Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of Birth1879
Place of BirthSt Mary's, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinBJ Frances, sister, Rainy River, Ontario
Trade / CallingCook
Service Details
Regimental Number658
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion8th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 24, 1914
Age at Enlistment33
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 17, 1952
Age at Death71
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Caslake, Arthur

According to his attestation papers, Arthur Caslake was born on 7 May 1881 in St Mary’s, Ontario. However it is likely that he was born as Arthur Coupland in 1879, the son of Rachel Coupland.

The 1881 Canada census for St Mary’s found Rachel and Arthur living with Rachel’s widowed mother Elizabeth Coupland. In 1884, in nearby London, Rachel married George Caslake. While living in St Mary’s where George worked as a butcher the couple gave birth to three children, Elizabeth Pearl (1895), Edna Pauline (1887), and George Wilkin (1890).

The 1891 census found Rachel and the children living with her mother in St Mary’s but by the next year the family had relocated to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) where George had found work as a railway brakeman. Children born in Rat Portage were John Augustus (1892), Albert (1895-1906), Gordon Douglas (1897), Leslie Francis (May 1900-July 1900), Lyle Harold (1901), and Rachel Grace (1903).

By the 1911 census, George, Rachel and children Gordon, Lyle, and Grace were living in Rainy River. Although Arthur was not found on the 1901 or 1911 censuses with the family, evidence confirms that he lived in both communities at some point. By 1916 most of the Caslake family had moved to Winnipeg where both Arthur (listed as adopted son) and Gordon were recorded on the census as being overseas.

With occupation given as cook and his sister Mrs BJ (Edna) Franks of Rainy River as next of kin, Arthur signed attestation papers in Valcartier, Quebec on 21 September 1914. He had completed a medical examination in Rainy River on the eighth of  August and had enlisted with the 98th Winnipeg Rifles in Winnipeg on the 13th. As a Private with the 8th Battalion, Arthur embarked from Quebec City on 1 October 1914 aboard the Franconia.

Once in England Arthur was appointed as 3rd Class Cook on October 14th. He was transferred to the 11th Battalion in February of 1915 and then on to the 32nd Reserve Battalion in May. Later that month he was on his way to France with a reinforcing draft to the 8th Battalion, taken on strength in the field on the eighth of June. In August he was appointed as cook with working pay of 50 cents per diem. In February of 1916 Arthur was attached to a tunneling company and was given a leave to England in March.

The conditions of the trenches, especially with the continual wet weather, played havoc with Arthur’s health. Dating back to November of 1915 while in the trenches in Ploegsteert, Belgium, Arthur suffered from myalgia. A slight man at 5 feet, 3 inches and 130 pounds at enlistment, Arthur’s condition became to be described as frail. He was admitted to the No 2 Canadian Field Ambulance in June of 1916 and by July had been invalided to England. He spent time convalescing in the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom and then was transferred the Canadian Red Cross Specialty Hospital at Buxton in August. Sent back to Woodcote Park in October, by the end of the month it was decided that Arthur was to be returned to Canada, discharged as medically unfit. In early December he embarked from Liverpool aboard the Northland, destination given as Winnipeg.

On 25 December 1917, in Collingwood, Ontario, Arthur married Alverna Vankoughnet, daughter of Isaac and Ella (née Wiley) Vankoughnet. Arthur’s place of residence was given as Collingwood and occupation as cook. The marriage was later announced in the Kenora Miner and News, mistakenly reporting that Arthur had been gassed at Ypres and wounded at the Somme. The couple moved to Winnipeg and gave birth to at least one child, a daughter. The marriage dissolved, with Alverna eventually moving back to Collingwood. Over the years Arthur was a member of branches of the Canadian Legion in Rainy River, and Norwood and St Boniface in Manitoba.

Arthur died in the Veterans  Home, Winnipeg Manitoba on 17 May 1952. His Veteran Death card listed his brother Lyle Caslake of Winnipeg as his next of kin.  At the time of his death Arthur was survived by three brothers Gordon, Jack and Lyle, and sisters Mrs Edna (BJ) Franks and Mrs Rachel (J) Schmaltz, as well as four grandchildren.  Arthur is interred in Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Arthur’s brother Gordon enlisted in Winnipeg with the 2nd Field Company of the Canadian Engineering Training Depot in February of 1916, leaving for Ottawa that month for training before going overseas.  Driver Gordon Caslake returned to Canada aboard the Olympic, arriving in Halifax on 13 June 1919. After the war Gordon continued to live in Winnipeg where he married and raised his family. Predeceased by his wife Beatrice, Gordon died in 1983 and is interred in the St Vital Cemetery, Winnipeg.

by Judy Stockham