Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 23, 1889
Place of BirthPortland, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAnnie Laurie Dowsett (mother), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingTransportation Clerk/Lumberman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number150884
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Army Service Corps Depot
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Service Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 21, 1915
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19290415
Age at Death39
Buried AtUnion Cemetery, Windsor, Quebec

Dowsett, Charles Phillip

Private Charles Phillip Barton Dowsett enlisted in September 1915 and served for one year in Canada and three years overseas. He returned home in December 1919 with a war bride.

Charles was the only son of Russell Eli Dowsett and Annie Laura Heath of Kenora, Ontario. Russell and Annie were both born in Leeds County, Ontario and they were married there in September 1882. They settled in the town of Portland, about 50 km northeast of Kingston, where Russell worked as a carpenter and carriage builder. Charles was born in Portland on 23 June 1889 and he had two older sisters, Ida Laura (1884) and Effie Edna (1887). Around 1891 his family moved to Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario, and two more daughters were born there, Annie Victoria Kathleen (1897) and Olive (1901). Charles’ father became involved in several successful ventures in the Rat Portage/Kenora area. He went into business as a contractor and was one of the founders and owners of the Western Algoma Brick Company. He also had a line of steamboats operating on Winnipeg River, used at first to haul supplies then later for the tourist industry. He was active in community affairs and served on the town council for several years.

The war started in August 1914 and Charles enlisted a year later, signing up in Kenora on 21 September 1915. He was 26 at the time and working as a transportation clerk and lumberman. Along with several other local lads he joined the 79th Battalion, which was based in Brandon, Manitoba. That fall the Kenora recruits were sent to Camp Sewell, just east of Brandon, to train with the rest of their unit. In March 1916 Charles visited his family in Kenora and when he returned to Manitoba he began an officers’ training course. The 79th Battalion headed overseas in April but Charles was kept in Winnipeg and transferred to the 183rd Battalion so he could continue his training. He was sent to the UK six months later, embarking from Halifax with the 183rd on 4 October 1916. In England the battalion was broken up and the recruits were transferred to several different units. Charles was Acting Sergeant by then and he was one of about 200 officers and men transferred to the 100th Battalion. In January 1917 the 11th Reserve Battalion absorbed the 100th Battalion and the unit was disbanded.

Charles had impaired vision in one eye, caused by a childhood injury, which meant he wasn’t medically fit for front line service. In February he was transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps and in May he reverted to the rank of private by his own request. The following month he arrived in France where he was taken on strength with the 6th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops. Railroads were essential for moving men, equipment and supplies and the railway troops were responsible for their construction and maintenance. When Charles joined his battalion in June 1917 they were based southwest of Cambrai in France. The unit was made up of four companies with a total of 600 to 700 men. Work listed in the war diary included grading, laying ballast and track, unloading and shipping materials, repairs and maintenance, and carrying out night patrols. In August they suffered five casualties, including one man killed, when a German airplane dropped a bomb in the area. That fall two of the companies were sent to Belgium while the other two stayed in France, working with the British Second and Third Armies.

In early December Charles became ill with a stomach inflammation. He was evacuated to a hospital in Le Havre and from there to England, where he spent the rest of the war. He was released from the convalescent centre in Epsom in February 1918 and transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps Depot. The following month he was posted to the CASC in London and in July he was in the hospital again, this time suffering from influenza. When he recovered he contined to serve with the CASC. On 21 June 1919 he married Amy Hilda Langman at St. Andrew’s Church in Chelsea, London. Amy was 23 years old and she was born and raised in Windsor, Berkshire where her father worked for the police force. Charles and Amy left England on 3 December 1919 on the SS Carmania, arriving in Halifax ten days later. Charles was discharged there on 18 December. His father had been ill for a few months and sadly he passed away on 7 December, just a short time before his son returned home.

After the war Charles and Amy settled in Kenora and they had two children, Russell in July 1920 and John Allen in July 1922. Around 1925 they moved to Windsor Mills, Quebec where Charles worked as a machinist. He passed away in Windsor Mills on 15 April 1929, at age 39. His wife raised their boys in Toronto and she died there in 1975. Their youngest son John had a long career in the military, enlisting with the Royal Canadian Regiment at age 16 and serving in France, Holland and Germany during the Second World War. He later took part in peacekeeping missions in Vietnam and Cypress and he was a Lieutenant-Colonel when he retired.

Charles is buried in Union Cemetery in Windsor Mills, Quebec and remembered on the Dowsett family gravemarker in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Becky Johnson

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Photos courtesy of Dowsett family tree on

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