Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 15, 1896
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSim [Simeon] Barnhardt, (father), Sprague, Manitoba
Trade / CallingRancher
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number633
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion8th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 22, 1914
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19560602
Age at Death60
Buried AtOld General Cemetery, Cranbrook, British Columbia
PlotRoyal Canadian Legion Section

Barnhardt, Charles Nelson

Early Life and Family:    Charles Nelson Barnhardt was born on January 15, 1896 to Simeon and Margaret Barnhardt in Kenora, Ontario. They had only recently moved from Southern Ontario.      Although the ancestral background of the Barnhardts was German, Simeon Ashley was born in Ontario, September 8, 1864. His father and grandfather Barnhardt were also born in Ontario. Margaret Jane Jenkins, whose ancestral background was Irish, was born in Lansdowne, Ontario, August 20, 1866. Her parents were both born in Ireland and moved to Canada by the 1881 Canadian Census. Simeon and Margaret were married in Gravenhurst, Aurora Township, District of Muskoka, Ontario, February 27, 1889. Simeon was Railway Brakeman at the time.

By the 1901 census, the Barnhardt family had moved to the Yale and Cariboo area, sub-district of Kootenay, British Columbia (B.C.) at which time Simeon had become a Railway Conductor. The family was Church of England in their faith.    At this time, the known children, born in different locations in Ontario and British Columbia are:    Annie (c1890); Enid (c1892); Albert (c1894); Charles (c1896); Nathan (c1899); Mary (c1900). In the 1911 census, the family, with Margaret as Head of Household, is also living in the same location in B.C. Another son, Edward, was born about 1903; however, Simeon, Annie and Enid are not recorded living with the family.

Prior to his enlistment, Charles was with the 90th militia (Winnipeg Rifles) and listed his occupation as a rancher.

War experience:    Charles  enlisted September 22, 1914 with the 8th Battalion at Val Cartier, Quebec. He named his father, who was living in Sprague, Manitoba, as next of kin. Charles sailed on the ‘S.S. Franconia’ out of Quebec City on October 19, 1914. He arrived ‘overseas’, referring to France, on February 10, 1915 and was on the Nominal Roll in France on April 1, 1915. On February 7th, 1916, while in the field, Charles was appointed Lance Corporal and on June 21, was promoted to Corporal.

Charles must have thought he had nine lives.    On July 4, 1916, he received a gunshot wound to his right hand at Century Wood, Ypres, and was transferred to the Infirmary and later to the Western General Hospital in Liverpool where his trigger finger (second finger on his right hand) had to be amputated.    Once healed, he returned to battle. His right hand and arm were once again wounded and treated at Monk’s Horton. Then, on August 10th, 1918, Charles received a gunshot wound in his back and was admitted to Kitchener Hospital in Brighton on August 18th. On the 3rd of September, he was transferred to the Princess Patricia Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Cooden Camp, in Bexhill. Charles was treated for two wounds, one on his left side and the other wound was to his spine.

By the end of the war, Charles’s rank had reverted to Private.    He returned to Canada, sailing out of Liverpool on the ‘S.S. Scandinavian’ and was discharged, due to demobilization, on August 15, 1919 in Quebec.    His War Service badge Number is 328429.

On January 9, 1918, while at Dibgate, England, he was given permission to marry Elsie Spray who lived at 162 Old Lane, Hollington, St. Leonard’s on Lea, Sussex. A son, Nelson Charles, was later born in England. Elsie and Nelson moved to Cranbrook, B.C., arriving in 1919.

Nathan, a younger brother of Charles, also served in World War 1. Born in Kenora, he enlisted in  Victoria, B.C. on  May 19, 1916 and was placed with the 2nd Depot Battalion, B.C. Regiment.

Life after the war:  When Charles was discharged, the military recorded his trade as Teamster.  At the time of the 1921 Canadian census, Charles, Elsie and their 3 year old son, Nelson, were living in Cranbrook where Charles was working as a general labourer. Elsie’s birth year is given as 1899 and she is working as a saleswoman.

Coincidentally, in the 1921 census, there is also a Charles Nelson Barnhardt, age 25, married, who was a prisoner in the Nelson Penitentiary, District of Cranbrook. There is no available information to determine if they are one and the same person intentionally being recorded in two locations.

Charles and his wife, identified as Mrs. Charles Barnhardt, are listed in the 1940 Canada Voters’ List, living in Cranbrook. At the time of his death, Charles had been working as a labourer in the Cartage and Transfer industry for 44 years.    He had lived in B.C. 55 years.

Date of death and burial location:  Charles died of coronary occlusion, June 2, 1956 in Cranbrook.    He is buried in the Royal Canadian Legion section of the Cranbrook Old General Cemetery.    Elsie died before her husband but is not buried with him.    There appears to have been another son, Edward Ashley, born 1926 and died 1995. His name is placed on the bottom of the gravestone of Charles.

Prepared by Susan [Hillman] Brazeau in support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died.


Birth Registrations of Ontario (available on

Canadian Census:   1901, 1911, 1921

Canada Voters’ List 1940

Library and Archives Canada: First World War Soldiers

Death Certificate: British Columbia Archives

FindAGrave online resource (gravemarker photo courtesy of Judith)

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