Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 12, 1896
Place of BirthToronto, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinHerbert Chalmers, foster parents, Belleville, Ontario
Trade / CallingRanching
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number808474
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion31st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentDidsbury, Alberta
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 8, 1916
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 1, 1959
Age at Death63
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Baker, William

William Baker was born on 12 January 1896 in Ontario.  It is believed that his parents were George and Margaret Baker who were living in Toronto with William and his brother, Francis, at the time of the 1901 Canadian Census. His father died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1902. By the 1911 Census, William was the adopted son of Herbert and Mary Chalmers and was living on their farm in Adolphuston Township, Lennox County, Ontario.  Apparently he had been in an orphanage in Belleville where Mary Chalmers worked.

When William enlisted with the 137th  Battalion in Calgary, Alberta on 08 February 1916, he indicated that he was born in Toronto, his date of birth as 16 January 1896, and his next of kin was ‘foster parent, Herbert Chalmers of Belleville, Ontario’.  William was engaged in ranching at the time.

William’s unit sailed from Halifax on 22 August 1916 aboard the S.S. Olympic.  When they arrived in England William was transferred to the 31st Battalion (Alberta Regiment) and he was in France by the end of November 1916.  The following summer the Canadians were at the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917). The 31st Battalion was in reserve for the first few days and didn’t take part in the assault but William was temporarily attached to the 6th Field Company Canadian Engineers at the time, along with 24 other men from his unit. On 16 August, the second day of the battle, he received a severe gunshot wound to his right leg. He was returned to England and treated in hospitals in Manchester and Epsom until 17 July 1918. William then spent two months in the Canadian Special Hospital in Witley being treated for venereal disease.  While in hospital he met Lillian (Elizabeth) Drake, an Irish lass, who came to the hospital to sing to the patients.   William was attached to the 21st Reserve Battalion in England until his return to Canada in April of 1919.  He received his official discharge on 25 April 1919 in Kingston, Ontario due to demobilization.

William returned to Southern Ontario.  On 23 September 1920 Lillian (Elizabeth) Drake arrived in Canada.  Her passage on the Metagama had been paid for by William who was waiting for her in Rednersville, Ontario.  She listed her reason for coming as ‘to be married’. Just six days later, on September 29th, William and Lillian were married in Belleville, Ontario. The 1921 Canadian Census shows they were living in Ameliasburgh, Ontario where William was a farmer. Not long after that they moved to Carman, Manitoba and two children – Sheilah and Desmond – were born.  In 1926 the family moved to Keewatin, Ontario and William began working for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company.  Three more children arrived – Ron, Doreen and Dennis.  Tragedy struck on 28 November 1931 when seven year old Desmond drown while sliding near Keewatin Beach.

William worked for the flour mill in Keewatin for 30 years, retiring in October of 1958 due to ill health. His obituary notes that he was a sports leader and a community worker.  He was manager of the Keewatin Millers, president of the Kenora-Keewatin District Baseball League, and president of the Keewatin Ball Club. He served on Council for the Town of Keewatin and along with Father Laliberte, established the Keewatin Credit Union.  William was a member of St. Louis Roman Catholic Church of Keewatin and the United Packing House Workers of America (Local 564).

At age 63, William died on 01 February 1959.  He is interred in the Roman Catholic Section of the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

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