Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 17, 1879
Place of BirthWaterdown, Wentworth County, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs. Edith Mary Easterbrook (wife), Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingForeman
ReligionBaptist
Service Details
Regimental Number1038023
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 110 Company, No. 55 District
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Forestry Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentNorman, Ontario
Date of Enlistment15/08/1916
Age at Enlistment37
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death17/04/1970
Age at Death91
Buried AtWetaskiwin Cemetery, Wetaskiwin, Alberta

Easterbrook, Frederick Elmo

Private Frederick Elmo Easterbrook was married and the father of six children when he signed up with a forestry unit in August 1916. He served in England and Scotland for two years and returned to Canada for health reasons in the fall of 1918.

Fred was the son of James and Carrie Easterbrook and he grew up in Flamborough East, Wentworth County, Ontario. He was born on 17 March 1879 in either Burlington or the nearby village of Waterdown. His father was a farmer who had emigrated from Ireland and his mother was born in Ontario.

Fred was married in Bridgeburg, Welland County on 27 April 1900, at age 21. His wife Edith Mary Coxon was born in 1879 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, England and she came to Canada with her family as a child. Shortly after their marriage Fred and his wife moved to the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora) in northwestern Ontario, where his parents were living. Their oldest son William James was born there in March 1901. He was followed by George, Hazel, Fred Jr., Maud, Ruth and Millicent. Two other children died young and they are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Fred worked as a carpenter and millhand and by 1910 he and his family had settled in the neighbouring village of Norman.

Fred enlisted on 15 August 1916, just as the war entered its third year. He was 37 years old by then and working as a foreman and millwright. He said he had served for three years with a militia unit, the 20th Lorne Rifles. Fred joined the 238th Battalion, a forestry unit that was headquartered in Ottawa and recruited in Ontario and western Canada. Just a few weeks after enlisting he was on his way overseas, embarking from Halifax with his battalion on 11 September on the SS Scandinavian and landing at Liverpool eleven days later.

About two months after arriving in the UK Fred was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps. In January 1917 he was assigned to No. 1 District (later renamed No. 51 District), located in the Inverness area in Scotland. In the UK men in the forestry corps cut timber, operated saw mills, laid railway track as needed, hauled logs to the mills and transported lumber to the nearest railway. Company camps had sleeping huts, dining rooms, recreational huts, canteens, officers’ quarters, workshops and garages, bath houses, stables and medical units. Many of them also had farms where the men grew grain and vegetables for their own use. Fred was employed as a saw filer and in November 1917 he was transferred to No. 110 Company in District 55, which was based in Stirling, Scotland.

In January 1918 Fred became ill with rheumatic fever and acute rheumatism. He spent two weeks at the 3rd Scottish General Hospital in Glasgow followed by six weeks at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bromley, Kent. In early March he was moved to the Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital in Buxton, where he was diagnosed with myalgia and bursitis. He recovered there until 23 May. After a few weeks at the Canadian Forestry Corps Depot he was transferred to the Canadian Discharge Depot to await his return to Canada. He embarked from London on the SS City of Poona in late September, arriving in Montreal on 7 October. A medical exam found him unfit for further war service and he was discharged in Winnipeg on 7 November. Four days later the Armistice was signed. Fred’s oldest son William James had enlisted in May 1916, at age 15. He served in the UK and was sent back to Canada in November 1917, due to being a minor.

After his discharge Fred returned to his family in Kenora and his youngest daughter Millicent was born about a year later. Around that time Fred moved to Alberta and took a job in a sawmill in Millet, a village south of Edmonton. His wife and children joined him later and they made their home there for more than thirty years. In the 1920s they spent about four years in Mercoal, further west, before returning to Millet. Edith passed away in 1956, at age 77, and she’s buried in the cemetery in Wetaskiwin. By the early 1960s Fred was retired and living in the nearby town of Calmar. He died at the Veterans’ Home in Edmonton on 17 April 1970, a month after his 91st birthday. He is buried beside his wife in Wetaskiwin Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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Some information is from: Tales and Trails of Millet Volume 1 (Millet and District Historical Society, 1978).


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