|Date of Birth||October 29, 1895|
|Place of Birth||West Carron, Larbert, Stirlingshire|
|Next of Kin||father, David Duncan of Ignace, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Telegrapher|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||Canadian Corps Signals Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Ignace, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 7, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||18|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
James Duncan was born on 29 October 1895 in West Carron, Larbert, Stirlingshire in Scotland, date and place confirmed by his birth record. His father David Duncan, an iron moulder, was from Falkirk while his mother Annie McKechnie was from Edinburgh where the couple married on 10 July 1877. Their first child, daughter Mary, was born in Edinburgh but by the time of the birth of their next child, Annie, the family had moved to West Carron, Larbert, not far from Falkirk. Subsequent children born in Larbert were Agnes, Isabella, Sarah, James, Jemima, and William.
James’ father David immigrated to Canada first, arriving on 2 October 1906 aboard the Corinthian on his way to Winnipeg. Annie and children Agnes, Isabella, Sarah, James and William followed the next year, arriving in Halifax on 22 February 1907, also on the Corinthian. The family eventually settled in the village of Ignace in northwestern Ontario where David found work as a caretaker.
James signed his attestation papers on 7 February 1916 in Dryden, Ontario. His occupation was given as telegrapher and his father David in Ignace as next of kin. He gave his date and place of birth as 29 October 1897 in Carron Falkirk, Stirlingshire in Scotland. In April James’ brother William enlisted in Dryden, both boys with the 94th Battalion. Organized in November of 1915 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel HAC Machin with recruitment throughout northwestern Ontario, the 94th Battalion was headquartered in Port Arthur. After training for several months the battalion embarked from Halifax on 29 June 1916 aboard the SS Olympic. On board were Privates James and William Duncan.
Once in England both James and William were transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion. In December James was transferred to the 32nd Battalion and then on to 6th Reserve Battalion and posted to the Signal Base in January 1917. In April he was sent to France, spending time at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp before joining the 4th Battalion in the field in mid November. In late January of 1918 James was granted a two week leave to the UK, attached to the Canadian Corps Headquarters upon his return. In March James was transferred to the Canadian Signal Pool, Canadian Engineers. He was out of service from late December until mid February 1919 (vdg), taken on strength with the Canadian Engineers Reinforcement Depot on the 17th. On the 20th he was admitted to the Canadian Specialty Hospital at Witley, discharged on the 21st of March. James embarked for Canada on May 14th and was discharged from service on the 26th in Port Arthur.
After the war James returned to Ignace, found on the 1921 census with his parents and brother William, both William and James working as operators. By the next year he was living in Fort William but then moved back to Ignace. On 3 April 1923, in Fort William, James married Mary Olive Browell. Born in Consett, Durham in England, Mary was the daughter of Charles Browell and Florence Gibson. She had previously been married to John Beaton. James’ occupation was given as telegrapher and their intended place of residency after marriage was given as Fort William. By 1933 James was living in Kenora, Ontario where he joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. Further trace of James could not be confirmed.
by Judy Stockham