Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 23, 1896
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn S. Johnson (father), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingGrocery Clerk
Service Details
Regimental Number3138113
Battalion160th Infantry Battalion, Machine Gun Company
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
Branch40th Infantry Division
Address at EnlistmentAmerican Falls, Idaho
Date of Enlistment1918
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 18, 1970
Age at Death73
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Johnson, Harold John

Private Harold John Johnson was a lifelong resident of Kenora, Ontario except for a period of five years around the time of the First World War. He served with the American Expeditionary Forces in the U.S. and in France.

Harold’s mother, Erika Karolina Engström, was born in Overlulea, Norrbotten, Sweden. She immigrated to Canada in July 1890 and settled in the town of Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora). Her brother August Erik Engström arrived from Sweden three years later. He lived in Rat Portage at first then moved to the U.S. in 1901, making his home in American Falls, Idaho. Harold’s father, John S. Johnson, was born in Sweden (possibly in Göteborg) in 1866 and came to Canada around 1890. John and Erika were married in Rat Portage on 14 May 1895.

Harold, their oldest child, was born on 23 May 1896. He was followed by daughters Etta Christina (1897), Bertha Johanna (1899) and Tyra (1901) and sons William Victor (1903), Lennart (1909) and Olaf (ca1911). Sadly Tyra died at age two and Bertha at age nine. They are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. John worked as an engineer at Sultana Mine on Lake of the Woods then for many years as an engineer at the waterworks pumping station in Kenora.

In September 1915, when he was 19 years old, Harold moved to American Falls, Idaho where his uncle August lived. The U.S. entered the war in April 1917 and he registered for the draft on 5 June. He gave his address as American Falls, his occupation as grocery clerk and his place of birth as Kenora, Ontario. His service started the following year. In June 1918 he was sent to Camp Kearny in San Diego County, California, where he was assigned to the 160th Infantry Battalion. On 25 July he completed a Petition for Naturalization and the witnesses were two other soldiers in the same unit. He embarked from New York with the 160th Battalion on 8 August 1918 on the SS Cretic. He was in the machine gun company and his regimental number was 3138113. Harold served in France for seven months. He returned home in the spring of 1919, sailling from Bordeaux on 13 March on the Matsonia and arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey about nine days later. On his Canadian Legion application he said he was discharged in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

After the war Harold returned to American Falls and when the 1920 U.S. census was taken he was working as a grocery store salesman. His father passed away in June 1920, after a short illness, and Harold moved back to Kenora around that time. When the next Canadian census was taken in June 1921 he was living at home with his mother, his sister Etta and his brothers William, Lennart and Olaf. He worked for Neale and Heath’s grocery firm for many years and during the 1940s he owned and operated Johnson’s Taxi. He married a local girl, Olga Mary Rapinda, on 27 January 1945. Olga was born in Kenora in 1909, the daughter of Stephen and Paulina Rapinda.

Around 1947 Harold began a career as a clerk with the Department of Highways and he was with them for almost twenty years, retiring in 1966. He was a member of the Bethesda Lutheran Church, the Canadian Legion, Kenora branch, and Oddfellows Lodge. His wife belonged to the Notre Dame Catholic Church, the Catholic Women’s League and the Ladies Curling Club. They both enjoyed flowers and gardening.

Harold passed away in the Kenora hospital after a lengthy illness on 18 February 1970, at age 73. Olga died in August 1997, at age 88. They are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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