|Date of Birth||June 4, 1879|
|Place of Birth||Plouguerneau, Finistére|
|Trade / Calling||Cultivateur (farmer)|
|Branch||147th Infantry Regiment|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Age at Enlistment||35|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||Yes|
|Date of Death||February 12, 1925|
|Age at Death||45|
Francois Marie Salou was born on 4 June 1879 in Plouguerneau, Finistère in northwestern France. His father Jean Salou was from Guissény while his mother Marie Jeanne Francoise Cabon was from Plouguerneau, the communities about 9 kilometres apart in Finistère. The couple married on 20 November 1873 in Plouguerneau, Jean’s occupation cultivateur (farmer). Known children born to the family were Marie Yvonne (1874), Jean Marie (1876), Marie Jeanne (1877-1877), Francois, Marie Jeanne (1881-1882), Marie Anne (1883-1943), and Anne Marie (1886-1976). His father died in 1899 and his mother in 1912, both in Plouguerneau.
Francois immigrated to Canada in 1907, arriving in Halifax on 11 April on the Pomeranian. The passenger list indicated that he was on his way to Winnipeg but he ended up settling in the Camper area just south of Ashern in the Interlake Region of Manitoba where a number of immigrants from the same general area in France had taken up residence. It appears that Francois returned to France to bring his sister Marie Anne to Canada, arriving 11 June 1908 aboard the Corinthian. Marie Anne married French immigrant Herve Kerbrat and settled in the Camper area to farm.
With the outbreak of the war, as a French Reservist Francois returned to France to serve with the French Army. Details of his service as translated from his record:
Soldat de Deuxième Classe (Private)
Incorporated on 12 December 1914 with the 147th Infantry Regiment
Passed to the 348th Infantry Regiment on 22 June 1916
Wounded at Verdun on 23 June 1916 by toxic gas
Disappeared on 24 September 1917
Prisoner at Dorberitz, coming from Dornstadt (Germany)
Repatriated (Nantes) on 18 January 1919
Demobilized on 1st April 1919 (19th Infantry Regiment)
Victory Medal – Commemorative Medal
Francois returned to Canada aboard the La Touraine in April of 1919, arriving in New York on the 25th. Although his occupation was given as stone cutter on the passenger list, he was travelling with a number of French soldiers that were returning to Canada.
The 1921 census found Francois living with his sister Marie Anne Kerbrat near Camper in Manitoba. Along with friend and neighbour Yves Bernicot who was farming near Camper and was also from Finistère, Francois moved to the Kenora, Ontario area in 1924 where the two men found work at the Indian Residential School. According to a later newspaper article the men had come to the area to make some money to buy equipment for their farms back in Manitoba. On 5 November 1924, in Kenora, Yves married Agnes Parenteau, best man at the wedding was Francois. The next year, on 12 February 1925, for reasons unknown Francois shot Yves in the jaw, shot and killed the assistant superintendent at the school, and then turned the gun on himself. Surviving the wounding, Yves was admitted to St Joseph Hospital in Kenora and later moved to Sioux Lookout, Ontario where he and Agnes raised their three sons.
Although Francois’ death record indicated that he was to be interred in the ‘Roman Catholic Cemetery’, there is no record for him at the only cemetery in Kenora, the Lake of the Woods Cemetery that has a Roman Catholic section. He is likely interred in the overgrown cemetery at St Mary’s Indian Residential School that closed its doors in 1972.
By Judy Stockham
Research and records from France including Francois’ service record: courtesy of Joël Flottat
Photo of St Mary’s Indian Residential School: Lake of the Woods Museum Archives