Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 30, 1898
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinReverend Menotti Flatt (father), 231 Polson Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingNewspaper reporter
Service Details
Regimental Number2650856
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionReserve Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment231 Polson Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentMay 27, 1918
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 28, 1970
Age at Death71
Buried AtMount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario

Flatt, James Ruskin

Signaller James Ruskin Flatt enlisted with the Canadian Field Artillery in May 1918 and served in Canada and Great Britain for fourteen months.

Ruskin was the oldest son of Reverend Menotti C. Flatt and Ida Elizabeth Fee of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Rev. Flatt was a Methodist minister and he and his wife were both born in Ontario. After being ordained in 1892 he served in at least ten towns in Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and Saskatchewan. He married Ida in 1897 or 1898, probably while he was serving in Glenboro, Manitoba. From there they moved to Keewatin, Ontario where their twins, James Ruskin and Ellen Fern, were born on 30 October 1898. A son Victor Woodsworth was born in Trehern, South Norfolk, Manitoba in 1901 and he was followed by two daughters, Helen Beryl (1903, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan) and Lois Mary (1909, Boissevain, Manitoba). At the time of the 1916 census the family was living in Portage la Prairie and by 1918, when Ruskin enlisted, they had moved to Winnipeg.

Conscription started in Canada in 1917 and men 20 to 34 years old were required to register that fall. In April 1918, following the German spring offensive, men 19 years old were called up too. Ruskin had turned 19 in October 1917 and he reported voluntarily and had his medical on 20 April 1918 at Fort Osborne in Winnipeg. He enlisted a month later, signing up on 27 May with the 76th Depot Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. He was working as a newspaper reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press at the time. Recruits for artillery units trained at Camp Petawawa in Ontario before going overseas and James was sent to Petawawa that summer. He had a medical at the camp on 5 September and he embarked from Quebec five days later on the HMT Themistocles, with the 145th draft. The recruits arrived in London, England on 25 September and that same day Ruskin was transferred to the Reserve Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He spent the usual period in a segregation camp before beginning his training at Witley.

The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November and Ruskin was transferred to Kinmel Park in North Wales on 27 December, to await his return to Canada. In late January 1919 he was sentenced to two weeks Field Punishment No. 2 for being absent without leave for almost two days and failing to comply with an order. In February he was ill with influenza and he spent a week at No. 9 Canadian General Hospital. Ruskin embarked for Canada on the SS Mauretania on 28 June, arriving at Halifax on 3 July. He was discharged on demobilization on 7 July in Toronto. His final medical shows he grew an inch and gained 24 lbs. during his year in service.

After the war Ruskin went on to have a long career in journalism. During the 1930s he was general news editor for the Canadian Press, working in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and New York. He was married to his first wife, Enid Katherine Brooks, on 9 August 1922 in Manhattan, New York. Katherine was born in New York in 1901, the fifth daughter of William and Cora Brooks. Ruskin and Katherine lived in Toronto for a few years but when the 1930 U.S. census was taken they were living in New York.

Ruskin’s father was active in the Methodist and United Church ministries for about fifty years. After leaving Winnipeg Rev. Flatt and his wife lived in several places in Ontario before settling in Toronto. Ruskin was living in Toronto in March 1947 when his father passed away. The following year he retired from his career in journalism, apparently after being involved in a car accident. His second wife, Marguerite (Peggy) McConnell, was a school teacher who was born in Toronto in 1902. She taught until at least 1965 and Ruskin worked as an accountant and inspector, returning to newspaper work in the mid-1960s. His health began to decline around that time and he passed away on 28 May 1970, at age 71, at their winter home in Hollywood Beach, Florida. His funeral was held in Toronto on 2 June and he’s buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Peggy passed away in 1990, at age 88, and along with Ruskin and his parents she is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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