Ralph Featherstone Lake Osler was part of arguably Canada’s most famous family. Rafe was born on October 11 1891 in WinnipegManitoba. He was the son of Frank Osler and Isobel Fowler. One uncle was Sir William Osler, Canada’s and perhaps the world’s most famous medical doctor. One uncle was Sir Edmund Osler one of Canada’s most prominent financial experts and the national president of the Dominion Bank (now called the TD-Canada Trust Bank). Another uncle was Britton Osler, in the 1880’s, Canada’s most famous lawyer. Britton Osler was the prosecuting lawyer for Canada’s most famous trial, the Trial of Louis Riel. Another brother was Featherstone Osler a Supreme Court Judge in Ontario. The Frank Osler home and orchard was located on present day Morrow Avenue, across from his famous brother Sir Edmund’s orchard. Rafe’s father was a ‘fruit rancher”, an award winning fruit rancher in Summerland. Among other things, his father Frank was a co-founder of the Summerland curling club. The curling club used the Trout Creek Water Reservoir as their rink.
Rafe Osler was the personal secretary for J.J. Warren of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. His uncle, Sir Edmund financed his education and Rafe moved to Montreal and studied at McGillUniversity (Applied Science 1910-1911). While in Montreal he became the personal secretary for Sir Thomas Shaughnessy the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. (Sir Edmund was a business partner with Shaughnessy and one of Summerland’s first land purchasers).
Rafe was popular in Summerland and clearly was positioned to follow the footsteps of his famous uncles. Rafe was one of the first to enlist in this area. In November 9th 1914 Osler and 24 others joined the Rocky Mountain Rangers (H Company).
Rafe had his letter to home published in the Penticton Herald. Dated May 8th 1916 he wrote:
Many thanks for the parcel. The Penticton paper arrives regularly and is much appreciated. Jack North , one of the Penticton boys was hit a week ago by a shell splinter and is now in hospital, but is in no danger as far as we know. Shelling is most erratic, or at least the results of it are.I have seen over 200 shells fall in around a trench and we have no casualties, although the place was more or less ruined, but one shell last week came into our billet two miles behind the line and got eight men. Its a funny world and you never know where you get off. Saw Barney McCoy when I was on leave last month. He is in Shorncliffe waiting to come back again. Please remember me to the family. Yours sincerely Ralph Osler.
Rafe’s parents moved to England to be closer to their son. Frank Osler had a stricking resemblance to his world famous brother Sir William Osler and often was mistaken for him in England. Lieutenant Ralph Osler fought under the 16th Battalion. Ralph was wounded on the battlefield at Ypres. He was rushed to hospital for an operation on his abdominal wounds but died two days later of peritonitis. The Olser family dominated Canadian Society one hundred years ago. A total of 18 Osler men served their country and The Great War claimed many of them. Rafe was killed on June 16 1916 while serving with the Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) of the 16th Battalion.(R# 17544)