Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 15, 1899
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAngus Morrison, father, 143 Laclie Street, Orillia, Ontario
Trade / CallingHorseman
Service Details
Regimental Number2265410
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion2nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentToronto, Ontario
Address at Enlistment143 Laclie Street, Orillia, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 7, 1917
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceFrance
Prisoner of WarNo
Death Details

Morrison, William Alexander

William Alexander Morrison was born on 15 February 1899 in the Rat Portage area (later named Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. His father Angus John Morrison was from Orillia, Ontario while his mother Elizabeth (Lizzie) Paterson was from Dundee, Scotland. Marrying on 4 December 1889 in Rat Portage, both were living in Norman, a small community a couple of kilometres west of Kenora at the time of the marriage. Angus was working as a sawyer at one of the local mills. The couple gave birth to daughter Ellen Frances (Nellie) in 1890 followed by Sadie in late 1892. Sadly Sadie passed away in August of 1893. After William’s birth, Allison Paterson was born in July of 1901. For the 1901 census the family was living in Rat Portage, with Angus’ occupation given as engineer. Tragedy hit the family in May of 1902 when Elizabeth passed away with Bright’s disease. Elizabeth and Sadie are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

At some point Angus and the children moved to Orillia where they lived with Angus’ sister Mary Catherine (Kate). At the time of the 1911 census, the family living with Kate, Angus was working as a labourer at odd jobs. Ellen, a housekeeper, was living with the Tudhope family in Orillia.

With occupation given as horseman and his father Angus in Orillia as next of kin, William signed his attestation papers on 7 April 1917 in Toronto. His pay was assigned to his “foster mother” Kate Morrison in Orillia. As a Sapper with the Signal Training Depot (14th R.D.) he arrived in England aboard the Grampian on 31 December 1917. On 2 January 1918 he was taken on strength with Canadian Engineers Training Depot. In late January into early February William spent 28 days in the 14th Canadian Hospital in Eastbourne suffering with influenza. The influenza reoccurring, he spent another 12 days in the hospital, discharged on 4 July 1918. That October William arrived in France to serve with the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Engineers with rank of Driver. Organized in France in May 1918 under the command of Major J. M. Rolston, personnel were drawn from the 2nd Field Company, a portion of 107th Pioneer Battalion and the remainder from Canadian Engineers Reinforcement Depot. With the end of the war he arrived back in England in mid April of 1919. Embarking from Southampton aboard the Aquitani on 18 May, William disembarked in Halifax on May 25th. He was discharged from service on demobilization on 27 May in Toronto. His proposed residence after discharge was given as Orillia.

Little is known about William’s life after the war. At the time of the1921 census he was living with his aunt Kate in Orillia, Angus and the children no longer living there. His sister Allison married Alex Anderson in 1923 and the couple were to make nearby Atherley, Ontario their home where they farmed. William’s aunt Kate died in 1939 in the area. An age appropriate Angus Morrison had died in 1919 in the House of Refuge, Simcoe County, listed as a widower on the death record. Further trace of William and his family was not found.

By Judy Thorburn