|Date of Birth||December 25, 1895|
|Place of Birth||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Joseph Gagnon (father), Keewatin, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Waiter|
|Regimental Number||448192 and 3083491|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Place of Enlistment||Montreal, Quebec|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
Private Adelard Gagnon was one of three brothers from Keewatin, Ontario who enlisted during the war. He served for a year overseas in the UK and France and returned to Canada in May 1919.
Adelard was the son of Joseph Gagnon and Victoria Madore of Keewatin, Ontario. Joseph and Victoria were both born in Quebec. They were married in Keewatin in 1892 and they had at least six children over the next eleven years: Charles Joseph, William Alfred, Adelard, Napoleon, Edmond and Wilfred. Adelard was born in Keewatin on 25 December 1895. The next son, Napoleon, was born in 1899. He died as an infant and he’s buried in the Catholic section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora, a neighbouring town to Keewatin.
When the 1911 census was taken Charles was working in a local flour mill and William was working at a sawmill. Their father was an invalid and unemployed at the time. The war started in August 1914 and the three oldest boys all enlisted, Charles in August 1915, Adelard in October 1915 and William in October 1916. Adelard enlisted in Montreal on 13 October 1915, joining the 57th Battalion. He gave his occupation as waiter and next of kin as his father in Keewatin. He trained with his unit for about four months before being discharged in Quebec City on 10 February 1916 due to being medically unfit for further service.
Conscription was introduced in Canada the following year and single men age 20 to 34 were required to register by November 1917. Adelard was an inmate at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary in Laval, Quebec at the time, under the alias Stanley Johnson. Medical officers came to the prison to carry out the army medicals. Adelard had his on 12 December 1917 and he was found fit for overseas service. He was likely released from prison by the following spring and he was called up for service on 15 April 1918 in Montreal, under the name Stanley Johnson (reg. no. 3083491). He gave his occupation as waiter, next of kin as his father in Keewatin and he said he had served with the 57th Battalion but didn’t remember his regimental number.
Adelard was assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Quebec Regiment and sent overseas a month later. He embarked from Montreal on 15 May on the SS City of Marseilles and arrived in London, England in early June. He was transferred to the 23rd Reserve Battalion and he spent four weeks in segregation at Camp Frensham, which was typical at the time. Shortly after he left the camp the military authorities learned he was using an alias. A note in his service file said from that time forward he would be known as Private Adelard Gagnon.
On 3 October 1918 Adelard was drafted to the 87th Battalion and sent to France. He joined his unit in the field near the end of the month and the Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November. In December Adelard became ill (vdg) and he was sent to England for treatment. At the end of January 1919 he was admitted to Croydon War Hospital suffering from defective vision. He spent ten days there followed by two and a half months at the convalescent centre in Epsom. Adelard was released to duty on 24 March and he sailed for Canada on 14 May on the SS Caronia. He was discharged on demobilization on 26 May in Port Arthur, Ontario. He was awarded the British War and Victory medals. His brother William Alfred served overseas and survived the war but Charles Joseph died in England on 9 March 1919.
Little is known of Adelard’s life after the war. When his mother passed away in Kenora in 1951 her obituary said that Adelard was in Alberta. When his brother William died in 1959 the obituary did not mention Adelard so it’s possible he died sometime during the 1950s. His parents and his brothers William and Edmond are all buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora, along with other family members.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Victory Medal.