|Date of Birth||August 20, 1899|
|Place of Birth||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Ellen Hansen (mother), Keewatin PO, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Clerk|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||34th Fort Garry Horse|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||November 1, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 20, 1919|
|Age at Death||19|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||9E-37-1, History Haven Block, East Section|
Illness and disease caused many casualties in the First World War and some soldiers died even before they left Canada.Trooper John William Hansen of Keewatin, Ontario had three older brothers who served overseas and they all survived the war. John joined the 34th Fort Garry Horse in December 1918 and the following spring, during his training in Winnipeg, he died of influenza and pneumonia.
John was the son of of Nils (Nels) Julius Hansen and his wife Ellen Nilson. Nils and Ellen both immigrated to Canada in the 1880s, Nils from Norway and Ellen from Sweden. They were married in December 1888 in Winnipeg and a short time later they moved to the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. Nils was involved in the construction of the flour mill in Keewatin and he had a long career with the Lake of the Woods Milling Company. By the 1920s he was superintendent of the flour mill’s heating and sprinkler systems. He was also very active in community affairs and he served on the Keewatin town council in 1920 and as Keewatin’s mayor in 1921. His father (Hans) and three brothers (Hans, John and Carl) also lived in the Kenora/Keewatin area.
Nils and Ellen had seven children. Their daughter Cleora, the oldest, was born in 1890 and she was followed by six sons: Hans, Allan, Carl, John, Fred and Clarence. All of the children were born in Keewatin, John in August 1899 and Clarence, the youngest, in May 1906. The war started in August 1914 and over the next three years John’s older brothers all enlisted. Hans joined the 52nd Battalion in Kenora in May 1915, Allan enlisted with the 76th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery in Winnipeg in June 1916, and Carl joined the 76th Battery a year later, in May 1917. They all served overseas.
Conscription started in Canada in the fall of 1917 and single men age 20 to 34 were called up first. In April 1918 lads who were 19 years old were added to the list. John was drafted on 1 November 1918, a couple of months after his 19th birthday and just days before the Armistice. He was working as a clerk at Fife’s hardware store at the time. He was sent to Winnipeg for military training and assigned to the 76th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery but a month later he was transferred to the 34th Fort Garry Horse. John became ill during his training and he was admitted to the Manitoba Military Hospital on 13 March 1919. He passed away a week later, on the morning of 20 March, suffering from influenza and pneumonia. His parents had his body returned home and his funeral was held in Keewatin on 22 March.
John is buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. He is commemorated on the First World War Roll of Honour for the Fort Garry Horse and on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque in Keewatin, Ontario. The plaque honours staff and citizens who served in the Great War. At a ceremony in Keewatin on 4 August 1919 John’s family was presented with a medal in honour of his service. It was inscribed: He fought for freedom and honour. In commemoration of J.W. Hansen who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918. Presented Aug. 4/19.
John’s three older brothers all survived the war and returned home to Canada. His younger brother Fred died of pneumonia on 7 November 1930, at age 28, and his father died of pneumonia and influenza eleven days later, on 18 November. His mother passed away in March 1932. His only sister Cleora married Frank William Beatty who was also a veteran of the First World War. She died in 1936 and is buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery along with her parents and brothers.
By Becky Johnson