Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 8, 1894
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSophia Torrance, mother, 70 Victoria Street, Transcona, Manitoba
Trade / CallingPhysician
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo 12 Canadian General Hospital
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment70 Victoria Street, Transcona, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJune 2, 1917
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 30, 1943
Age at Death49
Buried AtBinscarth Cemetery, Binscarth, Manitoba

Torrance, Charles William

Charles William Torrance was born on 8 July 1894 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario.  His parents William Torrance and Sophia Johnston were both from the Ottawa area, William from Ashton and Sophia from Gloucester. At the time of their marriage in 1879 in Ottawa William was working as a carpenter. Children born in Ottawa were Charles’ older brothers Robert and Victor. At some point after Victor’s birth in 1885 the family moved to Rat Portage where William found work as a sawmill filer. A daughter Jenny was born in 1895. By the 1901 Canada census both Robert and Victor were working as labourers in a local sawmill along with their father. William later became involved in the hotel industry, owner of the Lake of the Woods Hotel as listed on the 1911 census. The family later relocated to Transcona, Manitoba. By the 1916 census Charles was working at the Riverside Hospital in Winnipeg South as a doctor.  A Kenora Miner and News article in January of 1917 spoke of his graduation from the Manitoba Medical College, achieving 1st Class Honours and awarded the Dean’s Microscope for having the highest standing in the five years.

Charles signed his Officers Paper in Winnipeg on 2 June 1917, occupation given as physician and his next of kin as his mother in Transcona. He was listed as a Lieutenant with the Army Medical Corps Training Depot No 10. At the time he had been working as an assistant at the Ninette Sanatorium in the RM of Strathcona, with a local newspaper report later telling of his safe arrival in England.

Once in England, by August Charles was attached to the Bramshott Military Hospital, redesignated at the No 12 Canadian General Hospital that September. That November he was appointed Temporary Captain. After briefly being posted to the 23rd Reserve Battalion, in late May of 1918 Charles was transferred to the Canadian Specialty Hospital in Lenham. In mid November he arrived in France to work at the No 3 Canadian General Hospital. A short time late Charles was admitted to the No 8 Red Cross Hospital in Boulogne, seriously ill with bronchitis. He was returned to England to the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, discharged in mid December and posted to Lenham. In March of 1919 Charles was admitted to the Military Hospital at Shorncliffe, seriously ill with influenza. Upon discharge in May he was posted to the No 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington. With the end of the war,  Charles returned to Canada aboard the Transport Regina as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press on 26 July 1919 and was discharged from service on 1 August, rank of Captain. He is commemorated for his service on the University of Manitoba Roll of Service.

On 14 November 1919, in Toronto, Charles married Ruth Marie Craig. Born in 1892 in Brightside, Lanark, Ontario, Ruth was the daughter of farmers Andrew and Jane (née Barr) Craig. According to her entry on CGWP, Ruth, a graduate from the Western Hospital of Toronto, went to France in May of 1916 with the French Flag Nursing Corps, her record giving previous service with the Française Militaire when she signed her Officers’ Declaration paper with the Canadian Army Medical Corps in London on 1 October 1917.

After their marriage Charles and Ruth lived in Brandon, Manitoba for a short time and then Charles established a practice in Saltcoats, Saskatchewan. They eventually were to make Binscarth, Manitoba their home, moving there in the early 1930’s. According to the ‘Binscarth Memories‘, published in 1984, ‘Charles became well known and liked as a professional man and many of the young people of this area owe their safe arrival into the world, to his ability. Ruth took an active part in the church and community work.’

Predeceased by his father in 1922, his mother in 1933, and his brother Victor in 1937, all in Transcona/Winnipeg, Charles died on 30 October 1943 in Russell, Manitoba of lobar pneumonia, death deemed due to service during the war. Ruth continue to live in Binscarth for a couple of years and then moved to Brandon, Manitoba where she died in 1981. Charles and Ruth are interred in the Binscarth Cemetery.

Charles’ brother a href=”” target=”_blank”>Victor enlisted in Kenora in 1915 and went overseas with the 94th Battalion. Transferred to the 43rd Battalion, he was dangerously wounded in 1917, suffering a gunshot wound to the chest. Found medically unfit, he was returned to Canada in March of 1918. Victor’s death was also listed as due to his WW1 service.

by Judy Stockham

Torrance-Charles-William-8 Torrance-Charles-2 Torrance-Charles-3 Torrance-Charles-4 Torrance-Charles-5 Torrance-Charles-William-10 Torrance-Charles-William-7

gravemarker photographs courtesy of Bev Wotton, Binscarth
newspaper articles from Kenora Miner and News, Ninette Eye-Witness, Winnipeg Free Press, and Brandon Sun

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