Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 8, 1863
Place of BirthCupar, County of Fife
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinBertha L. Robertson (wife), 4413 - 14th Avenue, Point Grey, British Columbia
Trade / CallingLumberman
Service Details
Regimental Number1037193
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 14 Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Foresty Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Address at Enlistment4413 - 14th Avenue, Point Grey, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentJuly 26, 1916
Age at Enlistment52
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 3, 1954
Age at Death91
Buried AtOcean View Burial Park, Burnaby, British Columbia

Robertson, William

Corporal William Robertson was 52 years old when he enlisted in July 1916. He served in France with the Canadian Forestry Corps and returned to Canada in December 1917.

William was born on 8 November 1863 in Cupar, County of Fife, Scotland. His wife, Bertha Louisa Thompson, was born in Lancashire, England. They were married in Walton-on-the-Hill, Lancashire on 12 April 1884. William was working as an office clerk at the time. Their daughter Mildred, the first of at least 13 children, was born in Walton-on-the-Hill in 1885. When Mildred was still an infant the family immigrated to Canada and settled in the North-West Territories, in what would become the province of Saskatchewan. Two children were born there, Eleanora (1886) and John (1888). William and Bertha’s next daughter, Edith, was born in Syracuse, New York in 1889. After that they lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba for a couple of years where they had two more girls, Bertha (1891, died at age 5 months) and Marion (1892). When the 1891 census was taken William was a bookkeeper for a dry goods business.

From Winnipeg William and his wife moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario, where seven children were added to the family: Edmund (1893), James (1894), Mary (1895), Stuart (1897), Alan (1899), Olive (1900) and Malcolm (1902). Two of the boys died in Rat Portage, Edmund as an infant and Alan at age four. They are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Lumbering was a major industry in northwestern Ontario and William was a bookkeeper and accountant for a local lumber company. Around 1909 the family moved once again, this time to Vancouver. The Rat Portage Lumber Company owned mills in British Columbia and William was one of several employees who relocated there from Kenora. When the 1911 census was taken he and his family were living in Point Grey.

Two of William’s sons enlisted early in the war, Stuart Robertson in September 1914 and James McLaren Robertson in November. William enlisted in the summer of 1916, signing up on 26 July in Vancouver and joining the 238th Battalion, a forestry unit. He was 52 years old, his occupation was lumberman and he said he had served with a militia unit, the 30th B.C. Horse. Next of kin was his wife Bertha in Point Grey. Just a few weeks later William was on his way overseas with his battalion, embarking from Halifax on 13 September on the SS Scandinavian and arriving in England about ten days later. His son James was in France by then and in October he was reported missing and presumed killed at the Somme while serving with the 16th Battalion.

In late November William was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps and sent to France. He was posted to No. 14 Company and he served with them for about six months. His company was in No. 2 District and headquartered at Conches. In June 1917 William became ill and he was admitted to No. 12 General Hospital in Rouen. He was suffering from a heart condition as well as strained muscles in his lower back. On 22 July he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship St. George. He recovered for about three weeks at the 3rd Scottish General Hospital in Glasgow followed by three weeks at a convalescent depot.

William was discharged to duty on 5 October but a short time later it was decided that he would be sent back to Canada due to being medically unfit and overage. He sailed from Liverpool on 7 December 1917 on the SS Justicia, arriving in Canada via New York about a week later. He was discharged on 13 February 1918 in New Westminster, British Columbia. His son Stuart served with the 16th Battalion and returned to Canada in May 1919.

When the 1921 census was taken William and his wife were living in Victoria where he was working as a clerk for the provincial government. Bertha died later that same year in Calgary, Alberta. William moved back to Vancouver and retired around 1925. He passed away in Shaughnessy Hospital on 3 December 1954, at age 91. William and Bertha are both buried at Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby. Stuart died in 1967, at age 70, and he’s also interred there.

By Becky Johnson


Grave marker photo courtesy of Robertson public family tree on; obituary courtesy of Mike Melen.

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