|Date of Birth||April 10, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Whitefish Bay, Lake of the Woods, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Joseph Desrosiers (father), Whitefish Bay, Kenora P.O., Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Store clerk|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Garrison Regiment|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Whitefish Bay, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||November 11, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
Private Louis Desrosiers was the son of Joseph and Hermeline Desrosiers of Whitefish Bay on Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. Joseph, a fur trader, merchant and trapper, was from Sainte-Flavie in Quebec. Hermeline/Emeline was First Nations and born in what is now northwestern Ontario. They were married on 31 January 1892, possibly in Fort Frances, Ontario, and they settled on Long Point Island on Lake of the Woods. Joseph worked at the Hudson’s Bay Post located at the eastern tip of the island. Just a short distance to the southeast of the island is Whitefish Bay First Nation Reserve, known now as Naotkamegwanning.
Joseph and Hermeline had at least nine children: Marie/Mary, Peter, Napoleon (1890), Adelard (1894), Hermeline (1895), Louis (1897), Emelie (1899), Rose Anna (1902) and Philippe/Philip (1905). Louis was born on 10 April 1897 and baptized on 29 August, as recorded in the parish registers of the Notre Dame du Portage Roman Catholic Church in Kenora. The baptisms of two of the older children, Adelard and Hermeline, were recorded in the registers of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fort Frances. Joseph raised his family on Long Point Island and his children and grandchilden attended school at Whitefish Bay Reserve. Some of Louis’ relatives lived on the reserve.
When the 1911 census was taken Louis was living at home with his parents and five of his brothers and sisters. The war started in August 1914 and conscription was introduced in Canada three years later. Louis failed to register as required and he was called up on 11 November 1917 in Winnipeg. He reported in Winnipeg on 28 March 1918 and had his medical exam a week later. He was found fit for service and assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. He contracted the measles almost immediately and spent ten days at St. Roch and St. Boniface hospitals, getting released to duty on 25 April. In June he went home on leave and while he was there he developed an abcess on his knee. He was on sick leave recovering for most of July and August before returning to his battalion in Winnipeg.
On 11 November the Armistice ended hostilities on the Western Front and about two weeks later Louis was transferred to the 10th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment. Garrison units were used to guard border crossings, bridges, factories, warehouses and other essential buildings and structures. Some units also served at internment camps. On 24 February 1919 Louis came down with the mumps and he was in the hospital until 12 March. He was discharged to duty but he probably returned home instead of reporting to his battalion. He was struck off strength (as a deserter) on 17 March 1919, having served for almost a year.
Louis was married in Kenora on 23 August 1920. His wife, Olive George, was born in the Kenora area and listed on their marriage registration as 20 years old but she was most likely about 17. Joseph, a widower, was still living on Long Point Island and Louis and Olive settled there too. Over the years Louis worked as a fisherman, trapper and guide. His brother Philip married Marie Josephine (Josie) Harrison in 1926 and they built a small log home on Long Point Island, where they lived for several years. Joseph passed away at home on 2 May 1932 and he was buried at Whitefish Bay the following day. Sadly, Louis’ wife Olive died four years later, on 3 May 1936, at age 32. The cause of death was childbirth and she’s also buried in Whitefish Bay cemetery. In August 1936 Philip’s daughter Helen died of polio, at age six. She’s interred in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
The 1963 federal voters list recorded Louis as a fisherman living at Whitefish Bay. His date of death has not been found but he is likely buried in Whitefish Bay cemetery. His brother Philip moved to the village of Sioux Narrows, about 10 km west of Whitefish Bay, and he and his wife raised two daughters, Rose and Laura. Laura married Louis Godin, the son of George Joseph Godin. Philip passed away on 15 September 1981 and he’s buried in Pineridge Cemetery in Sioux Narrows.
By Becky Johnson