Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 11, 1893
Place of BirthMalung, Dalarna
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs LM Blomquist, mother, Roseau, Minnesota
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer
Service Details
Regimental Number2174327
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
Branch33rd Regiment
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 12, 1918
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 20, 1961
Age at Death68
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Olson, John Peter

Per Johan Olsson was born on 11 January 1893 in Malung, Dalarna, Sweden. Once in Canada his name was anglicized to John Peter (Jack) Olson. Jack’s parents were Olla Johan Olsson and Karin Persdotter who had married on 30 December 1884 in Malung. He had three older brothers, Emil (1885), Karl (1887) and Lars (Louis) (1890), and two younger siblings, Karin Olivia (1894) and Olaf Albin (1896). Sadly Jack’s father died in June of 1896, a month and a half before the birth of Albin, with Albin to be raised by another family in Sweden.

Karin and children Karl, Louis, Jack, and Karin Jr left the parish of Malung on 14 March 1903, on their way to Winnipeg according to the parish books. They departed from Göteborg aboard the Romeo on 10 April. However the family ended up settling in northern Minnesota in the Malung/Falun area in the county of Roseau, both communities named after towns back in Sweden. Emil joined the family later that year. By the time of the 1910 census Karin had married farmer Lars Mattson Blomquist. Born in Malung, Sweden in 1847, Lars had immigrated in 1889.

According to his obituary, by 1912 John was living in La Riviere, Manitoba, a community just north of the US/Canada border about 3 hours from Malung. He had joined the Canadian Pacific Railway as a wiper that year, relocating to Kenora, Ontario in 1915 after a transfer to Fort William as a fireman for the railway in 1913.

John signed his WW1 Draft Registration card on 12 January 1918 in Kenora. His occupation was given as locomotive fireman, employed in Kenora. As a Private with F Company of the 33rd Regiment Engineers, John embarked for overseas from Hoboken, New Jersey aboard the Calamares on 30 June 1918. His mother Mrs LM Blomquist in Roseau was given as next of kin on the passenger list. Promoted to Corporal, John returned to the States aboard the Nansemon, embarking from Brest, France on 20 May 1919. However, taken ill with influenza, he was transferred to the US Debarkation Hospital at Camp Stewart in Newport News, Virginia on 1 June. Further details of John’s service and discharge are unknown. In later years he was a member of the American and Canadian Legions.

After the war John was found on the 1920 census for Falun, Roseau, Minnesota, living with his mother Karin and stepfather Lars. His occupation was given as railroad fireman. However Jack returned to Kenora, promoted to engineer in June of 1930 and retiring from the railroad on 1 February 1958. Later in life he married Nora (Nonie) Houghton, daughter of George Wilfred (Fred) Houghton and Ada Loutitt who had married in Kenora in 1912. Fred served with the Naval Service in Canada during the war, surviving the Halifax Harbour explosion of 6 December 1917 while onboard the Niobe.

John died on 20 February 1961 in the Kenora General Hospital. He was predeceased by his brother Karl in 1923 and his mother Karin in 1939, both interred in the Malung Cemetery in Minnesota. His brothers Emil died in 1964 and Louis in 1970, both in the county of Roseau, while his sister Karin Sheffield died in 1979 in San Diego. Jack’s wife Nonie died on 7 July 1998 in the Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora, and is interred with Jack in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

By Judy Stockham

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