Alfred Lake The World War I Bicycle Messenger
By Wendy Elliott
At the Wolfville post office in front of our Mona Parsons sculpture, The Joy is Almost Too Much to Bear, stands an oak tree with a fascinating history.
In a sense it goes back to the time of King Charles II of England, when an oak was planted at Windsor Castle. It was meant to commemorate the king’s escape from Cromwell’s army and the oak tree he hid in.
During World War I, Wolfville resident Alfred Lake heard the story on the grounds of the castle and happened to pick up an acorn. He served with the 85th Infantry Battalion in the dangerous role of bicycle messenger. We know he was hit by two bullets during the Hundred Days Offensive just as the Great War ended. Researcher Sarah Atkinson believes he was wounded at Valciennes on November 5 or November 6 of 1918. He was in hospital for 69 days due to wounds in his abdomen and leg.
Wolfville native Gordon Hansford tells the tale that Mr. Lake found the acorn in his pack on his return to Nova Scotia. As the gardener and caretaker at the old post office for many years, he planted it on the grounds. The oak must be nearly one hundred years old now.
The Wolfville Historical Society hopes to tell Mr. Lake’s story and that of the town’s war memorial in an information panel on the site.
Photo courtesy of David Lake, Bridgewater