Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 27, 1893
Place of BirthStirling, Stirlingshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMartin Girvan/Garvin (father), Stirling, Scotland
Service Details
Regimental Number2539
BattalionArgyll and Sutherland Highlanders
ForceBritish Army
BranchBritish Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentStirling, Scotland
Address at EnlistmentStirling, Scotland
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 14, 1914
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 26, 1964
Age at Death71
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Girvan, Thomas

Private Thomas Girvan (Garvin) was born on 27 February 1893 in Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland. His parents were Martin Garvin, a textile mill worker, and Margaret (Maggie) Brown. Thomas had a younger brother Hugh and a younger sister Isabella. Isabella was born on 29 August 1897 and their mother died of scarlet fever two weeks later. When the 1901 census was taken the two boys were living in a large orphanage near the town of Lanark in Lanarkshire and their father was working as a marine fireman on a ship.

Britain declared war in August 1914 and Thomas enlisted in September. He signed up with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 1/7th Battalion, which was organized in Stirling, and he went to France with his unit in December 1914. Thomas served for four and a half years, getting his discharge in March 1919. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1914-15 Star. After the war he returned to Scotland and worked as a steam engineer on construction for several years.

Thomas immigrated to Canada in 1928, sailing from Greenock, Scotland on 18 August on the SS Andania and arriving in Quebec a week later. His passage was paid by the government as part of an immigration plan and his destination was the Land Settlement Board in Winnipeg. He said he intended to work as a harvester in Canada and next of kin was his father Martin Girvan at 19 Cowan Street, Stirling, Scotland. Thomas found work in construction at first, mainly building roads, and around 1934 he started working in northwestern Ontario as a forest ranger.

Thomas enlisted again during the Second World War. He signed up in Kenora, Ontario on 16 October 1941, joining No. 10 District Depot. He was living in the neighbouring town of Keewatin at the time, working as a forest ranger, and he was 48 years old. He served with the Veterans Guard of Canada, first in British Columbia then for about a year in the Bahamas. In September 1943 he returned to Canada and was posted to an Ordnance Depot Company in Calgary. He was ill over the winter and spring and he was discharged for medical reasons in August 1944. He was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp and the 1939-45 War Medal.

After his discharge Thomas returned to Keewatin and the following summer he was working as a forest ranger again. In the 1950s his job took him to Malachi, northwest of Kenora for awhile. By the time he retired in 1958 he was back in Keewatin, where he was a life member of the local branch of the Canadian Legion. Thomas passed away in Deer Lodge Veterans Hospital in Winnipeg on 26 May 1964, at age 71. His funeral was held in Kenora two days later and he’s buried in Teardrop Block at Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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