|Date of Birth||April 17, 1891|
|Place of Birth||Rat Portage (Kenora), Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Maria Beggs, sister, Rideout, Kenora|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Port Arthur, Ontario|
|Age at Enlistment||23|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 4, 1917|
|Age at Death||26|
|Buried At||Noeux-Les-Mines Communal Cemetery Extension, de Calais, France|
Adolphus Henry Begg was born on 17 April 1891 in the Rat Portage, Ontario (later named Kenora) area. His parents were John and Juliette (Sturgeon) Begg. The son of Charles Begg, a Hudson Bay Company employee that had immigrated from Favel, Sandwick, Orkney, Scotland in 1831 and married a Metis woman, Catherine Spence, Adolphus’ father John was originally from the Selkirk, Manitoba area while his mother Juliette was from Islington Mission, Ontario. In Ontario he too had worked for the Hudson Bay Company and was known as one of the best trappers in the area. The 1881 Canada census found John, Juliette and one child listed as Harriet but who was likely Maria living in the Eastern Extension of the Manitoba Extension, an area that later became part of Ontario. John’s occupation was given as trader. By the 1891 Canada census for District 26, Algoma West, Keewatin North, family members included parents John and Juliette, and children Maria, Charles, John, Annie (Mary Ann), and James. Sometime before the 1901 Canada census, the family had moved to Rat Portage and two more children were added to the family, Adolphus and Joseph. The family was hit with tragedy in the form of many early deaths: Adolphus’ brother James died of consumption 27 January 1897 in Islington (White Dog), his sister Ellen born in 1882 died 09 December 1888* of consumption, his sister Emma born 19 December 1893 died 15 April 1894 of whooping cough, his sister Munite born 19 December 1896 died 27 December 1896, his brother Charles died 11 October 1902 of consumption in Rat Portage, at age 46 his mother Juliette died 31 January 1906 in Rat Portage also of consumption, followed by his father John on 07 March 1910 of heart disease, and then his brother Joseph on 21 September 1912 of tuberculosis.
Although the Kenora Miner and News stated that Adolphus Henry Begg enlisted in December 1914 in Kenora, he actually signed his attestation papers in Port Arthur on 25 May 1915. Giving his sister Maria as next of kin, eventual payroll proceeds were sent to her in Kenora. Recruiting for the 52nd Battalion continued throughout the spring and summer of 1915 across northwestern Ontario, with recruits being billeted privately in Port Arthur and Fort William until moved to Gresley Park in Port Arthur to undergo basic training on 07 June 1915. On 04 November 1915, the Battalion entrained to St John, New Brunswick, arriving 08 November 1915. Aboard the SS California, the 52nd Battalion sailed for Plymouth, England on 23 November 1915. Arriving 03 December 1915, the Battalion moved to Witley Camp for 6 weeks of training under British instructors. In the new year, the Battalion moved to Bramshott for 2 more weeks of training and on 20 February 1916, sailed for France. From there the Battalion went by train to Belgium.
On 04 September 1917, Private Adolphus Henry Begg was reported as having died of his wounds. From the CEF burial register for Adolphus: ‘Died of wounds’ (gunshot wound head and hand) at No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station.’ He is buried in the Noeux-Les-Mines Communal Cemetery Extension in Calais, France. Noeux-Les-Mines is a town 6 kilometres south of Bethune. The Communal Cemetery was used by the Commonwealth forces from Jun 1915 to Aug 1917 and contains 980 Commonwealth burials from the First World War. The Extension was begun in August 1917, used by the 6th and 7th Casualty Clearing Stations until December 1918. The Extension contains 304 Commonwealth burials and 12 German war graves.
Adolphus’ sister Mary Ann married David Valentine and had at least two children before moving to Winnipeg where David was chief of police for Transcona. David died in 1937 and Mary Ann in 1969. She is interred in the Transcona Cemetery. Adolphus’ sister Maria died on 16 November 1946 in Kenora; she never married. Adolphus’ Medals and Decorations, Plaque and Scroll were sent to her after the war. A cousin, James Begg, served during WW1, also making the ultimate sacrifice as he was reported as ‘missing, presumed dead’ on 8 October 1916 while with the 43rd Battalion.
Private Adolphus Henry Begg is commemorated on page 199 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, on the Anishinaabe Veterans Hero plaque in the Ne-chee Friendship Centre, on a plaque hanging in St Alban’s Cathedral in Kenora, and on the Aboriginal Veterans Tribute Honour List website.
by Judy Stockham
Although he signed his papers as Adolphus Begg, the record taker added an ‘s’ to the surname which continued on throughout his records and over time, became the usual spelling.
Adolphus’ family is found on the Metis national Council Online Database. On the 1901 census his name is given as Adolphus H Begg and his ethnic group is given as Scotch, sb=Scotch breed (1901 Algoma 44, Rat Portage N2-3 Page 25). His mother’s ethnic group is listed as Chippewa and father’s is Scotch sb.
Information about Adolphus’ grandparents is from Hudson Bay Company Archives and The Genealogy of the First Metis Nation, compiled by D N Sprague and R P Frye. Information about the 52nd Battalion taken from 52ndbattalion.com
* death record date but family gravemarker gives date as 18 December 1887