I come from a long line of soldiers
Back to the French Wars at least
Some of my forebears were generals
One of them served in the East

His son, born at Toungoo, Burmah
Came with him to Canada soon after
His name was Charles Haultain
And he was my great grandfather

He studied medicine in Toronto
Was called up as a student to go
West to the M├ętis Rebellion to fight
At Batoche, he began to grow

He finished his studies, became a Doctor
He joined the service again
This time in the Northwest Mounted Police
Farther West than he’d ever been

He was based in Regina at first
He cured one of Sitting Bull’s wives
She had tuberculosis, in the Cypress Hills
But with his help she thrived

Sitting Bull wanted to give him a wife
Something he already had
He respectfully declined the offer
And moved on to Fort McLeod

He had three bonny sons and a daughter
He raised them at the fort
I have pictures from there on Treaty Day
Miles of tipis and Mounties holding court

He died of flu out there
Leaving a widow and four kids
She took them back east to Ontario
It was the bravest thing she did

My grandfather, his third son
Was left behind to ride
And rope cattle on the Cochrane Ranche
A job that toughened his hide

When war broke out in Europe
All three sons joined in one breath
Two in the army as officers
My grandfather in the RAF

He flew as an observer
In De Havilland D5-As
Saw the trenches crossing the landscape
Through the artillery haze

When war broke out again in the forties
Grandfather joined up again
This time as a Captain
In the Lincoln and Wellingtons

This time his daughter, my mum, served too
In the RCAF along the East coast
She even served in Newfoundland
Which counts as an overseas post

Five generations later
None of us have served
The family habit of officering men
Is not something we’ve preserved

I come from a long line of soldiers
Back to the French Wars at least
But the old tradition has been stood down
And the soldiering has ceased