|Date of Birth||May 10, 1880|
|Place of Birth||Ottawa, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||John F. MacGillivray (brother), Crown Attorney, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Timber Scaler|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||10/05/1916|
|Age at Enlistment||36|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||15/04/1917|
|Age at Death||36|
|Buried At||No known grave; commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France|
Private Grant MacGillivray arrived in France in March 1917 and served with the 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders). He died of wounds a month later during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
James Alexander Farquhar Grant MacGillivray, known as Grant, was born on 10 May 1880 in Ottawa, Ontario. His parents, Farquhar MacGillivray and Jane Mary MacFarlane, were both born in Canada to Scottish parents. Farquhar was from Williamstown in Upper Canada and his wife was born in Montreal. Grant was their youngest child and they had three other sons: John, Archibald and Edmund. Farquhar was employed for many years as a clerk at the House of Commons.
When Grant was five years old he lost both his mother and his brother Archibald. Archibald died of whooping cough in March 1885, at age ten, and his mother passed away three months later, suffering from consumption. They were buried in Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa. Grant was living at home with his father for both the 1891 and 1901 censuses, with no occupation listed. He was still there in February 1907 when his father died of pneumonia at age 74. Farquhar was buried in Beechwood Cemetery beside his wife and son. According to his obituary he had a long career on the staff of the House of Commons, retiring in 1903 when he was 70. After his father’s death Grant headed out west, possibly spending some time in British Columbia. By the time he enlisted in the spring of 1916 he was living in Kenora, Ontario. His brothers had both moved to Kenora several years earlier, John in the 1890s and Edmund by 1911. John was a Barrister and Crown Attorney for the District of Kenora. He was also a dedicated supporter of the Kenora Thistles hockey team and he served as their secretary in 1907 when they won the Stanley Cup.
Grant and his brother Edmund MacGillivray both enlisted in Kenora on 10 May 1916, which was Grant’s 36th birthday. They joined the 94th Battalion, a local unit that was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. At the end of May the Kenora volunteers headed to Port Arthur to join the rest of the battalion and on 9 June they left for Quebec. They trained for a couple of weeks at Valcartier, a military camp north of Quebec City. Edmund was discharged at Valcartier and he re-enlisted for Home Service and spent the rest of the war in Canada. The 94th Battalion embarked for England at the end of June but Grant was held back in Quebec and transferred to the 148th Battalion. He left Quebec with his new unit at the end of September, embarking on the SS Laconia and arriving in England on 6 October. In January 1917 Grant was assigned to the 20th Reserve Battalion. Just two weeks later he was transferred to the 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders) and sent to France. He arrived at the base depot in Le Havre at the end of January and joined his unit in the field in mid-March.
That spring the Canadian Divisions were undergoing intensive training for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which began early in the morning on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. The 13th Battalion was not part of the assault but acted as Brigade support and a report centre, maintaining lines of communication between all the units. Over the next few days the battalion cleaned equipment, worked on trenches and dugouts, and supplied parties of men to help clear the battlefield and build roads. On the night of 13 April they were moved into the forward area and two days later they went into the front trenches, facing heavy artillery fire on the way. During the advance Grant was reported missing in action. He was found on the night of 15 April by Sergeant Dennett of the 52nd Battalion. Dennett was also from Kenora and he wrote a letter to John MacGillivray, giving an account of his brother’s last hours. He said they’d found Grant in a shell hole a few hundred yards behind the front line, suffering from a broken leg and arm. He died of his wounds while being taken to a dressing station.
From the Circumstances of Death record for Grant: Previously reported Missing now Killed in Action. About 10.30 on the night of April 15th, 1917, he was found in a shell hole, his right leg was broken in two places also his left arm. He was given First Aid but died on his way to a dressing station in Vimy.
Grant is believed to be buried in ‘Vimy Cemetery’ but after the war his grave could not be identified. He’s commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France. Inscribed on the monument walls are the names of over 11,000 Canadians who died in France and have no known grave. Grant is also commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial and the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral Roll of Honour.
By Becky Johnson