Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 25, 1887
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinWilliam John McPherson (brother), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingBrakeman
Service Details
Regimental Number2381390
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion76th Depot Battery
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMarch 21, 1918
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 22, 1931
Age at Death43
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

McPherson, James Leonard

Gunner James Leonard McPherson was called up in March 1918 and served with the Canadian Field Artillery for nine months in Canada.

James was the son of John McPherson and Margaret Carnegie of Keewatin, Ontario. John, a carpenter and millwright, was from London, England. He had at least four children with his first wife, Margaret Finn, all born in Ottawa: Emily/Emma (1871), Martha (1872), George (1874) and William John (1876). Martha died at age 7 months and Margaret passed away in the fall of 1879, at age 28. They are both buried in Notre Dame Cathedral cemetery in Ottawa.

John married Margaret Carnegie on 24 May 1881 in Smiths Falls, Lanark County, Ontario. Margaret was from Edinburgh, Scotland. Around 1886 John and Margaret moved to northwestern Ontario and settled in the town of Keewatin, where he was employed as a foreman with the Keewatin Lumber Company. Their children included Edward, Boyd, James Leonard, Elizabeth, Prudence, Magdalene Martha, Ruth, and twins Margaret and John. James, usually known as Jim, was born in Keewatin on 25 September 1887. Sadly, his mother passed away in August 1897, on the day the twins were born, and both infants died within a few weeks. When the 1901 census was taken Jim was living at home with his father and seven of his brothers and sisters. Three aunts were also staying with the family, Elizabeth and Fanny Carnegie and Mrs. Charlotte Bailey. John passed away that fall, in October 1901.

Sports were popular in the Keewatin and Kenora area and Jim was involved in both hockey and swimming when he was young. Around 1907 he began working as a trainman for the Canadian Pacific Railway and he was with them for about twenty years. The war started in August 1914 and his oldest brother George McPherson enlisted in November 1915. He was commissioned as an officer and he served for three years in Canada, Great Britain and France. Conscription started in Canada in 1917 and Jim registered as required on 6 October 1917 in Kenora. His occupation was brakeman and next of kin was his brother William John of Kenora.

Jim was called up in Winnipeg on 21 March 1918, at age 30, and assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. Five days later he was transferred to the 76th Depot Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. After two months in Winnipeg he was sent to Camp Petawawa in Ontario, along with several other Kenora lads, and they had a warm sendoff at the Kenora train station when they passed through on 28 May. Jim served with his unit for another seven months. He was back in Kenora for Christmas and his official discharge due to demobilization was on 30 December. His cousin Gerald Walton Bailey of Keewatin died in a flying accident in September 1918, while serving with the Royal Air Force.

Jim returned to his job with the Canadian Pacific Railway, working as a trainman and conductor. He was an avid fisherman and a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen as well as two local lodges. He retired due to illness around 1926 and he passed away in the Winnipeg General Hospital on 22 August 1931, at age 43. He’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora along with his parents, his infant twin brother and sister, and his siblings George (1874-1943). William John (1876-1954), Elizabeth (Mrs. John Bowie Smart) (1889-1949) and Madalene Martha (Mrs. Percy Clarence Devlin) (1893-1955). His oldest sister Emily (Mrs. John Lumsden) (1871-1957) is buried in Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.

By Becky Johnson

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