Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 25, 1874
Place of BirthOttawa, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. John Lumsden (sister), 38 Charles Street, Ottawa, Ontario
Trade / CallingLumberman
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionNo. 55 Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Forestry Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentNovember 15, 1915
Age at Enlistment41
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 4, 1943
Age at Death69
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotHush Incline, 15E-36-4

McPherson, George

Captain George McPherson enlisted in November 1915 at age 41 and served for three years in Canada, England, France and Belgium. He was invalided home due to illness in October 1918.

George was born on 25 April 1874 in Ottawa, Ontario, the son of John McPherson and his first wife Margaret Finn. John was from London, England and he was a carpenter and millwright by trade. He and his wife had at least four children: Emily/Emma (1871), Martha (1872), George (1874) and William (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 was married again in May 1881 in Smiths Falls, Lanark County, Ontario. His second wife, Margaret Carnegie, was born in 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, Elizabeth, Prudence, Magdalene Martha, Ruth, and twins Margaret and John. Sadly John’s second wife passed away in August 1897, the day Margaret and John were born, and both infants died within a few weeks. When the 1901 census was taken George was working as a mill sawyer and 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. That fall, in October 1901, John passed away after an illness of a few months.

At the time of the 1911 census George was superintendent of the logging department for the Keewatin Lumber Company. The war started in August 1914 and a year later a new overseas unit, the 94th Battalion, was organized in northwestern Ontario. George enlisted on 15 November 1915, a few days after the 94th’s recruiting office opened in Kenora. He was 41 years old and living in Keewatin, his occupation listed as lumberman. The new battalion was based in Port Arthur and George signed his Officers’ Declaration there on 8 January 1916, getting a commission as a Lieutenant. In February he spent some time assisting in the Rainy River area and on 11 March he became the battalion’s transport officer. The Kenora recruits headed to Port Arthur on 25 May and left for the east coast on 9 June. They spent a short time at the military camp in Valcartier, Quebec before embarking from Halifax on 28 June on the SS Olympic.

Overseas service:
-on 18 July 1916 George was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion
-in October he completed a musketry and Lewis gun course
-on 16 December he was promoted to Temporary Captain and assigned to the newly-organized 1st Labour Battalion; the battalion was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Machin of Kenora
-George was sent to France with his new unit on 8 January 1917, disembarking at Le Havre on 10 January
-the 1st Labour Battalion worked on the construction and maintenance of railways, both light and broad gauge, as well as roads and water supply systems; they also did other work as required
-in May George was ill with trench fever
-in the spring and early summer the battalion was based west of Amiens, France and in July they moved to Belgium
-George had ten days leave in September
-on 23 November he was temporarily attached to the 48th Chinese Labour Battalion
-from the war diary of the 1st Labour Battalion, 23 November 1917, ‘Capt G. McPherson proceeded to take temporary command of No. 48th Chinese Labour Coy. on Instructions from 59th Labour Group.’
-George returned to his unit on 14 December; they were still in Belgium at the time
-a few days later he was transferred to No. 55 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps (in No. 4 District, Bordeaux Group)
-George joined his new company in January 1918
-in June he had two weeks leave in the UK; while he was there he became ill with tonsillitis
-he was back in France in mid-July
-George returned to England on 8 September and was posted to the Canadian Forestry Corps Base Depot
-he was suffering from ill health that fall, mainly rheumatism caused by exposure to cold, wet weather; he also had problems with one foot due to an old injury (he had fractured his heel in 1906 in a work-related accident)
-George was granted leave pending his return to Canada
-he embarked from Southampton on the SS Olympic on 4 October and arrived in New York on 12 October
-he proceeded to Winnipeg and was struck off strength on 5 November due to being medically unfit

His brother James Leonard McPherson had been called up in March 1918 and he served in Canada for nine months. Their nephew Gerald Walton Bailey of Keewatin died in a flying accident in 1918 while training with the Royal Air Force. After the war George returned home and resumed his career with the Keewatin Lumber Company, working for them until his retirement. He was a lifetime member of Keewatin Lodge No. 417 and a member of the Commercial Travellers’ Association of Northwestern Ontario. He passed away in the Kenora General Hospital on 4 November 1943, at age 69, and he’s buried in Hush Incline Block, Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Also buried in the cemetery are his parents, his infant twin brother and sister, and his siblings William John (1876-1954), James (1887-1931), Elizabeth (Mrs. John Bowie Smart) (1889-1949) and Madalene Martha (Mrs. Percy Clarence Devlin) (1893-1955).

By Becky Johnson

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