Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 1, 1895
Place of BirthRugby, Warwickshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFather John Drew, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingPacker
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number820802
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion141st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJune 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 21, 1982
Age at Death87
Buried AtCremation by North Shore Crematorium, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Drew, George

The son of John and Elizabeth (née Page) Drew, George Drew was born on 1 May 1895 in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. For the 1901 England census the family was living in Gorleston, Norfolk, England, father’s occupation given as engine driver. The children listed with the parents in the census were Elizabeth, Sarah, Ellen, George, and William. Probably because mother Elizabeth was originally from Wales, by the 1911 census the family was living in Leansamlet, Glamorgan, Wales, occupation for John JR given as tube tester for a steel tube manufacturing company. His father was working as a locomotive driver and  George was working as a tool boy for the Railway Contractor. Other children had now joined the family: Amy, James Henry, and Albert Edward. Over the years, as evidenced by the birth places of the children, the family had also lived in Crediton, Merionethshire, Wales (Elizabeth); Llanwddyn, Montgomery, Wales (Ellen); Rugby, Warwickshire, England (George); Doehill, Derbyshire, England, (William);  Great Bealings, Wiltshire, England (Amy); and Hever, Kent, England (James and Albert).

In May of 1912 John Drew embarked for Canada aboard the Laurentic, destination of Keewatin and occupation given as steel worker with intended occupation in Canada as at the flour mills. In June of 1913  father John and George immigrated to Keewatin, followed by  their mother and siblings Elizabeth, Sarah, Ellen, William, Amy, James, and Albert in December.

George signed his attestation papers in Keewatin on 15 June 1916, occupation listed as packer (Lake of the Woods Milling Company). Based in Fort Frances, Ontario, the 141st Battalion  had begun recruiting in late 1915 in the Rainy River district of northern Ontario.  The 141st, with George and a number of other men from the Kenora/Keewatin area on board, embarked  for England in April of 1917, and once there the battalion was absorbed into the 18th Reserve Battalion on 7 May  1917. By the end of the year George was serving in France at the No 1 Canadian Veterinary Hospital. He was found on the passenger list of the Minnekahda that arrived back in Canada on 23 May 1919, rank and unit given as Trooper with the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps.

At some point once back in Canada George married Cora May Bird, daughter of Charles and Alice (Evans) Bird, who had been born in Chatham, Ontario. Charles was a merchant. George and Cora  resided in the Vancouver/Burnaby, British Columbia area where George worked as a shipper for a flour mill. They had at least three known children, two sons and a daughter. Predeceased by Cora in 1967 in Vancouver, George died on 25 May 1982 in nearby Burnaby. Cremation was by North Shore Crematorium, Vancouver.

George Drew is commemorated on the  Municipality of Keewatin plaque that honours all of its citizens that served during the war, on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, and on the Roll of Honour for St James Anglican Church. In August of 1919, the town held a demonstration to honour these veterans and casualties, with the mayor  presenting them or their next of kin with medals and badges.  George’s brother John Drew enlisted in Valcartier, Quebec in September of 1914, serving overseas with the 8th Battalion. Awarded the Military Medal on 16 May 1916 for his actions in caring for the wounded at Vimy, John was killed in action on 28 April 1917 while carrying out duties as a stretcher bearer. He is interred in the Orchard Dump Cemetery near Arras, France.

George’s mother Elizabeth died in Keewatin on 28 January 1945 and his father two years later on 25 November 1947. They are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. The rest of his siblings also stayed in Keewatin/Kenora, most marrying, raising their families, and eventually interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery: Elizabeth (William Boyd), Sarah (Mark Hawkins), Ellen (Earle Brott), William (Jean McLay), Amy (Henry Defoort), James (Olive Moore), and Albert.

by Judy Stockham

Drew-George-2 Drew-George-3 Drew-George-4 Drew-George-5 Drew-George-6 Drew-George-7 Drew-George-8 Drew-George-9
obituary: courtesy of Mike Melen
photo of St James Memorial: courtesy of the now defunct church

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