Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 17, 1898
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Ole Heldahl (mother), Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingTailor
Service Details
Regimental Number6743
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionLord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
ForceNon-Permanent Active Militia
BranchCanadian Cavalry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentMay 28, 1917
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 5, 1918
Age at Death19
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotHistory Haven Block, 13 East, Lot 36, Grave 2

Heldahl, Edwin Ole

Illness and disease caused many casualties in the First World War and some soldiers died even before they went overseas. Private Edwin Heldahl enlisted with Lord Strathcona’s Horse in May 1917 and he died one year later while still training in Canada.

Edwin was the oldest son of Ole Olsen Heldahl and Johana/Johanne Christina Pederson of Keewatin, Ontario. Ole and Johana were originally from Bergen, a town on the southwest coast of Norway, and they had both immigrated to Canada in the early 1880s. Their three sons were all born in Keewatin: Edwin (17 September 1898), Burney or Bernie (1902) and Olaf (1907). At the time of the 1901 census Ole was working in a factory and in 1911 he was a labourer at a local flour mill.

Edwin signed up with Lord Strathcona’s Horse, a cavalry unit, on 28 May 1917 in Winnipeg. He was 18 years old at the time, working as a tailor, 5′ 6-1/2″ tall and 140 lb. with fair hair and blue eyes. He enlisted for a period of three years or until his services were no longer needed. He was assigned to Lord Strathcona’s Horse Depot Battalion in Military District 10 (Manitoba). He volunteered to go overseas but during his training in Winnipeg he became ill with tuberculosis and he was admitted to the Manitoba Sanatorium in Ninette: Sanatorium

Edwin died in the Sanatorium on 5 May 1918 at the age of 19. His body was returned home and a funeral was held at his parents’ home on 8 May. He’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora and his name is on a list of patients who died at the Sanatorium in Ninette but are buried somewhere else (see bottom of page here).

Edwin is commemorated on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, a Roll of Honour for staff and citizens of Keewatin who served in the Great War. At a ceremony on 4 August 1919 his family was presented with a medal and badge in honour of his war service. It was inscribed: He fought for freedom and honour. In commemoration of E.O. Heldahl who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918. Presented Aug. 4/19.

Three years after Edwin’s death his brother Burney passed away, also suffering from tuberculosis. He died at St. Roche Hospital in Winnipeg on 13 March 1921, at age 18. St. Roche was attached to St. Boniface Hospital and was a centre for treating infectious diseases. Burney was buried beside his brother Edwin in Lake of the Woods Cemetery and his name was added to Edwin’s military grave marker. The following year, in January 1922, their mother passed away in Winnipeg. Her husband Ole lived in the Kenora area until his own death in 1932 and he’s also buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

Heldahl-Edwin-99 Heldahl-Edwin-98 Heldahl-Edwin-97


« Back To Soldier Biographies