Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 3, 1889
Place of BirthToronto, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFred Fawcett, half-brother, Pickering PO, Ontario
Trade / CallingCPR Station Agent
ReligionMethodist
Service Details
Regimental Number3033488
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion19th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentRR1, Whitby, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 31, 1918
Age at Enlistment28
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 9, 1939
Age at Death49

Fawcett, John Middleton

John Middleton Fawcett was born on 3 December 1889 in Toronto, Ontario, birth date confirmed by his Ontario birth record. His father William Fawcett was from the Pickering, Ontario area where he had been farming and his mother Sarah Ann Richards was from Darlington. The couple married on 26 December 1888 in Pickering. At the time of John’s birth the family was living on Sackville Street close to the waterfront in downtown Toronto where William was working as a shipper. Sadly, Sarah died 7 days after John’s birth. It appears that John was raised by his maternal grandmother Mary Richards as found on the 1891 and 1901 censuses for Pickering Township. His father William married widow Mary Jane (née Duggan) Galpin in Toronto in September of 1903, his residence given as Pickering and hers as Copper Cliff. Mary Jane had immigrated to Canada along with her young daughter Lillian in 1902 following the death of her husband Alfred in 1900, a casualty of the Boer War. William and Mary Jane gave birth to a son Frederick in 1904. John’s father William died in 1913 in Pickering where he had been farming.

By the 1911 census John was living in Fort William, Ontario where he was working as a telegraph operator for the Canadian Pacific Railway. After a couple of postings in northwestern Ontario, starting at Finmark just outside of Thunder Bay, in 1917 he was transferred to the station in Rennie, Manitoba. Located on what is now termed ‘the old highway’ in the Whiteshell area west of Kenora, Rennie was a refueling stop for the CPR.

Having had his medical examination in Winnipeg in November of 1917, John signed his recruitment papers with the 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment in Toronto on 31 January 1918. His birth year was recorded as 1888 and occupation given as CPR station agent. He listed his half brother Frederick of Pickering as next of kin.

John embarked from Halifax aboard the SS Megantic on 19 February 1918. Upon arrival in England he was taken on strength with the 3rd Reserve Battalion. He trained in England until June when he left for the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp and joined the 19th (Central Ontario) Battalion in early August in time for the Second Battle of the Somme. In early December John was admitted to the No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance, transferred to the 44th Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, on to the 2nd Australia General Hospital in Boulogne, and then to the 25 General Hospital in Hardelot. Suffering from interconnective tissue issues with both feet/legs as well as boils, John was invalided to England where he was to spend the duration of the war at the Kitchener Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Patricia Red Cross Hospital Cooden Camp in Bexhill, discharged on 28 February 1919. He embarked for Canada aboard the SS Lapland on April 3rd, and was discharged from on demobilization on April 12th in Toronto.

John returned to Rennie after the war and his job at the railway station with the CPR. On 15 June 1921 in Whitby, Ontario, John married Annie Stanley. Born in 1894 in Pickering, Annie was the daughter of William and Grace (née Sanders) Stanley. John and Annie were to make Rennie their home and gave birth to three children, Grace, John, and Gwendolyn.

Following an illness of about two years, John died on 9 April 1939 in the Kenora General Hospital. Accompanied by his wife, children, and maternal aunt Mary Alice Lee, according to his obituary his remains were shipped east for burial in Oshawa although he may have been interred in Whitby. Annie and the children relocated to the Whitby area, the widow Annie found as late as 1962 on Voters Lists. Gwen’s husband Kenneth MacDonald passed away in 2004, at the time survived by family members including Gwen and in-laws Grace and Ken Brown and John and Mary Fawcett.

by Judy Stockham

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