Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 11, 1883
Place of BirthBasford, Nottinghamshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs Hanna Leavesley, mother, 32 Lincoln Street, Old Basford, Nottingham, England
Trade / CallingBlacksmith
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number154945
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion8th Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJune 12, 1915
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 30, 1958
Age at Death74
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Leavesley, Ernest Thomas

Ernest Thomas Leavesley was born on 13 July 1883 in Basford, a suburb in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England. His father Charles Leavesley was from Newton Regis in Warwickshire while his mother Hannah Mee was from Basford where the couple married in 1874. Ernest had an older sister Sarah and a younger brother Charles. Charles Sr first worked as a coal miner but by the time of the 1891 census was working as an insurance agent. By the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Bulwell on the northern edge of Nottingham where Ernest was working as a blacksmith apprentice. Sadly, Charles Sr died in April of 1907.

Ernest, also known as Tom, immigrated to Canada in 1907, arriving in Montreal aboard the Tunisian on 5 July. His occupation was given as blacksmith on the passenger list and his destination as Kenora, Ontario. By the time he signed his attestation papers with the 51st Battalion on 12 June 1915 he was in Edmonton, Alberta working as a blacksmith. That October he was transferred to the 1st Pioneer Battalion and embarked for overseas from Montreal aboard the Metagama on November 20th.

During the last quarter of 1915 in the registration district of Nottingham, Ernest married Nellie Winfield. Born in 1891 in Basford, Nellie was the daughter of Remus and Mary Jane (née Lomas) Winfield. The 1911 census found Nellie living with her widowed mother and brother Joseph in Nottingham where she was working as a curtain folder for a lace dresser.

Ernest arrived in France on 9 March 1916. That June he forfeited one day for for drunkenness when on active service. In July he was transferred to 12th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery Headquarters, taken on strength on the 25th. In late May of 1917 he was granted a two week leave, returning on 9 June. Two days later he was transferred to the 8th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. That July he was sentenced to five days Field Punishment No 1 for having liquor in his possession. On 12 July 1917 he was appointed Shoeing Smith and then granted a second two week leave in February of 1918. On 30 March 1918 Ernest was promoted to Farrier Sergeant. A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves, if necessary. A farrier combines some blacksmith’s skills (fabricating, adapting, and adjusting metal shoes) with some veterinarian’s skills (knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb) to care for horses’ feet. As a Farrier Sergeant amongst other duties Ernest would have inspected the horses daily. In time for Christmas, Ernest was granted a leave to the UK on 17 December, returning on 7 January 1919. With the end of the war he returned to England in early March. Aboard the Grampian, Ernest and Nellie arrived in Quebec on 2 July.

After the war Ernest and Nellie eventually settled in Myrtle in the RM of Roland in Manitoba. It appears that they gave birth to a stillborn child in 1920. In December of 1923 Nellie travelled to England for a visit, returning in June of 1924. Sadly, she died on 18 January 1925 and is interred in the Fairview Cemetery in the RM of Roland between Roland and Myrtle.

At some point Ernest entered a relationship with Margaret McSweeney (née Johnston). Margaret, her husband James and children Ella Sarah, William John (Jack), James Cecil, and Irene Margaret had immigrated to Canada from Ireland around 1912, settling in Winnipeg where they gave birth to two more children, Evelyn Annie and Robert. By the time of the 1921 census James, a plumber, and the children were living on Spence Street in Winnipeg. Ernest and Margaret lived in Kenora for a while where they gave birth to son Leonard Ernest in 1928 and where Ernest/Tom joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. They then moved to Winnipeg where Ernest, at times going by the name of Tom, worked as a blacksmith.

Ernest died on 30 March 1958 in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. His Veteran Death card listed his son Leonard E Leavesley of Winnipeg as his next of kin. Predeceased by his mother Hannah in 1924 in Nottingham, at the time of his death Ernest was survived by Margaret and Leonard as well as most of Margaret’s children, his sister Sarah in England and brother Charles in Australia. Margaret died on 15 January 1965 in St Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, followed by Leonard on 24 January 1981 in the Health Sciences Hospital, Winnipeg. At the time of his death Leonard was survived by his wife Una, a daughter and son, and two grandchildren. Ernest is interred in a military plot in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg. Margaret, Leonard, and Una are also interred in Brookside.

by Judy Stockham

Nellie’s gravemarker photo:


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