Ben and Ken Martin
Find War Hero Ancestors

The Cope Brothers


The Regional

optipress An Optipress Publication - Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - ISSUE 46 VOL 2: A supplement to The Kentville Advertiser, The Berwick Register, The Hants Journal, The Mirror Examiner, The Annapolis Spectator, The Bridgetown Monitor and The Digby Courier

Luck, research bring war heroes story to light

By Glen Parker
Hants County

A long search for information on four members of a Hants county Mi’kmaq family, all soldiers who served in the First and Second World Wars, has finally come to a conclusion.

Ken and Ben Martin live on the Millbrook reserve in Truro. Their three uncles were casualties of war. Their grandfather served in World War One but lived to return home and died in Truro in 1934. That much they knew. The rest of this amazing story has been falling into place with some tough researching and a healthy dose of blind luck.

The three brothers - John, Jim and Leo Cope lost their lives. John survived WWI but died from exposure to mustard gas after he came home. Jim Cope was killed in action in France in 1918. Leo cope was killed in France in 1944 during the WWII, Ken Martin explained. All three boys were born in Windsor to Joe Cope and Sara Tracy of Windsor Forks. “We knew they all lived in Hants County. We even knew that our grandfather Joe Cope was the son of the man who accidently discovered Rawdon Gold Mines,” Ken said. Many of the missing pieces of the family puzzle involved Joe cope. Ken and Ben could not find very much information about him.

“Kenny and I started to search around for some records. When the story started to unfold - it was so unbelievable,” Ben said. Their search to them to a war historian in Great Village - Walter Millen. they found photographs of all four war vets from a man named Stephen Horne in cole Harbour. Horne has a hugh collection of military photos and records.

And now for the lucky part.

“Just about the same time my daughter, Catherine, was singing at the Lunenburg Folk Festival. She was introducing a song and happened to mention her great-grandfather Joe Cope. And elderly lady came up to her after the performance and said she knew a Joe Cope!” Ben Martin said.

That lady was Neta Keddy of Falmouth. She was part of the festival audience along with her friend Kaye Dempsey, also of Falmouth, “We Just happened to hear the singer mention the name Cope,” Dempsey recalled. Joe cope used to live up this road and he used to come to my house to buy butter from my mother,” That was about 75 years ago. But Kaye Dempsey and Neta Keddy remember Joe cope very well.

Joe cope had lived in a cabin on the Mines Road in Falmouth. One day he went to Truro and never returned. Years later Keddy’s son found a box in the old abandoned cabin which contained a large, brass war medal with Cope’s name inscribed on it.

“When we heard Catherine speaking about Joe cope, we couldn’t believe it was the same man,” Dempsey said. “It was. We went to visit the family in Truro and took the medal to them. Neta and I have found this whole thing so interesting.”

“You can imagine how we felt when Mrs. Keddy and Mrs. Dempsey came over to see us,” Ken Martin said. “The World War One medal was given by the King of England to mothers who lost loved ones in war.

”We’ve searched all these years,” added Ben. “Our main concern was that these guys be recognized. The whole family was in the service - they all died, only Joe survived. We left all the war records with the Royal Canadian Legion in Windsor and their names will be included on a new cenotaph being planned.”

An extra bonus came from all the research. Very little had been known about Jim Cope. Army records in Ottawa gave proof that he had been at war and died overseas in action. The records gave the vital statistics for Ben and Ken to have his name registered on the Millbrook War Memorial. James Cope was killed in action in France on April 7, 1917. He was 18 years old.

Joe Cope’s great-grand-daughter still lives in Windsor. Her name is Robin Mckay and she is married to Trevor Mckay.