We know little about Nicholas. Ivan was born on July 5th, 1889 in or around Toronto. In 1891 the baby Ivan and his parents, Nicholas and Jane show up a ways from Toronto, in Grey County. In 1893 another baby, Norman, is born.
We don't know what happened to Jane but in 1901 Nicholas is in Goulais with this oldest son. In 1911 Norman is also in Goulais, living with his father. Ivan, now in his early twenties, is on his own but still in Goulais.
One McLean who did go to France was Ivan. His service record tells us a lot about him, although his last name is spelled MacLean. Its the same Ivan McLean though, he has the same birthday and his father is Nicholas.
Ivan was a lumberman by trade and when war broke out he was working in the west apparently. He immediately enlisted in the 31st Battalion and would have shipped out to France very early.
For a record of the exploits of the 31st battalion I would recommend The Journal of Private Fraser, a book I actually owned before discovering Ivan's service record earlier this year. Donald Fraser describes in great detail what the regular infantryman had to endure. Its a terrible tale.
In September of 1916 its the Canadian divisons' turn at the Battle of The Somme. This is before Vimy Ridge and before Arthur Currie turns the Canadian Army into the elite force it would be in the last two years of the war but even in 1916 the Canadians are recognized for their ability in battle.
On September 15th they go over the top and begin the last part of the battle, a battle which they would successfully conclude a month or so later, a battle that cost the British the flower of an entire generation.
On September 15th the artillery does little to dent the German trenches and German rifles and machine guns take a terrible toll, a toll that Fraser describes in detail as he watches his comrades killed around him.
By the end of the first day of the battle the 31st has lost over a quarter of its strength, over two hundred and seventy men. Whereas usually there are a fraction of casualties who are killed, in this battle over half of those casualties are fatal.
One of them is Ivan McLean. His body was never recovered. His name is found on the Canadian monument at Vimy Ridge.