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Veteran Profile: Franklin Philip (Phil) Tompkins

PhilipTompkins-FSJ
Philip Tompkins

Franklin Philip (Phil) Tompkins

Regiment: 9th Battalion,1st Battalion, Reserve Battalion
Service: France
Rank: Private

Philip was born November 23, 1891, in Brockville, Ontario, the youngest of a United Empire Loyalist family of five. Phil moved west to Calgary in 1912. In 1915, he married Emily Budd of Bristol, England, where their two oldest sons were born, Eric and Brian. 

Before enlistment for the First World War, Philip had served the military in the 101st and the 41st Military Force. He was listed as an electrician on September 23, 1914, when he enlisted in Edmonton. He sailed overseas on the SS Zealand on October 4, 1914, and was sent to France on February 22, 1915. He was wounded on December 20, 1915, and sent to Shorncliffe Hospital where his thumb and two fingers were amputated. His face was also burned and his eyes closed for several days. He spent 12 weeks in various hospitals before being sent home to Canada on the SS Garnet Castle on November 15, 1917, to the Canadian Military Hospital in Kirkdale.

In 1917, on his return to Canada with his family, he worked at Jasper with the Federal Parks Department. In 1919 they moved to the Peace and settled on their farm at the mouth of the Halfway River. Between the wars, Phil opened a store and freighted by sleigh and boat on the Peace, farmed, and operated the Halfway Ferry and a sawmill.  More children were born to them, Alice, James, Arthur, an adopted son, Donald, Bill, and Margaret.

During the Second World War, he expanded the sawmill and the freighting business with the help of his family to serve the burgeoning demands of the construction of the Alaska Highway. He organized the Hudson’s Hope Coal Sales, was active in the Board of Trade, and always took a keen interest in politics. When there was an urgent need for another “voice” in Fort St. John he started a second newspaper. He was strong willed and sometimes a controversial man but his judgment and advice was respected. 

Phil was a Legion #102 member and was in a picture taken in 1965 of Veterans celebrating Vimy Ridge. Phil passed away in 1986 and is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery.


The following was compiled by North Peace historian Lana-Gay Elliott, who has been working over the last 30 years to preserve the history of World War veterans from the Peace, as well as soldiers who later came to pioneer this country. She has compiled hundreds of stories with the help of families, obituaries, the Fort St. John North Peace Museum, and pioneer history books. We republish this story with great honour and respect so that We Always Remember and so that We Never Forget. Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca