Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 5, 1884
Place of BirthUxbridge, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinWife, Hazel Cooke
Trade / CallingBarrister at law
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion116th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentUxbridge, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 9, 1916
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 22, 1936
Age at Death52
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Cooke, Henry Porter

Henry Porter Cooke was born on 5 January 1884 in Uxbridge, Ontario West. His father Henry Hamilton Cooke of Belfast, Ireland had immigrated to Canada and settled in the Uxbridge area while his mother Elizabeth Bolster was born in Uxbridge, the daughter of Irish immigrants. Henry’s parents had married on 23 October 1872 in Uxbridge and by the 1891 census Henry H’s  occupation was given as civil engineer. At that time Henry, Elizabeth, and son Henry were living with Elizabeth’s father Thomas Bolster, a gentleman, in Uxbridge along with boarders Thomas and Isabella Galloway. Henry Hamilton Cooke, occupation given as gentleman, died 15 February 1899 in Uxbridge.

Henry was schooled in the public and high schools in Uxbridge and graduated from the University of Toronto in 1905 with  a BA and LLB. After attending Osgoode Hall he was called to the bar in 1908. Returning to Uxbridge  Henry practiced law with the firm of Sharpe and Cooke. In April of 1911 he was listed with the 34th Ontario Regiment, serving as Signaling Officer for a number of years prior to the war. On 19 August 1911 Henry married Hazel Margaret Jane Vicars, daughter of John and Mary (née Pirt) Vicars of Uxbridge. Their first child, Marion, was born in 1913.

Henry Porter Cooke signed his Officer Declaration Paper with the medical examination completed in Uxbridge on 9 February 1916. Married, with occupation given as barrister at law, Henry had received his majority at Petawawa in 1911 and listed former military service as 13 years with the 34th Ontario Regiment. With the 116th Battalion Major Henry Porter Cooke embarked from Halifax aboard the Olympic in July of the same year. The 116th Infantry Battalion (Uxbridge, Ontario) had been organized on 22 December 1915 with a strength of 943 men.

According to his service record, Henry arrived in Boulogne, France on 11 February 1917. At Vimy  by April of 1917, Henry was injured by a gas shell on 5 June 1917. He was admitted to No 20 General Hospital in Camiers in  late June and was invalided (sick) to England in early July. Later that month he was granted two months leave with permission to proceed to Canada, furlough extended for another month. At the recommendation of the board, he was struck off strength to be retained in Canada. According to his obituary, found unable to return to active service in France, Henry was placed in charge of the Military Service Act in Kingston.

A second child, Norah, was born to Henry and Hazel in 1918. After the war Henry’s commanding officer, Colonel Harold Machin of Kenora, also a barrister, convinced the family to move to Kenora which they did in 1919. Building their first family home on Main Street North, Henry eventually became the District Crown Attorney and town solicitor. Very active in town affairs, Henry also was at one point the commanding officer of the Kenora Light Infantry, a member of the Bar Association and Kenora Law Society, Rotary Club, Kenora Board of Trade, Golf and Country Club, Masonic Order, and the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. By all accounts, he was highly regarded within the community.

Henry Porter Cooke died on 22 April 1936 in Kenora following a short illness. He is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

Henry and Hazel’s daughter Marion attended the University of Toronto, graduating in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts. She worked briefly in the Kenora Public Library and later returned to Toronto to study Library Arts. Employed by the Toronto Public Libraries, Marian retired as Head Librarian after spending most of her career at Boy’s and Girl’s House. She later returned to Kenora and died in 2003. She is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

Daughter Norah followed in her father’s footsteps as she was a naval Nursing Sister during WW2. She met her future husband William Charleton Mundy  during the war. The couple went on to have four children, two girls and two boys. Killed in a car accident in Grand Forks, British Columbia in 1952, William is interred in nearby Nelson. Norah and the children returned to her mother and the family home in Kenora where she raised the children as she continued with her nursing.

Henry’s wife Hazel remained in Kenora and was affectionately known in the neighbourhood as Granny Cooke. Hazel died in 1968. She is buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

by Judy Stockham

photos of Henry: courtesy of granddaughter Maryanne Nilson

Cooke-Henry-Porter-2 Cooke-Henry-Porter-3 Cooke-Henry-Porter-4 Cooke-Henry-Porter-5 Cooke-Henry-Porter-6 Cooke-Henry-Porter-8 Cooke-Henry-Porter-9

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