James Cockburn Society

  • James Cockburn Day
    The August Civic Holiday is James Cockburn Day in Cobourg, a time when citizens celebrate local history and this Father of Confederation, as well as the First Speaker of the House of Commons.
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Ypres Vigil


In 1928...

Sir Arthur Currie charged a suit of libel against the Port Hope Evening Guide in response to slanderous statements made in the paper regarding Currie's final victory in Mons during WWI.

"The peace, when it comes, must last for many many years. We do not want to have to do this thing all over again in another 15 or 20 years. If that is to be the case, German military power must be irretrievably crushed. This is the end we must attain if we have the will and guts to see it through."

- General Arthur Currie, Commander of the Canadian Corps

Meet the people involved in the Currie libel trial

The People: Frank Regan (right) and W.T.R. Preston outside the courthourse in Cobourg, April 1928.The People: Frank Regan (right) and W.T.R. Preston outside the courthourse in Cobourg, April 1928.The People involved in the Currie libel trial. For more information please click a button to begin.

General Sir Arthur William Currie: First Canadian commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the Western Front during World War I. Plaintiff in the libel case against Frederick W. Wilson and the Port Hope Evening Guide.

Sir Sam Hughes: the Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence during World War I. Hughes told the House of Commons that Currie had thoughtlessly wasted the lives of Canadian soldiers when he ordered the attack on Mons on November 10 and 11, 1918. He stated that Curring knew the armistice would take effect within hours.

Frederick W. Wilson: proprietor and publisher of the Port Hope Evening Guide. Defendant in the libel case.

W.T.R. Preston: politician, journalist, and author. Wrote the article in the Port Hope Evening Guide that resulted in the Currie libel trial.

W.N. Tilley: the lawyer hired by Sir Arthur Currie in the libel trial.

Frank Regan: lawyer for the defendants, Frederick W. Wilson, and the Port Hope Evening Guide

Places related to the Currie libel trial

Mons, BelgiumMons, BelgiumVictoria Hall, CobourgVictoria Hall, CobourgLocated near Brussels and approximately 20 minutes from the French border, Mons has been the site of many wars and battles.

Victoria Hall, located in Cobourg Ontario, was the site of the Currie libel trial, and was bustling with activity during the weeks of the trial.

Places related to the Currie libel trial. For more information click a button to begin.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

News ThumbnailNews ThumbnailClick on the article date and title to view actual newspaper articles from the time of the Arthur Currie Trial.

Articles include:

November 12, 1918 - "Canada's admiration of Sir Arthur Currie"

April 3, 1928 - "Order is obtained to examine Preston"

April 28, 1928 - "War's last days retold in calm Ontario town by veterans of Mons"

May 2, 1928 - "Currie wins his libel action; defendants are adjudged guilty and damages assessed at $500"

Currie wins libel action

Cobourg, May 1 – The defendants, F.W. Wilson, publisher of The Port Hope Guide, and W. T. R. Preston, were found guilty of libel in the case brought against them by Sir Arthur Currie who was awarded $500 in damages by the jury.

The suit was the result of an article published in The Port Hope Guide last June. In the article, it alleged that General Currie’s actions at Mons during the last days of the Great War resulted in the needless loss of life.

The final day of the libel case opened at 9:30 o’clock this morning with Justice Rose delivering a two-hour address to the jury. In his address he stressed that it was incumbent upon the defence to prove, and not the plaintiff to disprove, the statements made in The Port Hope Guide’s article.

Trial coming to an end in Cobourg

Cobourg, April 30 – It seemed like everyone in Cobourg was at Victoria Hall today, as the Currie libel trial saw its largest crowd yet. An argument that lasted five hours broke out between Frank Regan, W. T. R. Preston, and W. Norman Tilley.

“I therefore impeach Arthur Currie,” said Mr. Preston, “before the bar, on behalf of the widows who lost their husbands, the mothers who lost their sons, the sons who lost their fathers, and the fathers who lost their support, with heedless, reckless, needless war waste of life in this attack on Mons.”

Mr. Regan continued by charging that the only result of the action had been, “battle honors for the officers and graves for the privates.”

Sir Arthur takes the stand and tells of Mons battle

Cobourg, April 27 - Many have awaited the examination of Sir Arthur Currie, who took the stand this morning in the libel trial he brought against W.T.R. Preston and F.W. Wilson. Sir Arthur was put under a grueling six-and-a-half-hour cross examination by Frank Regan, counsel for the defense.

Heels thumped on the hard wood floor, and a wave of approval seemed to fill the air of Victoria Hall when Sir Arthur told Mr. Regan that Canadians, “were not the kind of men to lie down and quit” in the face of the enemy.

Officer rejects any possibility of individual action by commanders during time of war

Cobourg, April 26 – The Currie libel trial had a dramatic turn of events when Brig. Gen. John A. Clark took the stand today. “Orders are orders,” he said during defense cousel, Frank Regan’s cross-examination.

“Would you not have been justified in disobeying an order at that late hour, especially when you knew that hostilities would cease at 11 o’clock?” asked Mr. Regan.

Trial is Nearly Over

(Staff Correspondence of The Globe)

COBOURG, April 26 – "Possibility of the Currie libel suit reaching its climax with General Sir Arthur Currie on the stand on Friday, and coming to its end on Saturday, was intimated just before tonight’s adjournment by W. Norman Tilley, K.C., counsel for the plaintiff.

Veterans of Mons tell of battle

Cobourg, April 24 – A sunny day greeted the citizens of Cobourg today, while inside Victoria Hall the crowds were shocked to hear the stunning tale of a war story that will not soon be forgotten.

The officers and men of the Forty-second Canadian Battalion and the Princess Pats told their story of Mons on behalf of their former Corps Commander, Sir Arthur Currie.

They told of the nights leading up to November 11, and, as they claimed, no one knew of an approaching Armistice.

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