The Keys Family

When the war started, Norman A. Keys (1888-1977) was just about to embark on a career as a lawyer, and start a family. But the Great War intervened. Immediately upon graduation from University of Toronto, he enlisted as a private in the 2nd University Company, reinforcing the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and leaving behind his fiancée Lily Denton.

The Keys family was very close, and their correspondence throughout the war is full of regular family gossip and daily news. Norman fought in the trenches in France, writing regularly to Lily, his mother, and his younger sister, Erskine, but he was always careful to spare them any concern. Worried that the letters from home would fall into enemy hands, Norman burned them. Nevertheless, his commentary in the letters he sent home gives a running dialogue on life on the home front.  

Norman maintained a brave front for his family throughout the war. His early letters were full of plans for the future. Toward the end of the war, the letters became somewhat darker, as he worried about what had become of the world as he knew it.