Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 22, 1894
Place of BirthComber, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAlexander W. Warren (Father), 74 Bridge Ave., Windsor, Ontario
Trade / CallingCar Repairer
ReligionMethodist
Service Details
Regimental Number3034850
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentToronto, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentSault Ste Marie, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 16, 1918
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 13, 1951
Age at Death56
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotLegion Plot, Liberty View Block, 37E-36-1

Warren, Thomas Gordon

Birth: Thomas Gordon Warren  was born in Comber, Essex County, Ontario, October 22, 1894, son of Alexander Wellington Warren and Margaret S. Vanavery.  Alexander was born  1865 in Dundas County, Ontario. Margaret was born November 25, 1866 in Elgin County, Ontario. The two married in May 15, 1889 in Windsor, Ontario.

Early Life:  Alex and Maggie, as they were called,  had four children all born in Comber: Clara Maud (born 1889); twins, Francis Leroy (a son known as Frank) and Frances Louise (a daughter), born two months before the census of 1891; and Thomas.  The family of  six appears to be moving around within this area of southwestern Ontario and is found living in Tilbury, Essex County, according to the 1901 census. All family members are identified as Methodist.

Over the next few years, beginning in 1903 up to about 1916, Thomas is known to have moved back and forth to different points in the United States and Canada.  In the 1910 U.S. Census, he and his parents are recorded in Pennsylvania. Both Alex and Thomas were employed as labourers.   By the 1911 census, however, the  three of them were  back in Canada living in Windsor. Francis is recorded as living  with Thomas and his parents, but  the two sisters are no longer with the family.

In 1913 and again in 1916, Thomas crossed the border to work in the United States, finally returning, once again, to Canada, in late 1916. Prior to his enlistment, he  had been  living in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and was working as a ‘car repairer’.  In most records, Thomas is recorded as a labourer, and once, as a painter.

War experience:    While living in Sault Ste. Marie, Thomas spent 5 months with the 51st Regiment, Soo Rifles.  He was conscripted in 1918, enlisting April 16, 1918 in Toronto with the 1st Depot Battalion, 1st C.O.R.  He was immediately transferred to the 2nd Depot and sailed to England on the SS Casson arriving August 15, 1918. He was sent to France in September at which time he was transferred to the 8th Canadian Railway Troop with the rank of Sapper.  Thomas was demobilized March 19, 1919.  He signed his receipt of discharge papers on March 29, 1919 in Montreal, and gave his address as 74 Bridge St., Windsor, Ontario. Mrs. Raymond (Clara Maud) Puffer living in Tecumseh, Michigan, U.S.A. was next of kin.

Life after the war:    In the 1921 census, Thomas is working as a labourer and living with his parents and brother, Frank, at 74 Bridge Avenue, Sandwich West, Township of Sandwich West, Windsor, Essex County.  Frank had enlisted in 1918 and served with the 63rd Battalion, returning to the family home March 1919.

On April 14, 1923, there is a Thomas Warren arriving in Winnipeg from the United States, however, there is no confirmation it is this Thomas.  Then, in October 23, 1930, Thomas is recorded as crossing the border at Sumas, Washington State with the purpose of living and working in the United States for an indefinite period of time. His birth date and location and mother’s name are also recorded, thus verifying it is the correct Thomas.

It is unclear where Thomas went after this, or if he married or had children. The 1949 Voters’ List shows a Thomas G., labourer, living in Waterloo, Ontario, but there are no others living with him who have the same surname.  Also, recent contact with relatives of Thomas has not led to answers  to these specific  questions.   Instead, he was remembered as a wanderer and something of a loner, working when he chose to work and visiting his mother, or brother Frank, or sister Frankie and her husband, at times when he was not working.

Although very little is known of Thomas, he has not been forgotten by his  nieces, nephews and cousins across the generations.  They shared one final  story  about a letter received by  Clara’s family many years ago – a letter that tells of the death of a family member, a woodsman, who died in his cabin outside of Kenora, and who was buried in the local cemetery. It was confirmed  this man was  Thomas.

Death and burial:    According to the Lake of the Woods Cemetery records, on August 13, 1951, Thomas died in his cabin on the McKenzie Portage Road, outside of Keewatin, Ontario.  He was buried in  a veteran’s   plot in what is now part of the  Liberty View Block of the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.  Here, his grave is tended to and remembered by  caring and respectful strangers, every November 11th.

There was no newspaper article.    There was no obituary; but somebody knew he had served in World War I…and they knew what to put on his grave marker. The grave marker is very informative, stating both birth and death years, and his rank and the troop in which he served; however, for all of these years, the white cross above his grave site has had an entirely different name written upon it.    Perhaps there has been nobody to notice the difference, until now. Perhaps, now, the mishap will be amended to properly honour this veteran, whose life’s wanderings brought him to Kenora, his final resting place.

By Susan (Hillman) Brazeau in support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died

Sources:

Ontario Birth Indexes
Ontario Marriage Index
1891 Canada Census
1901 Canada Census
Border Crossings into the United States: 1903, 1913, 1916, 1923
1910 U.S. Census (Pennsylvania)
1911 Canada Census
1916 Canada Soldiers of the First World War
Library and Archives Canada: First World War Data base
Veteran’s  Death Card
Canada Ships Lists (The Cedric, March 1919)
1921 Canada Census
Voters’ Lists Canada: Ontario (Waterloo, Ontario)
Lake of the Woods Cemetery Records
Family members, S.J and K.P.

Warren-Thomas-Gordon-2 Warren-Thomas-Gordon-3 Warren-Thomas-Gordon-4


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