Lt. Col. John MacGregor (1889-1952)
V.C. M.C. and Bar, D.C.M. E.D.
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles (WWI)
2nd Canadian Scottish Mounted Rifles (WWII)
John MacGregor, a long-time resident of Powell River, won more prestigious awards for valour than any other Canadian soldier.
Born in Scotland in 1889, John ‘Jock’ MacGregor came to Canada in 1908. Sailing from Liverpool, he arrived in Montreal and worked his way West along the railroads as a carpenter, labourer and even as a rancher. Spending time in the United States, Vancouver, and in Prince Rupert, he eventually settled in Powell River in 1925.
While working as a trapper in the Naas Valley, MacGregor learned of the Great War in February of 1915. He trekked 70 miles to Terrace, over mountains and rivers to catch the train back to Prince Rupert to fight for King and Country. Ironically he failed his physical examination as he was exhausted from his trek. Undaunted, he travelled by steamship to Vancouver and applied again. He enlisted in Vancouver on March 26, 1915 joining the 16th Battalion Canadian Scottish, 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles and was soon sent to France.
His feats while in France were truly amazing. MacGregor was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal in WWI for his single-handed capture of an enemy machine gun at the battle of Vimy Ridge. In 1918, he captured several enemy soldiers on Hill 70 and was awarded the Military Cross and Bar. His highest award, the Victoria Cross, was won for extreme bravery at Cambrai, France, where he captured a machine gun nest, again single-handedly. MacGregor served his country again in WWII in several command posts in Vancouver.
Following WWI, MacGregor returned to Canada eventually settling in Powell River in 1925 to work at the Powell River Company as a carpenter and later in his own concrete plant until his death in 1952.
A very humble man, MacGregor never talked of his wartime achievements and he was most proud not of medals, but of his efficiency decoration (for serving in both wars and twenty years of dedication to the military), and his Canadian Citizenship papers. His son, Don MacGregor, recalls how his father was so excited about receiving his Citizenship papers, that he claimed, “These are the greatest awards Canada has ever given me.”