Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 25, 1886
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinPeter Begg, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingCarpenter
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number439043
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion1st Army Troops Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 22, 1914
Age at Enlistment28
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 12, 1969
Age at Death83
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot40 E-35-1, Liberty View Block

Williamson, James Albert Richard

Sapper James Albert Richard Williamson enlisted with the 52nd Battalion in Kenora, Ontario and served overseas for three and a half years, most of that time with the Canadian Engineers. He returned to Canada in March 1919.

According to his attestation James was born in Keewatin, Ontario on 25 March 1886. Other records indicate a birth date as early as 1883 and James may have also used the surname Robinson. His parents were Paul and Mary Williamson and he had at least one brother. In late 1914 James was about 28 years old, working as a carpenter and living in Keewatin. He had spent some time training with two militia units, the 90th Winnipeg Rifles and Kenora’s 98th Regiment. He enlisted in Kenora on 22 December 1914 when volunteers were being recruited for a third overseas contingent. Full time training with pay started on 3 March 1915 and the men became part of the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion when it was organized later that month. It was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora recruits were sent there in June to join the rest of the battalion. While they were training the 1st Canadian Division was fighting in France and Belgium. Men were needed to replace casualties in front line combat units and battalions in Canada were asked to send reinforcements. James was sent to England in September 1915 with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft, one of 250 men from the 52nd Battalion. They embarked from Montreal on 4 September on the SS Missanabie and arrived in England nine days later.

Overseas service:

-James was transferred to the 12th Reserve Battalion, No. 1 Company for a few months of training at Shorncliffe Camp in Kent
-on 9 November he was assigned to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot
-at the end of December he had leave in Scotland
-he was transferred to the 1st Army Corps Troops Company, Canadian Engineers on 16 January 1916
-he arrived in France with his unit on 18 January and served with them for the next three years
-Army Troops worked with engineer units to construct roads and railways, defences, huts and other buildings, gun emplacements and water supply systems
-in August 1916 James was on command at B├ęcourt Wood at the Somme and in November 1916 he was on command at Gouy-Servins, across from Vimy
-he had ten days leave in July 1917 and two weeks in March 1918
-at the end of April 1918 he was sent to the Canadian Corps School for six weeks
-in August he was transferred to a Corps laundry unit
-at the end of November he developed cellulitis on his face, a painful bacterial infection
-James was admitted to No. 53 Casualty Clearing Station on 30 November then sent to No. 10 General Hospital in Rouen
-he was discharged from a convalescent depot on 11 December
-on 16 December he was posted to the Canadian Infantry Base Depot
-at the end of December he returned to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot in England
-on 22 March 1919 James embarked from Liverpool for Canada on the SS Regina, landing at Halifax on 30 March
-he was recorded on the passenger manifest as J.A.R. Robinson-Williamson and next of kin was ‘brother’
-he was discharged on 3 April in Port Arthur, his intended address listed as Kenora

When the 1921 census was taken James was living on Islington Reserve, northwest of Kenora, and working as a wood contractor. He was married in Kenora on 10 October 1923 to 17-year-old Marie Seymour, the daughter of Joseph and Lizette Seymour of Assabaska Reserve. James was working as a trapper at the time and he and Marie had at least three children, Samuel, Mary and Dorothy. In 1930 he became a member of the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. James passed away on 12 June 1969 in the Kenora hospital and he’s buried in the veterans’ section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery. He’s commemorated on the Aboriginal Veterans Tribute Honour List found here.

By Becky Johnson

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