|Date of Birth||September 21, 1898|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||George Barnes, (Father), Kenora, Ontario, Canada|
|Trade / Calling||Student|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora,Ontario, Canada|
|Date of Enlistment||August 3, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||17|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 9, 1958|
|Age at Death||60|
|Buried At||Mountainview Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario|
|Plot||New Section 117 -Military Field of Honour|
Birth and Location: George McMurray Barnes was born in Rat Portage (Kenora), District of Rainy River, Ontario, September 21, 1898, the son of George Barnes and his second wife, Sara (McMurray) Barnes. Sara was the younger sister of George’s first wife, Fanny (McMurray) Barnes. Different records have different spellings for his middle name: McMurray, MacMurray, and, in one one military document, two spellings are on the same page, one of which is McMurrey. McMurray is the spelling on his birth record.
Early Childhood: In the 1901 Canadian Census, the Barnes family is living in Rat Portage (now within the district of Algoma) where George is employed as a Merchant, whereas in the 1891 census, he had been identified as a furniture salesman. The family is Methodist and consists of George, Sara and four children. Sara was the mother to George Henry (1895-1896); Fannie E (born 1897); and George McMurray (born 1898). Fanny, George’s first wife, was the mother of the two oldest children: Fanny Hazelton (born 1886-called Hazel in the 1891 census) and Winnifred (born 1892). Fanny, who died in childbirth in 1894, also had one other known child, Leona (1888) who appears to have died before the 1891 census.
In the 1911 Canadian Census, the family is living at 810 2nd Street, South in what is now known as Kenora. The family consists of parents George and Sarah and Fanny H., Winnifred, and George. George, the father is recorded as employed in Customs and Fanny is employed as a Customs Broker. Although not indicated, George, the son, at age 12, is likely attending school.
War Experience: On August 3, 1915, George enlisted in Kenora with the 52nd Battalion. He listed himself as a school boy. It appears he provided the wrong birth year, as he was actually underage by about a year. Private George Barnes left Saint John, New Brunswick on the S.S. Californian on November 23rd and arrived in England on December 3, 1916. He later embarked for France February 20, 1916.
On May 1, 1916, he became ill and was taken to the General Hospital in Wimereux. He returned to the field on May 10th; however, he became ill again while in the trenches in Ypres and was diagnosed with Pleurisy. He was treated at Boulogne for 2 weeks, then, Netley from May 10 to July 13, 1916, and finally the Canadian Convalescent Home at Bear Wood, Wodingham, in England, July 13, 1916. Having been in front of the medical board earlier, a decision was made to return George to Canada for treatment. He was recorded as being with the 11th Reserve Unit at the time. He sailed for Canada October 24th, and, on November 5, 1916, he received a full medical discharge due to being permanently unfit for service. His final report indicated that the condition of his goiter and both his heart and lungs had been affected by his illnesses that occurred during his war service.
On April 11, 1917, at the recorded age of 18 years 1 month, George was formally discharged. It was noted that he had served in Flanders.
During this time, the Kenora Daily Miner and News reported that George’s parents had received notification of his illness and subsequent return to Canada. When he was travelling by Canadian Pacific Railway across Canada, his parents went to greet him at the station; however, George was required to continue to Winnipeg to convalesce.
Life After the War: Upon his discharge from hospital, George listed his address as 118 Cameron Street, Fort William, Ontario (present day Thunder Bay). On November 20, 1918, he married Mary Clotilda L’Esperance, daughter of Alphonse L’esperance (sic) and Matilda Bonnin. Less than a year later, on September 29, 1919, George received a War Gratuity at which time he was living at 134 Rowand Street in Fort William. In the 1921 Canadian Census, George, who was working as a fireman, Mary, and their one year old daughter, Lila, were living with Mary’s parents at 181 Robertson Street, Fort William, Ontario.
George is also recorded in the Canada Voters’ Lists of 1935, 1949 and 1957, living at the same address of 135 Dease Street, Fort William, Ontario, until his death in 1958. The 1935 list records George, who is employed with the city fire department; Mrs. George Barnes (married); and, Alphonse Lesparance (sic), grain sampler.
In the 1949 Voters’ list, George is recorded as a City Foreman (fireman?)along with his wife, Clothilde Barnes (no further information); Theo, who is described as a spinster; Lila Hepburn, a clerk (who appears to be George’s married daughter); and, Alphonse Lesperance (sic), grain sampler.
In the 1957 Voters’ list, George, who continues to be a fireman, is recorded with his wife, Mary C., Theo, a stenographer; and, Alphonse Le’sperance (sic) who has continued to be a grain sampler. It is unclear if the Alphonse in these Voters’ Lists is Mary’s father; however, additional research on the L’Esperance family may determine the relationship.
Overall, George and Mary had five children: Lila Viola (1919-1996); CliffordJoseph (1921-2006); Eugene Roy (1924-2003); Alice Mae (1928-2005); and Theodora (-1996).
George had been a firefighter in Fort William for 35 years, having joined the department in 1923. According to his obituary, he was a member of the following organizations: International Association of Firefighters; Fort William Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion; Army, Navy and Airforce Veterans; 52nd Old Boys Club; Lake Superior Scottish Regiment; and the Officers and Sergeants Mess. He also belonged to the Fort William Elks and Moose Lodges, the Kaministiqua Lodge, AF and AM 584, and the Fort William Club.
Death and Burial Location: George died June 9, 1958 in Fort William, Ontario and is buried in Mountainview Cemetery, New Section 117 -Military Field of Honour, Thunder Bay (originally in Fort William). Mary, their five children and 12 grandchildren survived him. His obituary, one with a photo, was placed in both the Fort William Daily Times Journal and the Port Arthur News Chronicle. It is noted that the spelling of his middle names was MacMurray. Mary died in 1998 and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Thunder Bay.
Prepared by Susan [Hillman] Brazeau in support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died
1891 Census of Canada
1901 Census of Canada
1911 Census of Canada
1921 Census of Canada
Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928
Canada, Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913
Kenora Daily Miner and News: Articles
Library and Archives Canada: First World War database
Library and Archives of Canada: Veterans Death Card Index
Fort William Daily Times Journal (June 9, 1958 – Obituary)
Port Arthur News Chronicle (June 9, 1958 – Obituary with photo)
Ancestry.ca: Related family Trees
A family researcher, ‘BarbHay’ was located on ancestry.ca who also forwarded a copy of the obituary and provided additional family information.