John Crispo Inglis Edwards, known to his family as Jack but to almost everyone else as “Dutchy,” was born in Londonderry, Nova Scotia on July 5, 1896. He was the sixth child—and the fourth son—born to Major Joseph Plimsoll Edwards, a noted Canadian historian, and Emily Susan Crispo.
Joseph had been born in Clarence, Ontario a descendant of the first Baptist minister in the town and educated in Montreal. After his family moved there, he went into business. In 1893, he moved to Londonderry, N.S., where he managed an iron foundry. He was appointed the first income tax inspector for Nova Scotia in 1916 and moved to Halifax. He was an authority on military history and was the author of several historical papers and pamphlets, notably “Louisbourg: An Historical Sketch” (1895) and “The Public Records of Nova Scotia” (1920). The sale of his extensive library of Canadiana to Acadia University formed the basis of their Eric R. Dennis Special Collection.
John attended St. Alban’s School in Brockville, Ontario where his cousin’s husband was the headmaster. He left there at the end of 1911 to become a cadet in the second class of the Royal Naval College of Canada. On completion of his training, he was appointed Midshipman. He was very close to his older brother, Joe (Joseph Plimsoll), who was a Royal Military College of Canada graduate. The family was devastated when Joe was killed in France in 1917 and, in the early journals, we read of Dutchy’s reaction to the news and his visit to the gravesite.
Dutchy went on to have a distinguished naval career, serving his country for 38 years, and retiring with the rank of Commodore. His excellent work while in command of HMCS Cornwallis, the largest training base in the British Empire, was recognized when he was made Commander of the British Empire.
JCI was a talented athlete, excelling at many sports and was particularly noted as a rugby and tennis player. He trained as a Physical and Recreational Training Officer in England and used this training throughout his long career.
He died in Central Saanich on December 31, 1978 and is buried in Holy Trinity Church Cemetery.