Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 31, 1897
Place of BirthBaie Verte, New Brunswick
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJessie Forrest, mother, 712 Martin Avenue, Elmwood, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingMachinist
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number3208438
Battalion5th Canadian General Hospital
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentCalgary, Alberta
Address at Enlistment1206 - 12th Avenue West, Calgary, Alberta
Date of EnlistmentJune 5, 1918
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 27, 1980
Age at Death83

Forrest, Edgar Birdell

As given on his delayed birth registration, Edgar Birdell Forrest was born on 31 March 1897 in Baie Verte, New Brunswick. Signed in 1940 by his mother the former Jessie Sophia Rozander, Walter Richard Forrest, a boilermaker, was given as his father. However at the time of the 1901 census for New Brunswick, Jessie was living with her parents Matthew and Mary Rozander in Westmorland Parish near Moncton, with Edgar Rozander listed as Matthew and Mary’s son. Both born in Nova Scotia, Jessie and Walter later married on 26 May 1902 in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Edgar continued to live with Matthew and Mary, moving to Calgary with them by the 1906 Western Canada census.

Walter and Jessie lived in New Brunswick for awhile, giving birth to daughter Sadie Georgina (Georgie) in 1903 in Sackville. Daughter Alberta (Bertie) was born in 1905 in Nova Scotia, followed by daughter Clare in 1907 in Claresholm, Alberta, daughter Violet Mildmay in 1909 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, son Richard Dean in 1912 in Winnipeg, and daughter Queenie in 1914 in Regina, Saskatchewan. The 1911 census placed the family in Winnipeg, with Edgar now reunited with his mother and assuming the surname of Forrest.

With the onset of conscription in the latter part of the war, Edgar had his medical examination in December of 1917 in Lethbridge, Alberta. At the time he was living in Carmangay, a small community about 45 kilometres east of Claresholm. When he was called up for service in May of 1918, Edgar was living in Calgary and working as a machinist. On attestation he gave his mother Jessie in Winnipeg as next of kin, with his father Walter as overseas, address unknown.

As a Private with the 84th Draft of the 1st Depot Battalion, Alberta Regiment, Edgar arrived in England aboard the HMT Tennyson on 15 August 1918. Upon arrival he was taken on strength with the 21st Reserve Battalion. In early January of 1919 he was transferred to the Canadian Army Medical Corps R&T Depot at Matlock. In late May Edgar was transferred to the 5th Canadian General Hospital that took over Canadian Military Hospital, Kirkdale, Liverpool which had been authorized in May 1917 and was the clearing hospital for wounded soldiers returning to Canada. On 7 August he embarked for Canada aboard the Caronia and was discharged from service on demobilization on 21 August 1919 at Calgary, rank of Private.

At the time of the 1921 census Edgar was living with his mother Jessie and his siblings in Winnipeg, listed as head of the household and working as a machinist for the Canadian Pacific Railway on the census. Although Jessie’s marital status was given as widowed, neither a WW1 service record nor death record was found for Walter.

On 19 June 1924, in Winnipeg, Edgar married Norah Jane Hayden. Born on 4 March 1906 in Dublin, Ireland, Norah was the daughter of Edward Hayden, a blacksmith and bricklayer, and Lillian Gilligan. Her parents had married during the third quarter of 1900 in Dublin South. According to later censuses, her father immigrated to Canada in 1911, with Lillian and the children following in 1912.

Edgar and Norah were to make Winnipeg their home, giving birth to three children, Edward Dean (1925-2016), Vernon Dale (1926-2004), and Lillian June (1933-2010). Edgar apprenticed with the Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works starting back in 1911 and then worked for the city of Winnipeg from 1934 until his retirement in 1962, the last ten years as supervisor of the city incinerator. Spending summers at the Keewatin “cabin in the pines”, after retirement Edgar and Norah moved to Keewatin, a small town a few kilometres west of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. While in Keewatin Edgar joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion as well as the Silver Threads Senior Citizens Club.

Edgar died on 27 May 1980 at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Norah in Keewatin, son Edward (Shirley) of Winnipeg, son Vernon (Charlotte) of Sarnia, Ontario, and daughter Lillian Zimmerman of Keewatin. He was also survived by siblings Georgie Hedrick, Bertie (Jack) Roffey (d 2002, Winnipeg), Clare (Clarence) Lightfoot (d 1989, Winnipeg), Violet (William) Wilton, (d 2003, Ladysmith, BC), Queenie (Tully) Walters (d 2010, Winnipeg), and brother Dick (Lois Elders) of Saint John, New Brunswick (d 2002, Saint John). He was predeceased by his mother Jessie in 1942 in Winnipeg. Edgar’s wife Norah died on 19 October 1984 at their home on Beach Road in Keewatin. Following cremation, disposition of the ashes for Edgar and Norah is unknown.

By Judy Stockham

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