Robert Durrant was born in England in 1876 and emigrated to Canada as a young man. By 1909 he was operating mines in Lundbreck, Alberta and Perry Creek near Cranbrook, BC. He may also have had a ranch in Alberta.
Like many immigrants from the UK, he was eager to sign up for the First World War. In June 1916, he attempted to join the 225th Overseas Battalion but was declared medically unfit due to his eyesight.
Undaunted, he enlisted with the 230th Battalion Forestry Corps in March 1917. After a little more than a year in France, he transferred to the 47th Canadian Infantry Battalion - his poor eyesight did not, ultimately, keep him from his goal of fighting for king and country.