Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – Major Charles Alexander Moss, St James Cathedral, Toronto

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Each soldier tells a story.

Amongst the plaques in St James Cathedral at the corner of King St E and Church St in Toronto:

In loving memory of Charles Alexander Moss, Major, Third Battalion, Toronto Regiment, born at Toronto, June the 19th, 1872, wounded in the advance on Regina Trench, Somme, on the morning of October the 8th, 1916, died at Rouen, October the 24th, 1916.

Charles Moss was educated at Upper Canada College and at the University of Toronto. A top student and athlete, he played lacrosse and rugby. He received his LLB from Osgoode Hall in 1895 and was called to the bar in 1897. He was elected as bencher (governor) of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1911 and again in 1914. He ran for a seat in the legislature in the 1914 provincial election, but did not win. He was held in high esteem in society and in the legal profession, described as “an able counsel, a kindly associate and an honorable man.”

He was the only bencher to die on active service in WW1.

A death that hit harder at the Law Society was Charles Moss’s. In 1914, Charles Moss had been the golden youth of Ontario’s legal profession. His father, Sir Charles Moss, and his uncles Sir Thomas Moss and Sir Glenholme Falconbridge had served in turn as chief justice of Ontario. … Young Charles Moss was their heir apparent. When in 1911 he became at age 38 the youngest bencher in living memory, he was considered an emerging leader of both his firm and the Ontario profession. On the outbreak of war, he dropped his practice to go on active service, and in England he sought a reduction in military rank in order to go to the front more swiftly. After he died of wounds in October 1916, he became the Ontario bar’s great symbol of bright promise cut off in its prime by the Great War.
Christopher Moore, The Law Society of Upper Canada and Ontario’s Lawyers, 1797-1997 (U of T Press)

The following words of one who knew him seem to describe Major Moss’s character well. “Glory had no charms for him nor had he any love of war for its own sake. Enlistment was a duty which he took as quietly and naturally as if his country had been his client.”
Upper Canada College Times (Summer 1916) p 24-25

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial documents several other tributes to Charles Moss.


Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

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