Henry Norwest

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Henry Norwest (Northwest)
Nickname(s) Ducky
Born (1884-05-01)1 May 1884
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
Died 18 August 1918(1918-08-18) (aged 34)
Fouquescourt, Somme, France
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Years of service 1915-1918
Rank Lance Corporal
Unit 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Military Medal & Bar

Henry Norwest (Northwest) MM & Bar (1 May 1884 – 18 August 1918) was a distinguished Canadian sniper in World War I.[1]

Early life

Norwest was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta on 1 May 1884, the Metis son of Louis Northwest or Watson and Geneviève Boucher both Metis. His father lived for a time with the Cree band led by Kiskaquin (Bobtail). Henry accepted Metis scrip in 1885.[2] [3]A former ranch hand and rodeo performer, he served for a short time with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police until January 1915 when he joined the Canadian army. He initially enlisted as Henry Louie but was discharged just three months later for misbehaviour. Norwest then re-enlisted under a new name of Henry Norwest.

Military career

In his nearly three years of service with the 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion, the lance corporal achieved a documented sniping record of 115 fatal shots. While Norwest was an outstanding marksman, the thing that set him apart from others was his superb stealth tactics and his expertise in the use of camouflage. As a result of his exceptional abilities his superiors frequently sent him on reconnaissance missions into "No Man's Land" or behind enemy lines.

In 1917, Norwest earned the Military Medal during the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the following year he was awarded the bar to his Military Medal. He was one of only 90 men in the Canadian Expeditionary force/Canadian Corps to earn the Military Medal with Bar.[4] Only three months before the war ended, Norwest was on a mission to find a German sniper's lair when he was killed by the enemy sniper.

His Ross Rifle is currently on display at The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) Museum, part of The Military Museums in Calgary. It is the second of three rifles that he used and was brought back to Canada by his spotter. The last rifle that Norwest carried was rumoured to have been taken by the German sniper who killed him on 18 August 1918 near Fouquescourt, Somme, France.

Henry Norwest's rifle on display at The Military Museums in Calgary.

Personal life

Nicknamed Ducky, Henry Norwest was Métis of Cree/French origins from the Hobbema reserve in Alberta. Married and the father of three children, he is buried in the Warvillers Churchyard Extension Cemetery, Warvillers, Somme, France.


  1. ^ "Sharpshooter: Henry Louis Norwest". Government of Canada. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  2. ^ http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/norwest_henry_14E.html
  3. ^ https://www.scribd.com/document/32383621/Norwest-Northwest-Henry-World-War-I-Sniper
  4. ^ https://www.scribd.com/document/32383621/Norwest-Northwest-Henry-World-War-I-Sniper

External links

  • Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
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