Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 29, 1898
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinThomas Winters (father), Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingPacker in flour mill
Service Details
Regimental Number820744
Service RecordLink to Service Record
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Postal Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMay 22, 1916
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 23, 1951
Age at Death52
Buried AtRiverside Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
PlotSec 8, Plot 7

Winters, Earl Hersel

Private Earl Hersel Winters joined the 141st Battalion in May 1916 and went overseas in April 1917. He served in England and France for almost two years and returned home with a war bride.

Earl was the only son of William Thomas Winter/Winters and Alice Marian Brydges of Kenora, Ontario. Thomas and Alice were both born in Ontario, Alice in Jarvis, Haldimand County and her husband in Goderich, Huron County. They were married in 1896 in Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. Earl was born in Rat Portage on 29 August 1898. His birth was registered as Earl Hersel but he sometimes used the name Earl Herbert. His sister Frances Beulah was born in 1906. Sadly, there were at least four other children who died young. Thomas worked as a teamster, labourer and millwright at a sawmill and by 1911 the family was living in Keewatin, a neighbouring town to Kenora.

Earl enlisted in Keewatin on 22 May 1916, a few months before his 18th birthday. He was working as a packer in a local flour mill at the time. He joined the 141st ‘Bull Moose’ Battalion, which had been organized in December and was being recruited in the District of Rainy River. Earl left for Port Arthur on 1 August 1916 with the other local volunteers and a huge crowd gathered at the Kenora train station to see them off. The battalion trained in Port Arthur over the winter then headed east on 21 April 1917, embarking from Halifax a week later on the SS Olympic. They arrived in Liverpool on 7 May and Earl was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion the same day.

On 18 June Earl was drafted to the 8th Battalion and sent to France. He spent some time at the Canadian Base Depot then with an entrenching battalion. Before he was able to join his new unit in the field he became ill, suffering from trench fever or possible phthisis. He was admitted to No. 10 Canadian General Hospital in Rouen on 12 July. A week later he was invalided to the UK and sent to Merryflats War Hospital in Glasgow. After two and a half months there he was moved to the Canadian Convalescent Centre at Bromley. By early December he was well enough to return to duty. He spent a week with the 18th Reserve Battalion before being transferred to the Canadian Army Postal Corps in London. He served there until 29 January 1918.

Earl became ill again at the end of February, while he was with the Canadian Army Service Corps Depot. He was admitted to No. 11 Canadian General Hospital at Moore Barracks on 3 March and diagnosed with influenza. On 12 April he was moved to Woodcote Convalescent Centre and on 1 May he was discharged to duty. He got married a week later, on 9 May, at St. John’s Church in London. His wife, Claire (Clara) Miller, was born in London and she was about two years older than him.

On 22 May Earl was awarded a good conduct badge for two years of service. He was with the Canadian Army Service Corps until September, when he was transferred to the 12th Reserve Battalion. From early December until the end of January 1919 he was attached to the Canadian Army Postal Corps in London again. While he was there Clara moved to Canada, sailing on the SS Metagama in mid-January and going to Port Arthur. Earl followed a month later, embarking from Glasgow on the SS Cassandra on 22 February and arriving at St. John’s on 6 March. He was given two weeks landing leave and discharged on 4 April in Port Arthur.

Earl’s parents had moved to Port Arthur and Earl and his wife settled there too. He had a long career in the insurance business. He was very involved in boys’ hockey and he served as president and secretary of the Minor Hockey Association. He was also an assistant scout master, a member of the Port Arthur Curling and Athletic Club and a member of the local Canadian Legion branch as well as other organizations.

Earl passed away at his summer cottage on 23 July 1951, at age 52. He was survived by his wife, their son Robin and his sister Beulah (Mrs. John Baird Jack) of Pennsylvania. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Port Arthur, now part of the city of Thunder Bay. Earl is commemorated on the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour, the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque and the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country 1914-18 memorial plaque.

By Becky Johnson

Winters-Earl-90 Winters-Earl-91 Winters-Earl-92

Grave marker photo courtesy of Lynda Piilo.

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