|Date of Birth||July 19, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||James Begg, father, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Place of Enlistment||Port Arthur, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||January 10, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 11, 1997|
|Age at Death||99|
Duncan Begg was born on 19 July 1897 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. He was the son of James and Jemina (née Muggaberg) Begg. Originally from Selkirk/St Andrews, Manitoba, the couple had married 27 August 1891 in Rat Portage. James had moved to the area in 1888, employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a bookkeeper at the Northwest Angle. Jemina had moved to Rat Portage with her parents in the mid 1880s. By the 1901 Canada census the family had grown and included James and Jemina, and children Hattie, James, Duncan, and Thomas. A child Arthur was born in August of 1892 but had died in October of 1893. At the time of Arthur’s death James’ occupation was listed as teamster. By the 1911 Canada census there were new additions to the family, Kathleen, Ada, Doris, and Wilfred. Two more children were later born, Ernest in 1913 and Isabel in 1915.
With occupation given as labourer and his father James in Kenora as next of kin, Duncan signed his recruitment papers in Port Arthur on 10 January 1918. He had had his medical examination the previous November in Kenora. With the 3rd Draft of the 1st Battalion Manitoba Regiment, Private Duncan Begg embarked from Halifax aboard the SS Cretic on 19 February 1918.
Once in England Duncan was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion until the 21st of June when he was struck off strength on proceeding overseas to the 78th Battalion. He joined the unit in early July where he was to serve for the duration of the war, including the Hundred Days Offensive, the final period of the war during which the Allies launched a series of offensives against the Central Powers on the Western Front from 8 August to 11 November 1918, beginning with the Battle of Amiens. The offensive essentially pushed the Germans out of France, forcing them to retreat beyond the Hindenburg Line, and was followed by the armistice. Duncan was granted a fourteen day leave in late March of 1919 and returned to England with the battalion in May. By the end of the month Duncan was on his way back to Canada, embarking from Liverpool aboard the Adriatic on the 31st.
Duncan spent the better part of his life on the farm where he could be found working on the land or with his horses. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hunting and fishing. Throughout his many years he was able to work with and witness the many changes of the world, from delivering coal and wood by horse for Murphy Brothers to the reconstruction of the Kenora paper mill.
On 10 October 1944 Duncan married Rose Marie Shear who had been born in 1898 in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. Predeceased by Rose in 1956, Duncan died on 11 March 1997, just months shy of his 100th birthday. ‘Duncan had a zest for life and enjoyed life to the fullest. He may be remembered for a joke, a prank, or a song strummed or sang but most surely he will be remembered with a smile.’ Kenora Miner and News, March 1997
photographs courtesy of Carole Miller