Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 9, 1894
Place of BirthOttawa, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFather: W. J. Craig, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingPoliceman
Service Details
Regimental Number2293532
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionLord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Cavalry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentReg'l Depot, L.S.H.(Lord Strathcona Horse), Camp St. Charles, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 1, 1917
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 9, 1954
Age at Death60
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Craig, William George

William George Craig was born on 09 May 1894 in Ottawa, Ontario.  His parents were William John Craig and Charlotte Jane Cowan.  His brother, Gordon Maxwell Craig,   was born in 1897 in Ottawa and shortly after, the family moved to Keewatin, Ontario.  Father, William John was an accountant who became the Town Clerk for Keewatin.  Three sisters – Mildred, Elnora and Shirley were born in Keewatin.

William George joined the North West Mounted Police on 28 September 1914.  He was a constable, his service number was #6312 and he served for two years eight months at Dawson, Yukon before transferring over to the Canadian Expeditionary Force for overseas duty. He registered  at Fort St. Charles, Manitoba on September 1, 1917. William embarked for England on February 2, 1918, landing on the 16th. At Shorncliffe training station, a note stated that he ‘reverts to rank of Private.’ He was taken on strength to the ‘B’ squadron of the Lord Strathcona Horse on February 19, 1918.

That spring, the LSH was involved with the Battle of Moreuil Wood. It is famous for having been the last great cavalry charge of the war on March 31, 1918.  In early April, they were involved with the battles near Hourges Wood and Rifle Wood.  The LSH were called upon, along with the Fort Garry Horse to charge into wooded areas, disrupting the line of the enemy soldiers, often at great cost to themselves and their steeds. May and June saw the troops being moved around in France, until on July 4th, they were involved with the attack on Bois De Vave, Bois de Hamel, and Hamel.  In August they participated in the Battle of Amiens in the Beaucourt area. The battle diary notes that at the end of that battle, they had 10 killed or missing, 7 wounded, 1 died of wounds, and 122 horses dead or missing, with 10 wounded. They took heavy losses indeed.

During the Fall the squadron moved to Rougefay, to get shelter for the horses, according to the war diaries. The men and horses engaged in training and exercises during this time.  On the 30th of September, near Caulaincourt, the diary reports: ‘Enemy long range guns shelled lines during the early morning. Last shell 6 p.m. killed horses of Lt. R. Richmonds.’ As the weather grew colder, ‘leather jerkins’ were issued to the men. William was ill and in various hospitals from July 1918 until November. After the Armistice was signed, he was moved to Etaples for recovery from bronchitis, and rejoined his unit on December 13th. The war was over, but the waiting began. Finally he was shipped home in the spring of 1919, arriving in Winnipeg on April 10. Upon discharge due to demobilization William returned to Keewatin.

On September 19, 1923, at age, 29, he married Esther Isabel Fraser (b. 1896) in Kenora. At the time he was working as a clerk. Esther, age 26, was the daughter of James Fraser, who was born in Campbelltown , New Brunswick, and of Elizabeth Black. The witnesses to their marriage were A. B. Johnston, and M. Craig, both of Keewatin. They had two children: Barbara (m. Rogers), and William James (1933-2012). William George worked at the Lake of the Woods Milling Company in Keewatin for 33 years.  He was a member of the Keewatin United Church and in the early days was well known in musical circles.

William’s  son William James went on to have a great career in music. This is from his obituary in the ‘Globe and Mail’: ‘Born in Keewatin in 1933, his work as a professional musician took him to Toronto to the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, Banff School of Fine Arts, Calgary Opera and to London, U.K. at Sadler’s Wells Opera Theatre and the English National Opera Co. In 1971, he joined the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto where he served as Musical Director of the Opera Department until retirement in 1996. Returning to Keewatin, he and wife Constance settled in the home in which he had been born.’ His piano was donated to St. Andrew’s United Church in Keewatin.

William George Craig died on 09 December 1954 in hospital in Kenora and is buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

by Penny Beal

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