Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 24, 1898
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJoseph Belanger (father), 240 Rousseau Street, Transcona, Manitoba
Trade / CallingWelder
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number2384028
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentPort Arthur, Ontario
Address at Enlistment240 Rousseau Street, Transcona, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentMay 10, 1918
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 15, 1965
Age at Death67
Buried AtHillside Cemetery, Kamloops, British Columbia
PlotSection Y, Row 25, Lot 6, Sub Lot W/Lower

Belanger, Alfred Leon

Private Alfred Leon Belanger enlisted in the spring of 1918 and served overseas for eight months. He returned to Canada with his unit, the 52nd Battalion, in March 1919.

Alfred was the son of Joseph Belanger and Adelaide Fisher of St. Boniface, Manitoba. Joseph was from Quebec and Adelaide was born and raised in Manitoba. They were married in St. Boniface in 1882 and their first three children – Blanche, Rosy and Josephine – were born in Manitoba. Around 1890 the family moved to the village of Norman, near Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario. Joseph found work there in a sawmill. He and his wife had at least two more daughters and four sons but several of the children died young. Alfred was born on 24 April 1898 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), and he was their youngest surviving son. By 1901 the family was living in the nearby town of Keewatin, where Joseph worked as a sawyer in a factory. They were still in Keewatin at the time of the 1911 census, with only two children at home, Joseph, age 17, and Alfred, age 13. By the time Alfred enlisted in 1918 he was living with his father in Transcona, which is now part of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Conscription started in Canada in 1917 and men aged 20 to 34 were called up that fall. Alfred was still only 19 and he enlisted the following spring, two weeks after his 20th birthday. He signed up in Port Arthur, Ontario on 10 May 1918, joining ‘H’ Company of the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. In early June he became ill with tonsillitis and he spent several days in Port Arthur General Hospital. On 15 June he was transferred to the 65th Draft of the Manitoba Regiment and he headed overseas three weeks later, embarking on 6 July on the SS Tunisian. He arrived in London, England on 22 July and he was taken on strength with the 18th Reserve Battalion the same day.

The final period of the war started on 8 August 1918 and the Canadians were heavily involved in those last three months. On 16 October Alfred was drafted to the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion and he arrived in France two days later. The 52nd had been organized in the spring of 1915 in Port Arthur and originally recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. When Alfred joined the unit around the end of October they were near Valenciennes, France, close to the Belgian border, and advancing northeast. The Armistice was signed on 11 November and they entered the town of Mons, Belgium that afternoon. The battalion spent the next three months in Belgium. On 5 February 1919 they entrained for the coast, embarking from Le Havre, France on 10 February and landing in England the next day. The battalion was sent to Bramshott Camp and most of the men were immediately given leave. After five weeks in England they left for Canada on the SS Olympic on 17 March. There was a huge reception for the men when they arrived in Port Arthur and the unit was demobilized there at the end of the month. Alfred was discharged in Port Arthur on 31 March.

When the 1921 census was taken Alfred was living with his father in Transcona and working for the CNR. He was married about a year later to 18-year-old Malvina Leona Brunelle (Brunel). Malvina also lived in Transcona, just a few streets over from Alfred. Her parents were Gedeon Brunelle and Adele Poisson. Around 1924 Alfred and Malvina moved to the US. When the 1930 US census was taken they were living in Burton Township, Michigan and they had two children, Marie, age 7, born in Canada and Henry, age 6, born in Michigan. They later had two more sons, Robert Lee, born in 1933 in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, and Patrick.

Around 1948 Alfred and his wife moved to Kamloops, British Columbia. At first he worked as a watchman for a large sawmill company then later as a stationary engineer at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. His son Robert Lee drowned in 1953, at age 20, while trying to rescue someone from the South Thompson River. Alfred retired in 1963 and he passed away at home on 15 August 1965, at age 67. His wife died in 1998, at age 94. Alfred, Malvina and their son Robert are all buried in Hillside Cemetery in Kamloops.

By Becky Johnson

  Belanger-Alfred-90

Grave marker photo courtesy of Terry James, findagrave.com.

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