Heart of the Hat

A Love Story, A Pandemic



One hundred years ago there was another virus raging out of control. We can now appreciate how a pandemic can change lives – and loves – forever.

William Henry White worked on a ranch near Medicine Hat before the First World War. It is uncertain how or when he met Grace Cousins.

He enlisted for war service in 1918 and was sent overseas late in the conflict. Within a couple of months he caught the Spanish Flu and was still in the hospital when the war ended on November 11, 1918. He recovered enough to be released.

But before he could return home, he was again admitted for the Flu in February 1919 and died six days later. Approximately 46,000 Canadian soldiers caught the Spanish Flu, and William was one of 776 who died.

Grace Cousins never married and it is believed that William Henry was the love of her life.

This poem was found in Grace’s belongings with William’s photograph:


Boy of mine Boy of mine

I’ll be here waiting dear

When at the dawn’s glad waking

I hear you say I’m here to stay

Dear Boy of Mine




0017.0030 – Grace Cousins

1091.0009 – William Henry White in his First World War uniform

1091.0009 verso – the poem discovered on the back of Grace’s portrait of her love, William Henry White