|Date of Birth||April 25, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs R S Martin, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Clergyman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||10th Field Ambulance|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Army Medical Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Age at Enlistment||30|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 2, 1916|
|Age at Death||31|
|Buried At||no known grave/Menin Gate Memorial|
The first born child of Richard and Sarah (née Bardosen) Martin, John Bardosen Martin was born on 25 April 1885 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. His father, the son of Cornish immigrants, had been born at sea as they were crossing the Atlantic while his mother was from Norway. Richard had first come to Kenora in 1882 during the construction period of the Canadian Pacific Railway and later had the distinction of being the first policeman in town. Sarah had also arrived in 1882.
The Martin family was listed in the 1891 Algoma Rat Portage West census, with household member including parents Richard and Sarah, and children John B, William, Oscar, and baby Phoebe. As on John’s birth registration, Richard’s occupation was given as carpenter. For the 1901 Canada census there was a new addition to the family, George. By this time Richard was working as a millwright with the Rat Portage Lumber Company. By the 1911 Canada census, household members were parents Richard and Sarah, and Oscar and George. William had married Annie Wolchuk, daughter of Gregorius and Antonia Wolchuk in 1909, and Phoebe had married George Morrison, son of William and Mary (McCoy) Morrison in 1910. Oscar Martin later married Marie Helen Poirier, daughter of Alfred and Marie (Bruley) Poirier.
After graduating from high school, John attended the theological college St John’s in Winnipeg, being ordained as a deacon with the Church of England in Calgary in 1910. From there he served as a missionary in Big Prairie, Alberta for 1910-1911.
John Bard Martin enlisted in Kenora on 3 August 1915, listing prior service as a chaplain with the Militia. With what was called at the time the Royal Army Medical Corps, he trained in Winnipeg for a number of months with the 10th Field Ambulance. In late February of 1916 a train passed through Kenora on its way east on the first leg of the journey to France. On board was John Martin along with a number of other local men. The No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance left Saint John, New Brunswick on 2 March 1916 aboard the Scandinavian, arriving in England on 12 March 1916, strength 9 officers, 180 other ranks. Two days later, John was promoted to Corporal at Bramshott. By 8 April they were in France.
In just under two months later, on 2 June 1916, Corporal John Bard Martin was reported as killed in action. From the CEF Burial Registers: At the third battle of Ypres*, during an intense bombardment of the lines and supports, the dressing station in charge of his unit was partially destroyed by shell fire at at time when the place was filled with wounded men. The dressing station had to be evacuated and all the wounded had to be carried back to a place of safety some two miles distant. Corporal Martin went out in charge of a number of walking cases and proceeded down the trench which had by this time been destroyed in many places, and was under heavy shell fire. From this time on there is no direct evidence obtainable but his body was found with that of a comrade some days later, by a burying party who stated they were found kneeling at the side of a stretcher evidentally (sic) in the act of bandaging a wounded man. With him at the time was Private Charles Henry Brady, a native of Stonehouse Devonshire, England who had immigrated to Winnipeg; he left behind a wife and three small children.
Corporal John Martin was buried ‘in the field, half way between Maple copse and Zillebeke Village’. ‘The Menin Gate Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town of Ypres (now Ieper) in the Province of West Flanders, on the road to Menin and Courtrai. It bears the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the defence of the Ypres Salient in the First World War.’ Panel 32 contains the name of Corporal John Bard Martin.
John’s father Richard had died in 1914. His obituary stated he was well and favourably known as a staunch friend by all the old-timers of Kenora. John’s mother Sarah’s death was reported in a 1936 edition of the Kenora Miner and News. She had been living at the home of her daughter Phoebe Morrison. Phoebe died in 1967. She and George had two sons and four daughters. Oscar also stayed in Kenora and died in 1959. George had married Laura Belle Graham in 1920 and they had two children. George died in 1974. John’s parents and most of his siblings are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. John’s brother William served with the 1st Field Troop, Canadian Engineers during the Great War and returned safely. At the time of his mother’s death he was living in Kapuskasing, Ontario but eventually moved to Vancouver where he died in 1964.
Corporal John Bard Martin is commemorated on page 133 of the First World War book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, on a large stained glass window and on a plaque hanging in St Alban’s Cathedral in Kenora, on the Kenora and Keewatin High Schools plaque, on a IOOF Lodges Memorial in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora as he was a member of Gold Hill Lodge No 262, and on the Masonic online Honour Roll as he was a member of Pequonga Lodge No 414, being initiated in 1906 and having achieved Master Mason in 1909.
by Judy Stockham
*research note: Although the CEF Burial Register states ‘at the third battle of Ypres’, it was at the Battle of Mount Sorrel.
photos of John: courtesy of University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections