Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 6, 1882
Place of BirthLiverpool, Lancashire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinEthel Welsby (wife), Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingClerk
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
BattalionDistrict No. 10
ForcePermanent Force
BranchCanadian Army Pay Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 30, 1951
Age at Death69
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Welsby, George Henry

Major George Henry Welsby served in the Permanent Active Militia for several years before the war started. During the war he was Paymaster for District No. 10, a position he held until February 1918.

George was born on 6 October 1882 in Liverpool, England and baptized three months later at St. Paul Church in Princes Park, Liverpool. His father, John Welsby, was from Cheshire and his mother, May Parr, was born in Liverpool. John was a joiner by trade and he and May were married in 1878. They had seven children between 1878 and 1894, all born in Liverpool: Elizabeth May, Robert John, George Henry, Margaret Primrose, Lillian Victoria, William Grimshaw and Laura. Robert died at age one and Laura as an infant. When the 1901 census was taken George was 18 years old, living at home in Liverpool and working as a railway clerk.

George immigrated to Canada in 1907. He spent some time in Ottawa and joined the Permanent Active Militia, becoming a Company Quarter-Master Sergeant in the Canadian Army Pay Corps. In 1911 he attended the Provisional School of Infantry in Ottawa and qualified for the rank of Sergeant. He was married in Hamilton, Ontario on 25 October 1913. His residence at the time was Toronto and he listed his occupation as ‘Canadian Army Pay Corps.’ His wife, Ethel Eleanor Wagstaff, was born in 1888 in Lambeth, London, England, the daughter of John Wagstaff and Bessie Pullman. Ethel had immigrated to Canada in 1910, living in Ottawa at first and then Toronto.

George and his wife moved to Winnipeg and they had one child, Lilian Evelyn Margaret, born in September 1914. Sadly Lilian died the following year, at age 15 months, and she’s buried in Elmwood Cemetery. The war had started in August 1914 and George continued to serve with the Canadian Army Pay Corps, becoming Assistant Paymaster then Paymaster for Military District No. 10 (Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario and the Northwest Territories). He was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain in November 1915 and Major in December 1917. In February 1918 George was charged with misappropriating army funds. He had left the city and headed to northwestern Ontario. He was arrested east of Fort Frances, apparently on his way to the U.S. with the help of two accomplices.

At his trial in March George was found guilty and sentenced to 23 months in the provincial jail. His wife was very ill at the time, recovering from a serious operation. In November 1918 she travelled to Brooklyn, New York to stay with an aunt. She passed away in New York on 16 April 1921 and she’s buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. George was out of jail by then and living in the Rainy Lake area where he worked as an accountant at a sawmill. His housekeeper, Collette Van Moerkerke, was a widow who was born in Belgium. On 20 October 1924 George married Collette’s daughter, Madeleine Jeanne Smits, in Winnipeg. Madeleine and her first husband, Jacques Smits, were both from Belgium and they had two children, Andre (born in 1915) and his younger sister Jeanne.

Madeleine and George had one more daughter, Georgette Lorraine. They lived in the Rainy Lake area at first and in the early 1930s they moved to Kenora. George worked as a salesman and he was very active in the community. He served as secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trade and honorary president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce as well as being involved in other business organizations.

George passed away in Kenora on 30 October 1951, at age 69. He was survived by his wife Madeleine and their children, Andre, Jeanne (Mrs. Wilfred Oullette) and Georgette (Mrs. Lothar Bode). George is buried in an unmarked grave in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Becky Johnson

Welsby-George-Henry-90 Welsby-George-Henry-91 Welsby-George-Henry-92 Welsby-George-Henry-93

« Back To Soldier Biographies