Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 4, 1884
Place of BirthWinnipeg, Manitoba
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs. W.S. Drewery (wife), c/o Redwood Factories, Boyd Avenue East, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingManufacturer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion10th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistmentc/o Redwood Factories, Boyd Avenue East, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJune 1, 1915
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 9, 1947
Age at Death63
Buried AtSt. John's Anglican Cathedral Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Drewry, William Starkey

Captain William Starkey Drewry spent more than a year overseas with the 61st and 10th Battalions. After being invalided back to Canada in 1917 he served as a recruitment officer in the U.S.

William grew up in a prominent and wealthy family in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His father, Edward Lancaster Drewry, was originally from London, England. Edward immigrated to the U.S. with his parents as a child and they settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. Edward was married in St. Paul in 1874 to Eliza Lile Starkey. He and his wife spent about two years in Pembina, North Dakota before moving to Winnipeg in 1877. William, the sixth of their nine children, was born in Winnipeg on 4 July 1884. Edward operated a very successful brewery company and he was also active in politics and had many other business interests. He served on the Winnipeg city council and he was a member of the legislature for three years. In 1910 he was listed in a local newspaper as one of the city’s 19 millionaires.

William attended St. John’s College in Winnipeg then the University of Toronto (Class of 1905) and McGill. He worked as a superintendent and chemist in the family’s brewery business. He was married in Winnipeg on 21 April 1908 to Georgina Mary Locke. Georgina was born in Nelson, Manitoba and grew up in Morden, the daughter of Judge Corbet Locke and his wife Esther. William and Georgina had two sons, both born in Winnipeg: Corbet Lancaster in 1909 and William Edward in 1911.

William enlisted with the 61st (Winnipeg) Battalion on 1 June 1915, getting a commission as Captain and reporting for duty in mid-August. He had already served for three years with the militia, including a year as a Lieutenant with the 34th Fort Garry Horse. The 61st Battalion trained at Camp Hughes during the summer and fall, then in Winnipeg over the winter. They were sent overseas in the spring, embarking from Halifax in early April 1916 on the SS Olympic. Georgina and the two boys moved to England two months later, arriving from New York on 12 June on the SS St. Paul. They lived at 1 Hillside Villa in Sandgate, Kent.

In early August William was transferred to the 10th Battalion (Canadians) and sent to France, where he served as Transport Officer. Later that month his unit was at the Battle of Hill 70 near Lens and in October the Canadians were sent to the Ypres Salient for the assault on Passchendaele. William had ten days leave at the end of November and his unit spent the winter back in the Lens-Arras sector. William reported sick on 18 January 1917 and four days later he was admitted to No. 20 General Hospital in Camiers, suffering from recurring abdominal pain. Before enlisting he’d had two operations, an appendectomy and an operation for gall stones. He was invalided to England on the HS Warilda and he spent ten days at Pollock Hospital in London. From there he was moved to Granville Special Canadian Hospital in Ramsgate.

In mid-March William was transferred to the casualty list and given three weeks leave. He was recommended for duty in Canada and he embarked on 12 August 1917 on Troopship No. 2810 (SS Olympic). Georgina and the boys had returned home in April on the same ship. William was appointed as Officer Commanding for the British Canadian Recruiting Mission in Minneapolis and he served there until September 1918. For at least some of that time his wife and sons lived in Peoria, Illinois. In September he returned to Military District No. 10 (Manitoba), where he was assigned to the Corps of Reserves. He was discharged on demobilization on 30 April 1919.

William and his wife settled back in Winnipeg and he returned to work as a superintendent at the family brewery. He left the position around 1923 and his business interests took him to Kenora, Ontario. His uncle George Drewry had been living there since the 1880s, operating a hotel and later a wholesale liquor and wine business. William stayed at the Tourist Hotel in Kenora and joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion, but he maintained his residence in Winnipeg. Sadly, his wife Georgina passed away in November 1934, at age 49. Their son Corbet was a lawyer and he had married Mary Whitley of Toronto earlier that year. Their other son William Edward married Mary’s sister Norah and both boys made their home in Toronto.

Around 1937 William started working for Regal Investments and he married again in 1939. His second wife was Gertrude Tetreault and the wedding took place in St. Boniface at the home of her parents, Louis and Anna Tetreault. William’s mother had passed away in 1922 and his father followed in 1940. William died in Winnipeg on 9 July 1947, a few days after his 63rd birthday. He is buried in the Drewry family plot at St. John’s Cemetery.

William is commemorated on the University of Toronto Roll of Service 1914-1918.

By Becky Johnson

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