|Date of Birth||May 18, 1884|
|Place of Birth||Upper Dicker, Arlington, Sussex|
|Next of Kin||Albert Gander, father, Upper Dicker, Sussex, England|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive engineer, CPR|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||4th Divisional Engineers|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 19, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||31|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 6, 1960|
|Age at Death||76|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
Ernest James Gander was born on 18 May 1884 in Upper Dicker, Arlington, Sussex in England. His parents were Albert and Jane Ann (née Martin) Gander. The children born to the family were Albert Edward, George Henry, Bessie, Ernest, Edith, and Ellen Louise. For the 1891 census the family was residing in Arlington, father’s occupation listed as groom. By 1901 the family was in Hellingly District in Sussex, with Albert Senior’s occupation changed to farmer. Ernest immigrated to Canada in 1908, coming to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) to be employed first as a wiper for the Canadian Pacific Railway, then as a fireman in 1910, and finally as engineer in 1915.
Ernest signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg on 19 February 1916. With the qualifications of steam engineer, Ernest embarked from Halifax on 21 June 1916 aboard the Baltic with the 2nd Field Company, Canadian Engineers. Once overseas, he was transferred to the 15th Field Company, 4th Division of the Canadian Engineers at Bramshott, and arrived in France on 12 August 1916 to be transferred to the 11th Field Company.
In January of 1917, Ernest wrote the Kenora Miner and News, thanking the ladies of Kenora for ‘the kind and generous parcels’ sent to the boys; the cake was a great treat as it arrived in time for Christmas. Ernest reported the boys were well and hearty but had lots of narrow escapes and that although not very cold, the weather was ‘awful wet and muddy, which puts the trenches in fearful shape for the boys’. Sapper Ernest Gander was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 18 February 1918. During his time in France, twice Ernest was granted leave: 12 days during October of 1917, and then 14 days from 26 October to 13 November 1918, perhaps spending time with his future wife the day the war was officially ended. Ernest returned to Kenora in June of 1919.
Ernest returned to England in April of 1920 to marry Julie Adrienne Pinet, date of marriage 12 June in Upper Dicker. Julie was born on 1 December 1897 in Belgium with circumstances of how they met during the war unknown. The couple returned to Kenora where they raised their family of Albert James, Helen, Margaret, and Roland. Ernest retired from the CPR in 1949.
Ernest died on 6 July 1960 in Kenora and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. His wife Julie died in 1968 and is also interred in the cemetery. Over the course of his life, he talked very little of the war to his family.
Ernest is commemorated on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.
by Judy Stockham
family photos and buttons courtesy of son Roland Gander.