Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 11, 1892
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinNichol Finlayson (father), Kenora P.O., Ontario
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number2383673
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 18, 1918
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19700226
Age at Death77
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot40E-35-3, Liberty View

Finlayson, Hector John Peter

Private Hector John Peter Finlayson was called up under the Military Service Act in February 1918, at age 25. He served for fifteen months in Canada, the UK, France and Belgium.

Hector was the son of Nichol and Elizabeth Finlayson of Kenora, Ontario. Nichol’s father had been one of the early residents of Kenora, known then as Rat Portage, where he worked as a boat builder for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Nichol and Elizabeth were married in York Factory, Manitoba and their first few children were born in York Factory. They moved back to Rat Portage around 1889 and Hector was born there on 11 May 1892. The family also spent a few years in Dinorwic, Ontario, where Nichol worked as a teamster. Hector had four older siblings (John, Christina, Hilda and Isabella) and at least six younger ones (Nichol, George, Victoria, Thomas, Sarah and Nancy). His oldest brother John died of tuberculosis in 1902 in Dinorwic. Hector and his family were back in the Kenora area by 1905 and when the 1911 census was taken his parents were living in the township of Jaffray and Mellick where his father had taken up farming.

The war started in 1914 and Hector’s two younger brothers, Nichol and George, both enlisted early in 1916. They joined the 94th Battalion and went overseas that summer. Conscription started in 1917 and all single men age 20 to 34 were required to register by the fall. Hector reported to the local board and his medical exam on 30 November found him fit for overseas service. He was working as a farmer at the time, probably with his father. He was called up on 18 February 1918 and assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment in Port Arthur. At the end of March he became ill with the flu and he spent several days in the hospital. Shortly after recovering he was on his way to the east coast with the 5th Draft of his depot unit. They sailed from Halifax on 17 April on the SS Melita and disembarked in England eleven days later.

Hector was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion and he served with them for the next six months. He became ill again that summer and he was in the hospital from the end of July until the end of September, suffering from influenza. On 8 November he was sent to France and transferred to the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders). He joined his new unit in the field a few days after the Armistice and they spent the next three months in Belgium. When the battalion headed to Le Havre on 5 February 1919, on their way back to England, Hector wasn’t with them. He had been admitted to a casualty clearing station on 3 February then transferred to No. 54 General Hospital in Aubergue, suffering from influenza again. On 20 February he was invalided to England and the next day he was admitted to Bath War Hospital. He spent a week there followed by two weeks at Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital. Hector embarked from Glasgow, Scotland on 2 May on the SS Cassandra, arriving in Canada eleven days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 15 May in Port Arthur. His brother Nichol spent two years as a prisoner of war and George was wounded in 1917 but they both survived the war.

Hector returned to Kenora after his discharge. He was married there on 6 November 1920 to 29-year-old Annie McKenzie. When the 1921 census was taken they were living on First Street South in Kenora. Hector worked for the Department of Lands and Forests for twenty years and he became a member of the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. He moved to Winnipeg around 1968 and passed away in Deer Lodge Veterans Hospital on 26 February 1970. Hector is buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Also buried there are his parents and grandparents, his brothers Nichol and George and other family members.

Hector, Nichol and George are commemorated on the Aboriginal Veterans Tribute Honour List, found here.

By Becky Johnson

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