Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 6, 1898
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAnnie McFadden, mother, 52 McAdam Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingBookkeeper
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number186200
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion9th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment52 McAdam Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentNovember 9, 1915
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 12, 1984
Age at Death86
Buried AtGlendale Memorial Gardens, Etobicoke, Ontario

McFadden, John Albert

John Albert (Bert) McFadden was born on 6 July 1898 in Keewatin, Ontario, a small town a few kilometres west of present day Kenora in northwestern Ontario. In his early years he went by the name of Albert while in adulthood as Bert. His father Alpheus McFadden, a miller, was from the Marlborough Township in eastern Ontario. He had married Lucretia Jane Olmstead, also from Marlborough, on 26 January 1887 in Burritts Rapids in Marlborough. Moving to Keewatin to work at the local flour mill, the couple gave birth to daughters Mary Jane in 1891, the baby passing away the next day, and Edith Florence in 1893. Sadly, Lucretia died on 29 November 1896 in Keewatin. Alpheus later married Agnes (aka Annie) Short on 29 May 1898 in nearby Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora). Born in Glasgow in 1875 to Alexander and Janet (née Gray) Short, it is likely that Agnes had immigrated to Canada in 1884 aboard the Buenos Aryean along with a party of British Home children from the Quarrier’s Orphans Homes of Scotland, her family having fallen on hard times and entering a workhouse. While in Keewatin Alpheus and Agnes gave birth to Albert, Ernest Alpheus (1900), and George Erwin (1903). By the birth of their next child in 1905, daughter Mary Ann, the family had moved to Swan River Manitoba. A 1906 advertisement in a Winnipeg paper listed Alpheus as the provisional director of the Swan River Milling Company. By the 1911 census he was working as a real estate and life insurance agent. Children born in Swan River were Mary Ann, Norman James (1909), and Lillian Agnes (1912). Moving to Winnipeg, Ray Howard was born in 1914. First working as a real estate agent, Alpheus later worked as a miller in a flour mill in Winnipeg.

Albert enlisted with the 90th Battalion on 9 November 1915 in Winnipeg. Likely to appear older, he gave his year of birth as 1897. His occupation was given as bookkeeper and his mother Annie (Agnes) in Winnipeg as next of kin. Arriving in England aboard the Olympic on 8 June 1916, Albert was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe in early July. Transferring to the 78th Battalion for duty overseas, Albert arrived in France that August. By October he was transferred to the 24th Battalion. On 14 November 1916 Albert was admitted to the No 4 General Hospital in Camiers with pleurisy and was invalided to England to the Queen Mary Military Hospital in Whalley in Lancaster by the end of the month. In December he was moved to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epsom and then on to the Moore Barracks Hospital at Shorncliffe by year end. Diagnosed with a pulmonary embolus following hernia surgery, Albert was listed as seriously ill in January of 1917. He then went through a series of transfers to various hospitals and units before transferring to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot at Purfleet in June of 1917. That October he joined the 9th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops in the field. Canadian railway units played a major role in the construction and maintenance of railways of all gauges, including light railways, for the five British Army areas in France and Belgium. In September of 1918 Albert was granted a two week leave to the UK, returning on 12 October. With the end of the war, he returned to England in December, on command to the 12th Reserve Battalion. He arrived back in Canada at Halifax aboard the Lapland on 1 March 1919, on his way home to Winnipeg. Albert was discharged from service on 31 March 1919 in Winnipeg, rank of Private.

At the time of the 1921 census Bert was living with his parents and some of his siblings in Winnipeg, and along with his father was working as a miller at a flour mill. On 2 November 1932, in Winnipeg, he married Edythe Beryl McLaughlin. Born on 9 November 1911 in Winnipeg, Beryl was the daughter of James McLaughlin, an express messenger, and Florence Louise Taylor. Both from England, her parents had married on 19 January 1907 in Ottawa. Beryl’s father had served in South Africa during the Boer War and as a Battery Sergeant Major with the 5th Artillery Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in WW1. In July of 1918 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Not a lot is known about Bert’s life after they married. First living in Winnipeg, a 1935 Voter’s list gave Bert’s occupation as salesman. At the time of Beryl’s mother’s death in 1941 in Vancouver they were living in Regina. Moving to the Toronto area by the mid 1950’s, Voter’s lists gave Bert’s occupation as store manager. The couple gave birth to two children, Clayton and Diane.

Bert died on 12 May 1984 in the Mississauga Hospital. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Beryl, son Clayton (Joan) of Cambridge, Ontario, daughter Diane (Malcolm) Dodge of Georgetown, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. Also surviving were siblings Norman of Grimsby, Ontario (d 2003), Mary Ann (William) Baillie of Scarborough, Ontario (d 1994), and Lillian (Howard) Good of Victoria, BC (d 2000). He was predeceased by his father Alpheus in 1932 and mother Agnes in 1938, both in Winnipeg, and siblings Ernest in 1930 in Winnipeg, Edith (John Roderick) Matheson in 1955 in London, Ontario, George in 1963 in Winnipeg, and Ray in 1967 in New Westminster, BC. Beryl later died on 22 March 1996 in the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga. Bert and Beryl are interred in Glendale Memorial Gardens in Etobicoke, Ontario.

By Judy Stockham


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