|Date of Birth||October 14, 1882|
|Place of Birth||Eastman, Quebec|
|Next of Kin||May Desantils, wife, 305 Bradford Street, St James (Winnipeg), Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Chef|
|Battalion||3rd Canadian Divisional Employment Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Employment Companies|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||305 Bradford Street, St James (Winnipeg), Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||January 24, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||33|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 30, 1955|
|Age at Death||73|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
According to his attestation papers, George Desantils was born on 14 October 1882 in Eastman, Quebec. Neither a birth record or family could be confirmed for him although his service record indicated that he was the son of Peter (deceased) and Mary Desantils. By 1906 George was living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, marrying on 12 November in nearby Truro. His bride May Mahala Cream was likely born around 1884-1885 in Newfoundland although some later accounts suggested she was born in 1890 in Nova Scotia. She was the daughter of William Cream, a cabinet maker, and Edith (Ada) Gifford, both born in Newfoundland. The couple had married on 3 February 1883 in St John’s in Newfoundland but were living in Truro by the time of the 1891 census, May listed as age 6 and born in Newfoundland on the census. By the time of the 1911 census George, May and daughter Gladys May were living in Halifax, Gladys born in 1910. At the time of the census George was working as a chef in a dining car. The family moved to Spokane, Washington for a brief period, giving birth to daughter Bertha Regina in 1914. By the time he enlisted in January of 1916, George, May, and the two girls were living on Bradford Street in the St James area of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
That November George was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, arriving at the unit for duty on 23 December. In mid August of 1917, he was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Divisional Employment Company, Headquarters Sub Staff, likely as a cook. ‘The employment companies came under the direct command of Canadian Corps or Divisional Headquarters. Personnel were lent to other units (e.g. mobile veterinary, town majors, divisional trains and ammunition columns) for short periods or were employed at headquarters. Company personnel performed a wide variety of duties (traffic control, salvage operations, water police, road building), formed burial and salvage parties, worked in sanitary sections, divisional baths, Church Army and YMCA huts, ammunition dumps and were employed at headquarters as orderlies, batmen, grooms, clerks, cooks, waiters, guards and picquets.’ (Library and Archives Canada)
In early September of 1917 George was granted a ten day leave, returning on the 15th. In mid October of 1918 he proceeded to the month long 5th Course for Officers Mess Cooks at the 1st Army School of Cookery, returning to Headquarters on 6 November. With the end of the war he returned to England in mid February 1919, and embarked for Canada aboard the Olympic on 17 March. George was discharged from service on 31 March in Winnipeg, rank of Private.
George and May continued to make Winnipeg their home where George worked as a chef. Another child was born to the family, daughter Virginia Georgina (known as Verna to family and friends) in November of 1923. Likely in the mid to late 1930’s, George became caretaker for the Duport Mines on Cameron Island on Shoal Lake, Lake of the Woods. Sadly George drowned on 30 July 1955, his boat found overturned about a mile from his cabin. His body was eventually found in late August by a fishing guide in the area. A few months after his death May moved to Port Arthur, Ontario where her daughter Verna O’Hara was living. May died on 5 February 1956 in Port Arthur. At the time she was survived by her daughters Gladys (George) Heuchert in Winnipeg, Bertha (Frank) Ryan in Pine Falls, Manitoba, and Verna and her husband Jack in Port Arthur. She was also survived by eight grandchildren. George and May are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
By Judy Stockham