|Date of Birth||March 9, 1886|
|Place of Birth||Chichester, Quebec|
|Next of Kin||Michael LaBelle, father, Beausejour, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Regimental Number||859176, 1072034|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||District 52, Company 133|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Forestry Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Age at Enlistment||29|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 1, 1961|
|Age at Death||75|
|Buried At||Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
Joseph Ernest (Ernie) LaBelle was born on 9 March 1886 in the township of Chichester, Pontiac, Quebec. For reasons unknown he was baptized in the nearby township of Sheenboro with the surname of Micheau, parents given as Michael Micheau, farmer, and Mary Brennan. His father usually went by the name of Michael LaBelle, the name given on their marriage record of 4 September 1877 in St Paul the Hermit church in Sheenboro. However in earlier censuses his surname was given as Isobell/Isabell as well as in the 1881 census after their marriage. The Chichester/Sheenboro area had been settled by Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine, with Mary’s parents among the immigrants as was Michael’s mother. The Brennan and Isobell/Isabell families both farmed in the area. Children born in Chichester, also baptized in Sheenboro with the surname of Micheau, were Ambrose (1878-1912), Daniel (1880-1939), Mary Ellen (1882-1936), Michael James (1884), and twins Ernie and Catherine Ada (Kate) (1886). The 1881 census found Michael, Mary, and children Ambrose and Daniel, surname given as Isobell, living with Mary’s parents in Chichester where they were farming.
By the time of the 1891 census the family had moved to Rat Portage, later renamed Kenora, in northwestern Ontario where Michael found work as a lumberman. From this time on the family went by the surname of Labelle/LaBelle/La Belle. Children born in Rat Portage were Bridget Ethel (1889-1984), John Guy (1891-1924), Annie Laurene (Rene) (1893-1970), George Leo (1894-1895), and Joseph Parnell (1897-1980). By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to Beausejour in Manitoba to farm. Norah Louise, daughter of Kate, joined the family in 1903 to be raised by her grandparents.
Ernie signed his first set of attestation papers on 28 October 1915, service number 859176.
His place of birth was given as Chichester, occupation as labourer and his father Michael in Beausejour as next of kin. With a fair complexion and green eyes, Ernie had red hair. While training with the 179th Battalion at Camp Hughes, was hospitalized twice, 7-24 July 1916 (vdg) and 24 July-22 September 1916 (vds). He was discharged from service at Camp Hughes as medically unfit on 7 October 1916.
Nine days later Ernie signed his second set of attestation papers in Winnipeg with the 250th Battalion. His place of birth was given as Lachine, Quebec, residence as the Corona Apartments in Winnipeg, occupation as labourer, and his father Michael in Beausejour as next of kin. In February 1917 Ernie was hospitalized for 12 days (vds). Transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps, Ernie embarked for England with the No 10 Winnipeg Forestry Draft to Base Depot aboard the Megantic on 5 September 1917. He was to spend the month of November in the Canadian Hospital in Etchinghill (vdg). In January of 1918 Ernie was posted to District 52, Company 133 at Carlisle and appointed Acting Corporal on 1 April. In late July he was admitted to the Canadian Hospital in Etchinghill (vds and prostatitis). That August he reverted to the rank of Private, discharged from the hospital on November 17th. With the end of the war Ernie embarked for Canada aboard the Olympic on 11 January 1919, discharged from service on 19 February in Winnipeg.
Most of Ernie’s brothers were to enlist/serve during the war, Daniel in France with the 3rd Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps, Parnell with the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment in Canada, and Michael James signed his U.S., World War I Draft Registration Card in Floodwood, Minnesota on 11 September 1918, service unknown.
Not a lot is known about Ernie after the war. Upon discharge his proposed residence was given as Beausejour but by 1921 he was living in Teulon, Manitoba. At the time of his mother’s death in Toronto in 1948 Ernie was living in Ear Falls in northwestern Ontario. Ernie died on 1 October 1961 in the Winnipeg General Hospital. At the time of his death he was survived by his brother Parnell of Winnipeg and sisters Ethel Parker of Toronto and Rene (John) McCormick of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Ernest is interred in a military plot in Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg.
by Judy Stockham
gravemarker photo: courtesy of Bocephus on findagrave.com