Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 17, 1892
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles Brownlee, father, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingChauffeur
Service Details
Regimental Number820859
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion141st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJune 27, 1916
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 5, 1956
Age at Death63
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Brownlee, Melville Edmison

Melville Edmison Brownlee was born on 17 August 1892 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. His parents were Charles and Bridget (née Shea) Brownlee who were first found on the 1891 Canada census for Algoma, Keewatin South with both listed as having been born in Ontario. Charles was working as a barber. The couple went on to have two children, Melville and a daughter Myrtle, born 25 May 1896. The family lived on Wharf Street in Keewatin and by 1911 Melville was working as an apprentice at the saw mill. Father Charles expanded his barber business as he also worked as a jeweller.

Melville enlisted in nearby Kenora on 27 June 1916, occupation given as chauffeur. With the 141st Battalion he left Kenora on 1 August 1916 for headquarters in Port Arthur, Ontario. During training in Port Arthur it was found that Melville suffered from tachycardia or rapid heart beat due to hyperthyroidism. He was also diagnosed with valvular heart disease, commonly known as heart valve malfunction. He was hospitalized twice for tonsillitis in January and February of 1917. On 30 April 1917 Melville’s service came to an end as he was found medically unfit. His official discharge came in September in Winnipeg.

After the war Melville married Ethel West, daughter of Alfred and Lily (née Green) West, on 29 May 1924 in Kenora. Ethel  had been born in Winnipeg on 9 December 1901.  Melville and Ethel  stayed in Kenora where Melville worked at Keewatin Lumber Yard, Katz Fish Market, and as a car cleaner for the CPR.  It appears that the  couple did not have any children.

After a lengthy illness Melville Brownlee died on 5 March 1956 and is interred in Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. His father Charles died in 1920 and his mother Bridget in 1922. Melville’s sister Myrtle had married John McDonald, who also served during the war, on 23 April 1919. Myrtle died in 1961. Melville’s wife Ethel stayed in Kenora and died on 30 September 1979. All are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

Melville is commemorated for his service on the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country plaque house in the Keewatin Legion.

by Judy Stockham

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