Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 3, 1873
Place of BirthKirkcaldy, County of Fife
CountryScotland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinThomas Kerr, c/o David Gould, Sutherland P.O., SK (address later changed to Lundar, MB)
Trade / CallingBarber and homestead farmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number204383
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion96th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentSaskatoon, Saskatchewan
Address at EnlistmentViscount, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentMarch 3, 1916
Age at Enlistment42
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 11, 1916
Age at Death42
Buried AtUnion Cemetery, Viscount, Saskatchewan

Kerr, Peter

Private Peter Kerr was a homestead farmer living in Viscount, Saskatchewan when the war started. He enlisted in Saskatoon on 6 March 1916 and took his own life five days later.

Peter was born in 1873 in Kirkcaldy, county of Fife, Scotland, the son of Thomas Kerr and Catherine Christie. He immigrated to Canada with his family when he was about ten years old. When the 1891 census was taken Peter was living in the St. Andrew’s area in Manitoba, where his family was farming. He was 17 years old and the household included his mother Catherine, his brothers Thomas, William and George and his sister Catherine. William was married in 1903 in Winnipeg and Peter was a witness, his address listed as Beausejour, Manitoba. William and his wife Elizabeth lived in Beausejour for several years. In 1909 they moved to Viscount, Saskatchewan, where William had filed a homestead claim the previous year.

At the time of the 1901 census Peter’s brother George was working as a cook at Sultana mine in northwestern Ontario. The mine was on Lake of the Woods southeast of the town of Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora). Peter was a barber by trade and he spent a few years living in Kenora, where he operated a barber shop on Matheson Street. It was during the time the CPR was double-tracking in the Kenora area (ca1905-1910). From Kenora he apparently moved to Carberry, Manitoba and by 1911 he had joined his brother William in Viscount. Peter filed his own homestead claim on land north of the town. He may have also worked at the pool hall and barber shop in Viscount, which was owned by John Boyle. William had his homestead and he also operated a restaurant and hotel.

Peter enlisted in Saskatoon on Monday, 6 March 1916, signing up with the 96th Battalion (Canadian Highlanders). The unit had been organized the previous fall and it was being recruited in the Saskatoon area. Peter’s attestation recorded him as 5’4″ tall with fair hair and blue eyes. He said he was 42 years old and born on 3 September 1873 in Kirkcaldy, county of Fife, Scotland. Next of kin was his brother Thomas in the village of Sutherland, near Saskatoon.

After enlisting Peter returned home to Viscount to take care of personal matters. He apparently died of self-inflicted wounds on Saturday, 11 March, and his body was found in his bedroom at the barber shop. William was the executor of his estate but Thomas, as next of kin, received Peter’s memorial plaque and scroll. When they were sent to him he was living in Lundar, Manitoba.

Peter is buried in Union Cemetery in Viscount. Also buried there are his brother William (1871-1935) and William’s wife, Elizabeth (1870-1961). Peter is commemorated on the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial and on the Viscount Roll of Honour, published in their local history book, ‘Footprints of Time: Viscount and District 1905-1985.’ He is also remembered on page 113 of Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance, displayed in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

By Becky Johnson

Kerr-Peter-90 Kerr-Peter-91 Kerr-Peter-92

Pool hall photo and some information is from: Footprints of Time: Viscount and District 1905-1985 (Friesen Printers, Altona, Manitoba, 1985).

Grave marker photo courtesy of Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project, photo by Ron Isherwood.


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