Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 12, 1899
CountryIceland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohanna Wolfe (mother), Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingMiller
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number1250346
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionReserve Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery
ForceArmy
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMay 8, 1917
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 30, 1943
Age at Death44
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
PlotMlty-1796

Wolfe, Esfeld

Driver Esfeld Wolfe enlisted at age 17 and served with the Canadian Field Artillery for almost two years. He enlisted again in the Second World War and served for three years before becoming ill. He passed away in November 1943.

Esfeld was born on 12 October 1899 in Iceland, the youngest son of Ulfar Gunnlaugsson and Johanna Johannesdottir. Esfeld had an older sister Olive and an older brother Leo, both born in Iceland. The family immigrated to Canada in August 1900, arriving in Montreal on the SS Montfort with their destination listed as Winnipeg. When the 1901 census was taken they were living in Gimli, Manitoba and Ulfar was working as a fisherman. Esfeld and his brother Leo were both listed with the surname Ulfarsson. Sadly, Leo died the following year, on 1 January 1902, at age 4. Another daughter, Annie Morea, was born in October 1902 in Winnipeg.

At the time of the 1906 census Ulfar and his family were living in the town of Selkirk. All three children were listed with the surname Gunnlaugsson. Ulfar passed away in Selkirk later that year, on 15 December 1906, at age 53. Johanna and the children stayed in Selkirk and when the next census was taken in 1911 they were using the surname Wolfe. Johanna was working as a laundress and Olive, age 14, was a waitress in a hotel. By the spring of 1917 when Esfeld enlisted they were living in the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario and he was working at the Lake of the Woods flour mill.

Esfeld went to Winnipeg to enlist, signing up on 8 May 1917 with the 76th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. About two weeks later his unit was sent to Petawawa Camp in Ontario to continue their training. During the stopover at the Kenora train station on 26 May a large crowd turned out to see the troops off and wish them well. Esfeld was assigned to the No. 7 Draft of the 76th Battery and he embarked from Halifax on 10 February 1918 on the SS Lapland, landing at Glasgow two weeks later. On 26 February he was transferred to the Reserve Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, and he served with them for the next eleven months in England. At the end of January 1919 he was posted to No. 10 Wing pending his return to Canada. He arrived back in Halifax on 25 February on the SS Empress of Britain and he was discharged on demobilization on 25 March in Winnipeg.

After the war Esfeld returned to Keewatin and to his job at the flour mill. He was honoured at a ceremony in Keewatin on 4 August 1919, when medals were awarded to local returned veterans and the families of fallen soldiers. At the time of the 1921 census he was living with his mother and his sister Morea on Government Road. He was married in St. James, Winnipeg on 10 February 1923 to Lora Victoria Olga Aisman. He and his wife lived in Keewatin until the summer of 1940, when he enlisted again. They moved to St. James and he signed up in Winnipeg on 25 July, joining the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. In December 1940 he went to Camp Borden in Ontario for training and in November 1941 he was sent to the UK. He served with the 4th Division Supply Column as a Driver, the 5th Canadian Armoured Division Troop Company and the Royal Canadian Artillery as a Gunner.

Esfeld became ill in late May 1943, while he was in England. He was admitted to No. 14 Canadian General Hospital in Horley, Surrey on 1 June. In October he was invalided to Canada and admitted to Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. He passed away there on 30 November 1943, suffering from cancer and pneumonia. He was 44 years old. He was survived by his mother Johanna, who was living in Winnipeg, his wife Lora Olga in St. James and his sister Morea (Mrs. William Corbett). Esfeld’s funeral with full military honours was held on 2 December. He is buried in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery.

Esfeld was a member of the Army and Navy Veterans’ Association. He is commemorated on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour and the Municipality of Keewatin ‘For King and Country’ 1914-18 memorial plaque. He is also honoured on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and on page 228 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance, on display in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

By Becky Johnson

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