Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 15, 1899
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJames Back (father), Serath, Saskatchewan
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number907679
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion195th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentRegina, Saskatchewan
Address at EnlistmentCrosswoods, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentApril 6, 1916
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 1, 1970
Age at Death79
Buried AtConsul Cemetery, Consul, Saskatchewan

Back, John Henry

Private John Henry Back was the only son of James Back and Lena Anderson. His parents were married in Rat Portage, Ontario in 1898 and he was born there on 15 May 1899. His father was from Devonshire, England and his mother was born in Sweden. Sadly, Lena died of blood poisoning in July 1900, when John was just a year old. James’ second wife, Martha Ingstrum, was from Norway. They were married in Rat Portage in 1901 and their first three children were born there: Mary Priscilla, Charlie and Alice. In 1905 the name of the town was changed from Rat Portage to Kenora. Charlie died in Kenora in an accidental drowning in July 1905, at age 21 months. He’s buried along with Lena in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

John’s family moved to Saskatchewan and at the time of the 1906 census they were living in Earl Grey, north of Regina. Another daughter, Mabel was born around 1911 and a son William followed about two years later. James took up farming and when the 1916 census was taken they were living in Serath in the R.M. of Touchwood, about 30 miles north of Earl Grey. The youngest child, son James Allen, was born in Serath on the day of the Armistice, 11 November 1918.

John was just 15 years old when the war started and he enlisted on 6 April 1916. He was almost 17 at the time but he passed himself off as a year older. He was a big lad, 6′ tall, 157 lb. with a 39′ chest. His occupation was farmer and his address Crosswoods, Saskatchewan (northeast of Serath). He joined the 195th (City of Regina) Battalion and the recruits were sent to train at Camp Hughes in Manitoba that summer. John’s medical exam at Camp Hughes noted he had a hernia which pre-existed his enlistment and he declined to have the recommended surgery. He was discharged at Camp Hughes on 22 September 1916, due to being medically unfit.

Sometime after his service John and his brother William both settled in the village of Consul, in southwestern Saskatchewan. William took up farming and John worked as labourer. Their mother Martha died in 1926 and their father James in 1953. They are buried in Raymore Cemetery, just north of Serath. John passed away in 1978, at age 79, and he’s buried in Consul Cemetery.

John’s brother James served in the Second World War then returned to the Back family homestead in Serath, where he and his wife Caroline farmed for almost forty years. He passed away in Regina in 2013, at age 94, and he’s buried at Riverside Memorial Park.

By Becky Johnson

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