Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 16, 1892
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinLuke John Dobson (father), Midland, Ontario
Trade / CallingFarmer
Service Details
Regimental Number100349
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion49th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJuly 3, 1915
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 26, 1939
Age at Death47
Buried AtMount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario
PlotSection 38, Plot P, Lot 12

Dobson, Jabez Roy

Private Jabez Roy Dobson enlisted in Edmonton in July 1915 and served in France and Belgium with the 49th Battalion. He was wounded at the Somme in September 1916 and invalided back to Canada five months later to continue his medical treatment.

Jabez was the oldest son of Luke John Dobson and Mary Irwin of Midland, Simcoe County, Ontario. Luke was born in Midland and Mary in Tyrone, Ireland. They were married in Hagerman Township, District of Parry Sound in November 1887. They had six children between 1890 and 1905: Eva Isabella (died at age 7), Jabez Roy, Frederick Thomas, Herman Lloyd, Wilfred John and Elma Jane. Four of the children were born in Midland. Jabez was born on 16 August 1892 in the town of Rat Portage, Ontario, now known as Kenora. Luke was a butcher but during the family’s short stay in Rat Portage he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The youngest child, Elma, was born in North Bay, Ontario in 1905. The family returned to Midland and Mary died there in 1910, at age 42.

When the 1911 census was taken Jabez was 18 years old and farming in Strathcona, Alberta, just south Edmonton. Around that time he also joined a militia unit, the 101st Edmonton Fusiliers. The war started in August 1914 and he enlisted the following summer, signing up in Edmonton on 3 July 1915. He joined the 66th Battalion (Edmonton Guards) and they trained at Sarcee Camp near Calgary during the summer and fall, returning to their Edmonton barracks for the winter. In November Jabez was ill and he had his tonsils removed at a hospital in Edmonton. The battalion left for the east coast in the spring and embarked from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 28 April 1916. They arrived in England on 7 May. Just a month later Jabez was transferred to a front line unit, the 49th Battalion, and sent to France. The battalion was in the 7th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. Jabez joined them in the field just as the Battle of Mount Sorrel was ending.

The 49th Battalion arrived in the Somme area in early September and on 15 September they took part in an assault near the village of Courcelette. Their position was heavily shelled and the unit suffered about 250 casualties in two days. Jabez was one of the wounded on 16 September, hit by shell fragments in his left leg and his side. After lying in a trench for more than a full day he was taken to a casualty clearing station and from there to No. 10 General Hospital in Rouen, where he was listed as seriously ill with gas gangrene. He had lost most of the muscle on his left calf ‘leaving artery and bare bone’ and there was nerve damage to his leg and foot. After a few days in Rouen he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship St. Andrew and on 28 September he was admitted to Dundee War Hospital in Dundee, Scotland.

Jabez had skin grafts at the hospital but they weren’t successful. By late December he was up on crutches and on 13 January 1917 he was moved to King’s Canadian Red Cross Convalescent Hospital at Bushy Park. He sailed for Canada on 19 February on the SS Essequibo and his treatment continued at the Military Orthopaedic Hospital in Toronto. On 5 February 1918 he re-attested so he could receive further treatment and he underwent three more skin grafts. He became an outpatient on 13 December 1918 and he was discharged from service as medically unfit on 31 December. He settled in Toronto and received a veteran’s pension due to his disability. His brother Herman Lloyd Dobson also enlisted in 1915 and he served overseas with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

In 1919 Jabez passed the civil service exam and he was employed by the federal government as a postal clerk. He was married in Toronto on 27 May 1919 to Catherine Wilkie MacIntosh. Catherine was born on 30 December 1882 in Dundee, Scotland, the daughter of James Robertson McIntosh (MacIntosh) and Georgina Sibbald. She had at least two sisters, Susan and Georgina, and her mother died in 1890. Catherine arrived in Canada on 22 May, five days before the wedding, on her way to Toronto. Jabez and Catherine’s first child, Herman Lloyd MacIntosh Dobson, was born in Toronto on 7 August 1920. When the 1921 census was taken Jabez and Catherine were living in York Township, on the outskirts of Toronto, and he was employed as a postal clerk.

In July 1922 Jabez and his family went on an extended trip to Scotland. Jabez returned in the fall of 1923 and Catherine and Herman came home the following spring. A son Ronald was born sometime after that. By 1934 Jabez was retired and listed as pensioned in the federal voters’ list. Sadly, their son Herman died in an accident on 16 October 1936, at age 16. He was on his bicycle, working as a delivery boy for a lending library, when he collided with a car. He passed away at Toronto East General Hospital. Jabez died three years later, on 26 October 1939, at age 47. He’s buried with his son in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

By Becky Johnson

Grave marker photo courtesy of Islington on Findagrave.

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