|Date of Birth||January 25, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Rat Portage (Kenora), Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Edward Bellefeuille, father, Kenora Post Office, Ontario, Canada|
|Trade / Calling||Woodsman|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Place of Enlistment||Port Arthur, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Flanders Post Office, Ontario, Canada|
|Date of Enlistment||May 3, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||22|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 14, 1974|
|Age at Death||78|
|Buried At||Little Falls Cemetery, Atikokan, Ontario|
Arthur Joseph Williard Bellefeuille was born on 25 January 1896 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. His father Ebenezer Bellefeuille (aka Albini, Edward) was from the Pembroke area in Ontario. According to his later obituary Ebenezer relocated to the Rat Portage area in 1884, his parents and some of his siblings later following. Arthur’s mother Aurelie Poirier was from the Rimouski area in Quebec, moving to northwestern Ontario with her parents as a child. Ebenezer and Aurelie married on 1 September 1890 in Rat Portage. Children born to the couple were Ida Marie in 1891, sadly only living for six days, followed by Marie Henriette (Etta) in 1894 and Arthur. Over the years Ebenezer worked for various logging and mining companies and was also a steamboat captain as was his brother Gabriel.
With the onset of conscription during the latter part of the war, drafted under the Military Services Act of 1917 Arthur signed his recruitment papers on 3 May 1918 in Port Arthur, Ontario. He had been living in the area near Flanders, Ontario, a small community about 45 kilometres west of Atikokan in northwestern Ontario. His date of birth was given as 20 January 1896, occupation as woodsman, and his father Edward back in Kenora as next of kin. Standing 5 foot five, Arthur had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and light brown hair. He had had his medical examination on 17 April 1918 at Fort Osborne (A2).
Joining the H Company of the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment, Arthur was transferred to the 65th Draft of the Manitoba Regiment in mid June. With the Draft, he embarked from Montreal aboard the City of Vienna on June 28th. Unfortunately the ship wrecked/was grounded 12 miles off the coast of Halifax on the morning of July 2nd and the passengers were quartered at Mewburn Barracks in Halifax until embarking aboard the Thangwa on July 10th. He arrived in England on 22 July, taken on strength with the 18th Reserve Battalion at Seaford upon arrival. By mid October Arthur was struck off strength and drafted to the 8th Battalion, joining the unit in the field on the 26th. The battalion had been authorized on 10 August 1914 and embarked for England on 1 October 1914. It disembarked in France on 13 February 1915 where it fought as part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division in France and Flanders. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918 and ended with the Armistice. The Canadians were heavily involved in operations in those last three months.
After the Armistice the 8th Battalion took part in the March to the Rhine and the occupation of Germany, returning to England in late March of 1919. Arthur embarked for Canada aboard the Empress of Britain on 26 April and was discharged from service on demobilization on 7 May in Winnipeg, rank of Private. His intended residence on discharge was given as Kenora.
By the time of the 1921 Canada census, Arthur was living in a logging camp in the Beaverhouse Lake area in northwestern Ontario about seventy kilometres southwest of Atikokan, occupation given as log man on the census. Voters Lists for 1945, 1949, and 1953 placed him back in the Flanders area, occupation of trapper given on the lists. According to local residence Anita Poirier, she remembered Arthur living on one of the abandoned alligator boats on Clearwater West Lake where her family camped, Arthur great with the kids. His later obituary suggested that he had lived in a cabin near Flanders for fifteen years or so before moving into Atikokan in about 1969 where he lived at the Rockton Hotel. Over the years Arthur became known as the Hermit of Clearwater Lake West.
Arthur died on 14 July 1974 at his residence in the hotel. He was predeceased by his infant sister, his mother Aurelie (1938), and father Ebenezer (1945), all interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Arthur’s sister Etta had married Elden Logie in 1914 in Kenora, later marrying George Rufus McKay. Etta died in 1966 in Vancouver, final resting place Ocean View Burial Park. Arthur is interred in the military section in the Little Falls Cemetery in Atikokan.
By Judy Stockham
Painting of the alligator boat that Arthur lived on by Anita Poirier.
Grave marker photograph by Patricia Byrne, findagrave.com.
Many thanks to Michael McKinnon of the Atikokan Progress for submitting Arthur’s name to the project and providing information about him as well as his obituary.