Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 5, 1890
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Robert Torrence (sister), Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingSawyer
Service Details
Regimental Number718144
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion2nd Battalion, Canadian Engineers
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentGrandview, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 2, 1916
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 27, 1964
Age at Death74
Buried AtCremated; location of cremains unknown.

Kay, Arthur Cameron

Sergeant Arthur Cameron Kay was born on 5 January 1890 in the village of Norman in northwestern Ontario. His mother, Annie Kay, was the daughter of John and Ann Kay of Norman and Arthur was raised by his grandparents. John and Ann were both from Dundee, Scotland. They had at least ten children of their own and the oldest ones, including Annie, were born in Scotland. The family had immigrated to Canada in the early 1870s, settling in northwestern Ontario about ten years later. John was employed as a millwright at a local sawmill and some of his sons also worked in the lumber industry.

By the time Arthur enlisted he was living in Grandview, Manitoba and working as a sawyer. He signed up in Grandview on 2 January 1916, joining the 107th (Timber Wolf) Battalion. The battalion trained at Camp Hughes that summer and headed overseas in the fall, embarking from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 18 September and landing at Liverpool a week later. On 2 November Arthur was appointed Acting Lance Corporal. In December he came down with German measles and he spent ten days in the Military Isolation Hospital in Aldershot.

On 25 February 1917 the 107th Battalion was sent to France, where it served as a pioneer unit. Pioneers worked closely with the engineers and spent a large part of their time at or near the front lines. Their work included mining, wiring, burying cables, tunnelling, railway and road work, constructing water systems, and building and repairing trenches and dugouts. They also served as infantry when needed. Arthur was promoted to Corporal on 11 April, during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and in June he spent eleven days at the First Army School of Mines. In August the Canadians were at the Battle of Hill 70 and afterwards Arthur had ten days leave in Paris. In January 1918 he developed a contagious skin infection and he spent two weeks in the hospital.

Arthur was promoted to Sergeant on 19 April 1918. The following month there was a re-organization of the Canadian Engineers and Arthur was in a group of soldiers transferred from the 107th Battalion to the newly-formed 2nd Battalion, Canadian Engineers. That summer the Canadians were given a few weeks of intensive training in open warfare and they were heavily involved in the final months of the war. Arthur was at the First Army Musketry School for three weeks, starting on 14 September, and in October he had a two-week leave of absence in England. He rejoined his unit a few days before the Armistice. In December the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Engineers took part in the March to the Rhine, crossing into Germany and staying there with the occupying forces for about a month before returning to Belgium. The troops in Arthur’s unit were sent back to Great Britain in several stages. Arthur arrived in England on 22 March 1919 and sailed for Canada about six weeks later. He was discharged on demobilization on 11 May in Port Arthur, Ontario, with his intended residence listed as Keewatin.

In the spring of 1920 Arthur travelled to Montreal to get married. His wife, Kathleen Stalford, was born in 1882 in St. Pancras. London, England. She was the only daughter of David and Sarah Jane Stalford and she had one younger brother, Denzil. Kathleen arrived in Montreal on the SS Corsican on 5 May 1920, with her destination listed as Montreal ‘to be married.’ ¬†She and Arthur were married the following day at the Inspector Street Presbyterian Church. They lived for awhile in Nipigon, Ontario and their oldest son Gerald David John Kay was born there in June 1921. Two years later when their second son Hugh was born they were living out west in the Vancouver area. Gerald served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, becoming Squadron Leader in a bombing unit and flying on dozens of missions.

Arthur continued to work in the lumber industry as a sawyer and later as a foreman, retiring in 1959. He passed away in Shaughnessy Veterans Hospital in Vancouver on 27 January 1964, a few weeks after his 74th birthday. Kathleen died in Vancouver in February 1975, at age 93.

By Becky Johnson

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