|Date of Birth||March 13, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Port Arthur, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Louise LeBleu (mother), Kenora P.O., Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Shipper|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||76th Depot Battery|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Field Artillery|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora P.O., Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||March 21, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||33|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 20, 1960|
|Age at Death||75|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||RC C - 24 - 8|
Gunner Samuel Jules LeBleu was the son of Jean (John) LeBleu and Marie Louise LaSalle. Jean and Louise were both born in Quebec, Jean in Gentilly and Louise in Yamaska. They were married in 1873 in Silver Islet in the district of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Silver Islet was a small community on Lake Superior across from Port Arthur, in what is now Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Jean was working there as a miner.
Louise’s parents moved to Manitoba and settled in the Ste. Agathe area, south of Winnipeg. By the time of the 1881 census Jean and Louise were also living in Ste. Agathe. They had taken up farming and they had two daughters, Hortense and Evalina. A son John was born in Manitoba around 1883 and Samuel was born in Port Arthur, Ontario on 13 March 1885. When the 1891 census was taken the family was back in Manitoba, living in Winnipeg where Jean worked as a retail grocer. The youngest son, Aimé, was born in Winnipeg in 1892 and Jean passed away the following year.
Louise had an older sister Delia who was married and living in Norman, Ontario, a village just west of the town of Rat Portage (now called Kenora). After being widowed Louise joined her sister in Norman. She married her second husband, Maxime Pelletier, in June 1897 in Rat Portage. They were both residents of the neighbouring village of Norman at the time. When the 1901 census was taken Samuel was a student at a boarding school in St. Boniface, Manitoba. After attending college he made his home in Norman, where his mother and stepfather still lived. His brother Aime LeBleu enlisted in June 1915 and served in Canada for 20 months, getting discharged for medical reasons. Sadly, Aimé was killed in a train accident at work in October 1917, at age 25.
Conscription started in Canada in the summer of 1917 and Samuel reported as required that fall. He had his medical exam on 22 September in St. Boniface. He was single, 32 years old, living in the Kenora area and working as a shipper at the time. He was called up on 21 March 1918 and assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment in Winnipeg. Five days later he transferred to the 76th Depot Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. In May the recruits were sent to Camp Petawawa in Ontario for training and they had a warm sendoff during the brief stop at the Kenora train station. Samuel served for several months before being granted a leave of absence without pay. He was discharged on demobilization on 3 January 1919 in Winnipeg.
Samuel’s brother Aimé had married Ernestine Fortin and not long after the war Samuel married her sister Leona Fortin. Leona grew up in Keewatin, one of seven children of Charles François Fortin and Emilie Jolicouer. Her brother Edgar Fortin was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, at age 19. When the 1921 census was taken Samuel and Leona were living in Norman and their first child, Denis Leo, was a month old. They had four more children: Lawrence Hector, Aurele (died at age 4), Lorraine and Irene. Samuel worked for many years as a salesman with his brother John, who was a merchant. He belonged to the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. His son Denis served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.
Samuel and his wife moved to Winnipeg around 1955. He passed away at home on 20 May 1960, at age 75, and his funeral was held in Kenora four days later. Leona died in 1964 and they are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery along with other members of the family.
By Becky Johnson