Percival Franklin Spencer
Percival Franklin Spencer was a bricklayer. Percival and his father, Henry, built the house at 82 Princess St., which was completed in early 1916. Ownership of the house was in Percy’s name, suggesting it would become his principal residence. Whatever the plan, it was derailed by the clouds of war, and the house became an income property.
On April 4, 1916, Percy enlisted in the Canadian Army and was dispatched to England. His first big engagement was the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The Canadian Corps was assigned to dislodge German forces from the ridge which commanded the Arras Valley. That task had already cost the French army more than 100,000 killed and wounded, and had resulted in failed attempts by other Allies.
The Canadian Corps commander, Julian Byng, who would become Canada’s Governor General (1921-1926), and Sir Arthur Currie planned the Vimy operation down to the platoon level using new techniques of warfare, which proved successful. Some historians argue that Canada was born as a nation on the bloody fields of Vimy. Percy Spencer was in the thick of the battle, in which more than 10,000 of his comrades were killed or wounded. He somehow survived.