Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 14, 1886
Place of BirthMaybole, Ayrshire
CountryScotland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Martha Meek (mother), Glasgow, Scotland
Trade / CallingSlater
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number820874
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 55 District
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Forestry Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJuly 5, 1916
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 26, 1946
Age at Death59
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotRoman Catholic Block, Row 6, Grave 27

McDougall, George

Private George McDougall enlisted in July 1916 and served with the Canadian Forestry Corps in England and Scotland. He returned to Canada in September 1919 with a war bride.

George was born on 14 March 1886 in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland, a small village in the southwest part of the country. His mother Martha McDougall was 18 and working as a domestic servant when he was born. At the time of the 1891 census George was living with his grandmother, Margaret McDougall, who ran at lodging house at 7 Kirkwynd in Maybole. His mother had married in 1890 and she was living with her husband, Thomas Meek, a shoemaker. When the 1901 census was taken George was 15 years old and employed as a boot finisher. He was still living at 7 Kirkwynd but the lodging house was now run by his aunt, Mary McDougall. His mother and stepfather had moved to Glasgow and by 1901 they had five sons: John, Matthew, Thomas, William and Samuel.

Around 1906 George immigrated to Canada and by 1916 he had settled in the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. In the summer of 1916 the war was about to enter its third year and new battalions were being raised in an effort to recruit more volunteers for overseas service. George enlisted in Kenora on 5 July 1916, joining the 141st (Bull Moose) Battalion. The 141st had been mobilized a few months earlier and it was being raised in northwestern Ontario. The unit was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora lads were sent there in August to join the rest of the volunteers. They trained in Port Arthur over the fall and winter. In April 1917 George’s medical exam found he had defective eyesight and it was recommended that he transfer to a forestry battalion. No. 1 Independent Forestry Company in Winnipeg was looking for more recruits and George was attached to the company on 23 April. They left Winnipeg on 24 April, heading to the east coast, and embarked from Halifax on 3 May on the SS Metagama.

George arrived in England with his unit on 14 May and that same day he was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps Base Depot at Sunningdale. Two months later he became part of a newly-organized forestry company, No. 121. The company was in CFC District No. 51, which was located in the Inverness area in Scotland. George’s unit was employed at Loch Morlich near the town of Aviemore, southeast of Inverness. The men in forestry companies 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.

On 16 August George was trimming branches from a tree when he was accidentally struck in the right eye. Five days later he was admitted to the 3rd Scottish General Hospital in Glasgow where he was a patient until 2 October. From there he was transferred to West Cliff Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital in Folkstone, England where he was diagnosed with a prolapsed iris and treated for three weeks. Following his discharge he was posted to No. 125 Company in CFC District 53, which was headquartered southwest of the city of London. He served there for eight months, until June 1918, when he was transferred back to the base depot. In October 1918 he was attached to No. 128 Company in District 55, based in Stirling, Scotland. George’s company was employed at Kincardine, about 50 km northeast of Glasgow, and he served there until August 1919.

During his time in the UK George would have visited his family in Glasgow and Ayrshire. In the summer of 1919 he married a young widow from Maybole, Helen Fitch White (née Colquhoun). Helen was born in Maybole in October 1892, one of five children of Thomas and Mary Colquhoun. She had married her first husband William White in 1912 and their son William Jr. was born in 1915. George and Helen were married in Glasgow on 4 June 1919. His half-brother Samuel McDougall Meek was at the wedding and served as a witness.

In 1919 forestry operations in the UK were winding down but married men with wives in the UK were among the last to be returned to Canada. George, Helen and little William embarked from Liverpool on 2 September on the SS Minnedosa, landing at Quebec a week later. George was officially discharged in Quebec on 14 September with his intended address listed as Keewatin. In 1923 his half-brother Thomas McDougall Meek immigrated to Canada with his wife and they also settled in Keewatin. During the war Thomas had served with the Royal Engineers.

George and Helen raised four children, her son William and three daughters. Sadly they also lost three infant sons, George Jr. in 1920 and twins Thomas and Samuel in 1926. George had a long career in the packing department of the Lake of the Woods Milling Company in Keewatin. He was a member of St. Louis Roman Catholic Church. He passed away in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kenora on 26 January 1946, at age 59. His funeral was held two days later and he’s buried in the Catholic Block of Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

George is commemorated on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, a Roll of Honour for mill staff and citizens of Keewatin who served in the Great War. He is also remembered on the Municipality of Keewatin ‘For King and Country’ 1914-1918 Honour Roll.

By Becky Johnson

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