Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 29, 1900
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMaude Morrisette (mother), Kerrisdale P.O., British Columbia
Trade / CallingHotel clerk
Service Details
Regimental Number2005748
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Tramways Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Address at EnlistmentPoint Grey, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 19, 1917
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 13, 1993
Age at Death93
Buried AtMaple Ridge Cemetery, Maple Ridge, British Columbia

Morrisette, Elmo Murray

Sapper Elmo Murray Morrisette enlisted in January 1917, at age 16, and served in France with the Canadian Engineers. He was wounded at the Battle of Amiens and invalided to Canada six months later for further medical treatment.

Elmo Murray, usually known as Murray, was the son of William Morrisette and Maude Bell Shipton of Vancouver, British Columbia. William was born in Quebec around 1861 and by the mid-1880s he was living in the Rat Portage area in northwestern Ontario. He married his first wife, Elmina, in Rat Portage in 1887. Their son, William Percy, was born in 1889 in the neighbouring village of Norman, where William worked as a sawmill labourer and sawyer. Elmina died in August 1893, at age 25, and she’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

William was married again in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) on 25 July 1896. His second wife, Maude Bell Shipton, was born in Chicago, Illinois around 1870. Her parents, Charles and Jennie Shipton, were both from England. Maude became a school teacher and by 1891 she was living in Norman with her parents. William and Maude had four children, all born in Norman or Rat Portage/Kenora: Ruth (1898), Elmo Murray (29 April 1900), Charles Haverhill (1898) and Leslie Andrew (1905). Sadly the oldest boy, William Percy, died of typhoid fever in 1906, at age 17. Not long after that the family moved to British Columbia. When the 1911 census was taken they were living in Vancouver and William’s occupation was sawmill labourer.

The war entered its third year in August 1916 and Murray enlisted in Vancouver that winter. He was only 16 at the time but he was a big lad and he passed himself off as two years older. He signed up on 19 January 1917 and joined the Canadian Engineers Training Depot. His occupation was hotel clerk and his address was Point Grey (now part of Vancouver). About four months after enlisting Murray was sent overseas with his unit’s 25th draft. He embarked from Halifax on 3 May 1917 on the SS Justicia and arrived in England about ten days later. He spent a year in the UK with the Canadian Engineers Training Depot. In January 1918 he became ill with influenza and he recovered for ten days at No. 14 Canadian General Hospital in Eastbourne.

On 25 April 1918 Murray sent to France and transferred to the Canadian Engineers Reinforcement Pool. He suffered an accidental injury in May, a lacerated foot, and he spent three weeks at a casualty clearing station and No. 18 U.S.A. General Hospital in Camiers. He was discharged to base duty on 6 June and on 2 July he was drafted to the 1st Tramways Company. Tramways companies built, operated and maintained light railways near the front lines in France and Belgium. The railways were used to transport supplies, ammunition, troops and ambulance trains.

The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started on 8 August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens. The Canadians were heavily involved in operations during those last three months. Murray was wounded on 20 August when he was hit by shrapnel in the face, neck and leg. He spent several days at a casualty clearing station before being moved to No. 5 General Hospital in Rouen on 24 August. He had an operation to remove some of the shrapnel and on 27 August he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship Grantully Castle. He recovered for about four months at No. 4 Canadian General Hospital in Basingstoke. In mid-January 1919 he was transferred to No. 5 Canadian General Hospital in Liverpool, to await his return to Canada.

Murray embarked from Liverpool on 24 February on the hospital ship Essequibo, arriving in Canada about a week later via Portland, Maine. He was admitted to Shaughnessy Military Hospital in Vancouver on 14 March where he received further treatment for the wounds to his face. On 11 June he was transferred to the Esquimalt Military Hospital, which was near Victoria. He was discharged from the army on 21 August in Vancouver, due to being no longer physically fit for war service.

When the 1921 census was taken Murray was living in Point Grey with his parents, sister and two brothers and listed as a student of agriculture. A few years later he started working as a fisherman up the coast of Vancouver Island. He met his future wife, Gloria Clemantine Godkin, in 1927 at Shushartie Bay on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Gloria was born in Puyallup, Washington on 31 August 1908. Her father, Norman McDonald Godkin, was born in La Centre, Washington and her mother, Alice Excene Gano, in Hartley, Iowa. They immigrated to Canada in 1915 and lived on Hornby Island at first, later moving to Shushartie Bay.

Murray and Gloria were married in Shushartie Bay on 5 April 1928. They had at least five children: Mary, Gloria, Luella, Ruth and David. Murray worked as a fisherman and logger and they lived on Cortez Island, Sonora Island and other places in the Vancouver Island area. Murray also had a career with the government fisheries department, part of that time as a fisheries patrol officer. In 1944 he and his family settled in Albion where they lived on a 30-acre homestead. Albion is now part of the community of Maple Ridge, just east of Vancouver. Gloria worked as a news correspondent for the Maple Ridge Gazette, the Vancouver Sun and other newspapers. She also painted and wrote about local history and her life on the coast.

Murray passed away in Maple Ridge Hospital on 13 July 1993, at age 93, and he’s buried in Maple Ridge Cemetery. Gloria was still living in their home in Albion when she celebrated her 100th birthday in August 2008. She died at Baillie House in Maple Ridge on 9 May 2013, at age 104.

By Becky Johnson

Morrisette-Elmo-Murray-89 Morrisette-Elmo-Murray-90 Morrisette-Elmo-Murray-92a Morrisette-Elmo-Murray-92b Morrisette-Elmo-Murray-93 Morrisette-Elmo-Murray-94

Photos of Murray courtesy of Maple Ridge Museum. Grave marker photo from used with permission.

« Back To Soldier Biographies