Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 24, 1870
Place of BirthLondon
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMary Lorymer (wife), Ross Mount, Ontario
Trade / CallingBaptist Minister
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionLondon Area
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Chaplain Service
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentCamp Hughes, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentFirst Street South, Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJuly 19, 1916
Age at Enlistment46
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 23, 1941
Age at Death71
Buried AtLakefield Cemetery, Lakefield, Ontario

Lorymer, William Tindal

Honourary Captain William Tindal Lorymer was the Baptist minister in Kenora, Ontario when he enlisted in July 1916. He served overseas with the Canadian Chaplain Service for three years, returning to Canada in September 1919.

William was born in London, England to John Charles Lorymer and Emma Phoebe Feast. John and Emma were married in Marylebone, London in 1869 and William was the oldest of their five sons, all born in London: William Tindal Frederick (24 July 1870), Charles Faithfull (1872), Alfred Herbert (1874), John Pilgrom (1876) and Edward Alexander (1880). Sadly, the three youngest boys all died before age two. Their father John was listed in various records as a stationer’s clerk, merchant’s clerk, commercial traveller, commercial clerk and accountant. His wife Emma passed away in 1887 when William and Charles were in their teens.

At the time of the 1891 census both boys were working as clerks and living with their father in Tottenham, north London. A cousin Mary Downey, age 34, was also listed in the household. The following year William immigrated to Canada where he attended McMaster University in Toronto. McMaster was a Baptist university offering courses in arts and theology and its first degrees were conferred in 1894. After his graduation William studied at Colgate Theological Seminary in Hamilton, New York.

William was ordained in Barrie, Ontario in June 1902 and that summer he became the minister at the Baptist church in Parry Sound. Around the same time his widowed father and brother Charles both emigrated and joined him in Canada. On 21 April 1904 William was married in Smith Township, Peterborough County, Ontario to 33-year-old Mary Ann Nichols, the daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Nichols. Mary Ann was living in Smith Township where she had a large extended family. William recorded the birth of their first child, son William James Tindal, in the December 1904 register of the Baptist Church in Sawyerville, Quebec. He’d been the minister there since the previous year. He and his wife left Quebec in 1905 and lived in Ottawa then in Winchester Village, Ontario, where their daughter Mary Agnes was born in 1907. At the time of the 1911 census the family was in Dauphin, Manitoba and the following year they moved to Kenora, where they lived for about four years.

The War

Canadian chaplains or ‘padres’ had first accompanied soldiers into battle, in small numbers, during the North-West Rebellion (1885) and the South African War (1899-1902). When the First World War started hundreds of clergymen from all denominations volunteered to serve with the troops, both at home and overseas, and by the end of the war over 500 had enlisted. In August 1915 the Canadian Chaplain Service was organized as a distinct branch in the Canadian forces and chaplains were commissioned as honourary officers when they signed up.

William was one of the volunteers and in July 1916 he was accepted as a chaplain for the 183rd Battalion (Manitoba Beavers). He signed his Officer’s Declaration on 19 July at Camp Hughes, Manitoba, getting a commission as Honourary Captain. When he left for Camp Hughes his congregation in Kenora held a farewell gathering and presented him with going away gifts. The 183rd Battalion passed through Kenora by train on 27 September, heading to the east coast, and they embarked from Halifax on 4 October 1916 on the SS Saxonia. William’s wife and children had gone to Ross Mount, near Cobourg, Ontario, where they most likely stayed with friends or relatives while he was overseas.

William spent the next three years in England: two months with a training depot, eight months at a convalescent hospital and the rest of the time with Chaplain Services in London. The padres held church services and Bible studies; officiated at funerals; organized sports, musical concerts and other recreational activities; operated canteens; ministered personally to the troops; visited soldiers in hospitals and prisons; sent letters of condolence to relatives of those who died; and wrote letters for illiterate or wounded soldiers. In London a small group of chaplains was organized to meet Canadian soldiers arriving on leave and generally look out for them while they were there. The Canadian Chaplain Service also organized courses and lectures for the troops, which led to the founding of Khaki University in 1917. In July 1918 William went to France on Special Duty for ten days. Back in England his busiest time was probably the months after the Armistice when thousands of boisterous soldiers were returning from the front, anxious to get back to Canada and with too much time on their hands. In July 1919 he officiated at the funeral in London of a veteran from Kenora, Private Charles Rowbottom. William remained in England until the fall of 1919, when most of the Canadian troops had been sent home.


On 14 September 1919, ten months after the Armistice, William returned to Canada on the SS Minnekahda, his destination listed as Ross Mount, Ontario where his wife was staying. By 1921, at age 51, he’d taken up farming and they were living near the village of Paris in Brant Township, Brant County, Ontario. His father died in June that year and he was buried in Paris Cemetery. In 1934, when a federal voters list was compiled, William and his son were listed as farmers and his daughter Mary was living at home.

William passed away on 23 December 1941, at age 71. His funeral was held at Paris Baptist Church on the morning of 26 December. From there his body was taken to Lakefield and a service was held that afternoon at the home of his nephew Wilford Nichols. William is buried in Lakefield Cemetery in Peterborough County. His wife died in 1950 and she is also interred there along with their son William James (1904-1951), their daughter Mary Agnes (1907-1982) and William’s brother Charles Faithfull Lorymer.

William is commemorated on McMaster University’s First World War Roll of Honour, which was published during the war in their monthly journal. In 1920 he was, ‘Brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services rendered in connection with the War.’

By Becky Johnson

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