Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 16, 1898
Place of BirthStraffordville, Elgin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinDaniel Anderson, father, 1317 Donald Street, Fort William, Ontario
Trade / CallingMachinist Apprentice
Service Details
Regimental NumberA38300, 198577, 1078825
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion11th Battalion, CE
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentFort William, Ontario
Address at Enlistment1317 Donald Street, Fort William, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMarch 26, 1915
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 29, 1955
Age at Death56
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
PlotBlk 117, R-2, P-37

Anderson, Harley Burton

Harley Burton Anderson was born on 16 September 1898, birth registered in the township of Bayham, Elgin, Ontario. By most accounts he was born in Straffordville within Bayham. His parents Daniel Anderson and Lucinda Almyra Hilts, both from Ontario, had married on 1 January 1896 in nearby Tilsonburg. Harley had three sisters, Elva Pearl (b1896 Malahide, Elgin), Ruby Florence (b1901 Straffordville), and Blanche May (b1903 London, Middlesex). At the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Bayham Township where Daniel was working as a labourer. The 1911 census found the family in London, Ontario with Daniel working as a labourer in a machine shop. Next moving to Fort William, Ontario, Daniel found work as a locomotive engineer.

Harley enlisted with the 52nd Battalion on 26 March 1915 in Fort William. Living at home with his parents and siblings, his occupation was given as machinist apprentice, year of birth as 1897, and his father Daniel in Fort William as next of kin. He was discharged from service as medically unfit on 15 April 1915 in Port Arthur. Harley next enlisted with the 94th Battalion on 27 December 1915 in Fort William. His occupation was given as engine trimmer, year of birth as 1897, and father Daniel as next of kin. He was discharged from service as being underage on 17 April 1916 in Port Arthur. Harley’s third enlistment was with the 5th Pioneer Battalion on 15 November 1916 in Fort William. His occupation was given as mechanic and his mother in Fort William as next of kin.

With rank of Pioneer with the battalion, Harley embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Metagama on 27 November 1916. Arriving in England on 6 December, he was transferred to the 5th Divisional Engineers at Bramshott on 1 February 1917. Later that month Harley was posted to the 14th Field Company, Canadian Engineers and then on to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot in March of 1918 and arrived in France on the 16th, taken on strength with the Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Pool. On 1 June 1918 he joined the 11th Battalion, Canadian Engineers in the field. Canadian Engineers were responsible for the construction of defences, sanitation systems, water supplies, bridging, and assisting with trench raids. One of the most important functions of the Sappers in the war was to dig tunnels for mines underneath enemy trenches, with which to plant explosives to destroy them. In February of 1919 Harley was granted a two week leave to the UK. While on leave he was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Engineers Railway Battalion.

On 23 February 1919, in the Parish of Cowley St John in Oxford, Harley married Louisa (Louie) Ward. Born on 1 September 1899 and baptized in the same parish, Louie was the daughter of George Ward and Louisa (Louie) Robinson. Her parents had married in 1894 Oxfordshire and over the years George worked as a cab/mail driver and at the time of his daughter’s marriage his occupation was given as soldier.

With the end of the war Harley and Louie arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Orduna on 14 September 1919. Harley was discharged from service on demobilization on 21 September 1919 at Halifax, rank of Sapper.

Harley and Louie settled in Fort William, giving birth to son Robert Ward in 1921. At the time of the 1921 census the family was listed in Fort William with Harley working as a chauffeur. However Harley was also listed on the 1921 census for Kenora, Ontario where he was working as a Canadian Pacific Railway switchman. At time he was living with Peter and Nellie Mills, his sister Ruby having married their son George in 1920. Harley and Louie gave birth to a second child, daughter Iris Eva.

In 1926 Louie and the children travelled to England, arriving on 16 August aboard the Ausonia. In 1927 Harley crossed the border to the US, on his way to Detroit where his sister Blanche and husband Donald Stuart were living. In 1928 Harley travelled to England, arriving back in Canada on the Ascania on 29 July 1928. The 1930 US census found him living in Redfern, Wayne, Michigan with his sister Elva and husband John Brimmell and family, occupation given as mechanical repair work. Having given birth to daughter Blanche Alcesta in 1928, Louie and the three children arrived in Quebec aboard the Empress of Australia on 8 June 1932.

The family reunited, they continued to make the Thunder Bay area of Ontario their home, living in Vickers Heights. Around 1940 Harley began work in the inspection department of the Canadian Car and Foundry Company. He was a member of the Fort William branch of the Canadian Legion and Local 1975 UAW (CIO).

Having been ill for some time, Harley died on 29 June 1955 at his home on North Victor Street, Vickers Heights. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Louie, son Robert at home, and daughters Iris (Reginald) Blight of Vickers Heights and Blanche (Roy) Cooper of what would later become Thunder Bay. He was also survived by five grandchildren, his mother Lucinda of Tilsonburg, Ontario and sisters Elva Haggert of Detroit and Blanche Stuart of Toledo, Ohio. He was predeceased by his father Daniel in 1941 in Fort William and sister Ruby Mills in 1947 in Port Huron, Michigan. Harley’s mother Lucinda died in 1955 in the Tilsonburg area, sister Elva in 1959 in Toledo, Ohio, and sister Blanche in 1984 in Lucas, Ohio. His wife Louie died on 27 January 1971. Harley is interred in a military plot in the Mountain View Cemetery in Thunder Bay.

By Judy Stockham

Grave marker photograph by Lynda Piilo,

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