Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 13, 1895
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Wilfred Lavoie (mother), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingFarm Laborer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number198884
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionNo. 35 Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Forestry Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 15, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 9, 1962
Age at Death66
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotHilly Haven, 15E-17-4

Lavoie, Alfred Henry

Private Alfred Henry Lavoie enlisted in September 1915 at age 20 and served in France with the Canadian Forestry Corps.

Alfred was the youngest son of Wilfred Lavoie and Mary Ann McKeon of Kenora, Ontario. Mary Ann’s family emigrated from Scotland when she was a child and by 1881 they were living in Rat Portage (later called Kenora). Her husband Wilfred was from Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix County, Quebec. They were married around 1881 and they had at least six children: Thomas, Rosa, Mary (died at age two), Joseph, Wilfred Jr. and Alfred (born 13 September 1895). They lived in the Kenora area except for a short time spent in the U.S. where their daughter Rosa was born. In the 1891 census Wilfred was listed as a hotel keeper in Rat Portage and in 1901 he was working as a butcher. By the time of the 1911 census he and his family had moved to the township of Jaffray, just outside of Kenora, and he was a dairy farmer.

Alfred’s brother Wilfred enlisted in January 1915 and he went overseas with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft. Late that summer Alfred travelled to Manitoba to find temporary work as a farm labourer during harvesting. When he was finished he went to Camp Sewell to enlist, signing up with the 45th Battalion on 15 September 1915. About two months later a new battalion, the 94th, was organized in northwestern Ontario and Alfred was transferred to the new unit in January 1916. The 94th was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora recruits were sent there in May to join the rest of the battalion. They left for Quebec two weeks later and spent a short time at Valcartier before embarking for the UK on 28 June 1916 on the SS Olympic. In England the men were absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.

Overseas service:
-Alfred was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion on 13 July 1916
-on 28 March 1917 he was found to have defective eyesight which meant he could not serve with a front line unit
-on 30 March he was assigned to the Nova Scotia Regiment Depot
-a month later he was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps at Sunningdale
-on 2 May he was posted to No. 35 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps, a new unit that had just been organized in April
-No. 35 Company arrived in France on 4 May; they were in No. 9 District, Bordeaux Group
-Canadian Forestry units were employed in cutting timber, running sawmills, preparing railway ties and helping to clear terrain and build airfields and aerodromes
-other work listed in their war diaries included ‘clearing sites, ditching, draining, trimming and felling trees, hauling gravel, levelling, making culverts and drains, earthing, grading, ploughing, scraping, filling depressions, uprooting hedges, re-sodding, cutting pickets, stripping turf’
-in the summer of 1917 Alfred was out of action for a few days due to a contagious skin infection then a lacerated toe
-on 22 December he was given two weeks leave which lasted over Christmas and New Year’s
-on 11 January 1918 he developed inflammation in his leg and he was admitted to No. 1 South Africa Hospital in Abbeville
-on 7 March he was transferred to No. 5 Convalescent Depot in Cayeux
-two weeks later he was back at the base and he rejoined his unit in early April
-in September he was given two weeks leave in the UK
-he returned to England with his unit on 18 January 1919
-Alfred embarked from Liverpool on 10 March on the SS Celtic and arrived in Halifax via New York on 18 March
-he was discharged on 22 March in Port Arthur

After the war Alfred returned to Kenora and he was married there on 27 October 1919. His wife, 19-year-old Margaret Begg, had grown up in Rat Portage in a family of at least 12 children. Her brother James Begg served with the 43rd Battalion and he was missing and presumed killed in October 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. Alfred and Margaret made their home in Kenora and they had five children: Ruth, Edna, Douglas, Lawrence and Jim. Sadly Margaret died in July 1938, at age 37, and she’s buried in Hilly Haven Block in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Alfred was a diamond driller by trade and he continued to live and work in the Kenora area. He passed away in Pinecrest Home for the Aged on 9 March 1962, at age 66. His funeral was held at Notre Dame Church four days later and he’s buried beside his wife in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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