wave of illness overseas was only the beginning of his struggles with malaria.
Many soldiers were discharged with injuries which later affected their way of life, particularly their careers. The severity of injury often dictated whether or not they can resume their pre-war career. Unfortunately for Hornick, he could not. Before enlistment, he was a roundhouse labourer, but due to the ongoing repercussions of malarial disease he was unable to continue his work. Malaria is caused by mosquito bites and tiny parasites that get into and multiply in the bloodstream. With reoccurring seizures, a history of epilepsy, an enlarged spleen, and possible poikilocytosis, resuming his original job as a roundhouse labourer was not an option. After discharge from the Canadian Expeditionary Force, with five kids, prospects of employment low, and no disability pension, money became an issue. Many veterans received a disability pension when they have a visible injury from war–losing an arm or leg for example. But because of Hornick’s peculiar injury, he did not receive a pension at first. Henry’s wife had to beg the government to give him a pension and sent many letters in hopes of changing their minds. In June 1919, she wrote to them saying, “Why should other soldiers get pensions and not my husband?.” Thankfully, her efforts paid off when Hornick finally began to receive a pension in 1933.
Hornick’s file is filled with investigative reports questioning his many trips to the hospital after he had suffered from a “spell.” In many instances, he had to have police and hospital staff verify these spells to the investigators. These “spells” would haunt Hornick for the remainder of his life until he died on 13 June 1953 at the age of 67.
To view Henry Hornick’s military service record at Library and Archives Canada, Click Here