|Date of Birth||September 27, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Andrew D. McKenzie (Father), Sarah Jane McKenzie (Mother), 210 North Main St. , Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||May 5, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||18|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 30, 1935|
|Age at Death||38|
|Buried At||Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
Lawrence James McKenzie
Birth date and location: Lawrence James McKenzie was born on September 27,1896 in Kenora, Ontario, son of Andrew Dallas McKenzie and his wife, Sarah Jane Mitchell. Andrew was born of United Empire Loyalist parentage in Orillia, Ontario in 1857. He moved to Rat Portage (later known as Kenora) in 1888, working as a carpenter. He and Sarah were married in St. Andrews, Manitoba, January 4, 1893 and moved permanently to Rat Portage shortly after, where they began to raise their family.
When Lawrence was born, Andrew was recorded as a Machinist; however, at the time of the 1901 Census, he was working as a Pump Repairman with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). He and Sarah (aged 31) were recorded as having three children: daughter, Florence Mabel (born about 1893); Lawrence James; and another son, Dallas M. (born 1900). All children were born in Ontario. The family was Presbyterian.
Early Life: The McKenzie family does not appear in the 1911 Census, however, in all subsequent records, their residence is 210 North Main Street, Kenora, Ontario; thus, it is expected they had been living in the town since they first arrived several years earlier. Although little is known of Lawrence, his siblings or his parents prior to the war, there is evidence of tragedy with the deaths of two children: Jessie was born in 1895 and died the following year. Another child, Mary Jane, born in 1901, died in 1908. Both girls are buried in the same plot in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. There were at least four other children born by 1911.
At the time of his enlistment, Lawrence was residing in Kenora with his parents. He was recorded as being a labourer and also a ranchman, suggesting he was working on a farm, in the area.
War experience: Lawrence’s military record is, at times, confusing. On some records, the spelling of the surname is MacKenzie and on one record, Port Arthur, Ontario, rather than Kenora, was incorrectly given at his place of enlistment. Throughout the file, there are also different dates given for his enlistment, and variations of his Regimental Number. For example, one document states he first enlisted with the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment, on December 1,1914; however, there is no Attestation Paper to this effect and no further mention of this date in Lawrence’s record.
There are, however, two sets of Attestation Papers in his file. The first is for his enlistment on May 25, 1915, in Kenora, with the 52nd Battalion. His Regimental Number was 439273. This is also his correct number. By August 9th of 1915, Lawrence was reported missing from duty and on October 26, 1915, he was posted as a deserter. There is no record of where Lawrence may have gone or where he may have been living during or after this date. Lawrence re-attested on November 19, 1917, in Winnipeg, with the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. In this document, he indicated he had served 4 months with the 52nd Battalion. His new Regimental Number was given as 39273; however, on some subsequent reports, a 4 is placed at the front of the number. On both occasions, Lawrence was declared medically fit to serve.
Lawrence travelled with his Manitoba unit to St. John, New Brunswick, and was staying in the armouries, prior to embarkation to England. By June 8th, however, a series of reports expressed concern about his welll-being: he was being unresponsive to commands, leaving the barracks without permission and not always returning on time. Further, the reports indicated he would have outbursts of laughter during the day and also at night time. On June 10, 1918, Lawrence was transferred to the Provincial Hospital of New Brunswick in St. John where further observations were made. He was diagnosed as having “mental deficiency” and was declared medically unfit to serve. Lawrence was discharged from service, July 12, 1918. On a Post Discharge Paper, his Regimental Number is, once again, incorrectly recorded as 2330273. Following his discharge, Lawrence returned to live with his parents in Kenora and to work as a ranch hand.
Life after the war: Although it is not known how long Lawrence remained living or working in Kenora, it is known that by the 1921 Canadian Census, he was a patient at the “Selkirk Asylum”, in Selkirk, Manitoba. He was 25 years old at the time and working as a ranchman.
Meanwhile, in the 1921 census, Lawrence’s parents and several siblings continued to reside in Kenora at 201 North Main Street. The household included his parents, Andrew and Sarah and five children: Mabel (born about 1893-94 and working as a teacher); Kate (born about 1904, student); Edgar (born about 1906, student); Gordon (born about 1908, student); and Grace (born about 1911, student).
Lawrence died young, at the age of 39 years, on March 30, 1935. His death, at the Selkirk Institution, was attributed to epilepsy. He was buried on April 8, 1935, in the Military Field of Honour (Lot 947 Grave 0) at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, “Where all Veterans receive the same level of recognition, regardless of rank, race, religion or creed, while being commemorated individually.” His Regimental Number was, once again, mistakenly recorded as 24337.
Lawrence’s parents are both buried in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Andrew died January 28,1936. Sarah died many years later on January 15, 1964.
Prepared with respect by Susan [Hillman] Brazeau for the Kenora Great War Project
Ancestry.ca (Canadian Census Records, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1916, 1921; Birth, Deaths and Marriages-Canada; Individual name searches; Find-a-Grave)
Kenora Daily Miner and News (Great War articles; Obituaries)
Kenora Great War Project File (Photographs, newspaper articles, obituaries, and other gathered resources)
Library and Archives Canada (first World War Personnel Records; Canadian Census Records)
Norther Ontario Gravemarker Gallery (Lake of the Woods Cemetery)