|Date of Birth||August 31, 1888|
|Place of Birth||Mattawa, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Fred Gilbert, father, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||merchant|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||May 21, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||December 5, 1982|
|Age at Death||94|
|Buried At||Mountain View Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario|
|Plot||Blk 189 R-3 Lot 98|
David Patrick Gilbert was born on 31 August 1888 in Mattawa, Ontario, date and place confirmed by his baptism record. He was the son of Frederick Gilbert and Margaret Sheehan who had married on 5 April 1874 in Quyon, Pontiac, Quebec. The couple farmed in the area for a few years where children Mary (1875), George (1877), and Edward (1879) were born. In the early 1880’s the family moved to Mattawa where Fred worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and later as a carpenter. Children born in Mattawa were Frederick (1882), Margaret (1884), Joseph (1886), and David. In the late 1890’s the family moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) where son William was born (abt 1898). Sadly David’s mother Margaret died in 1900. Fred married widow Isabel Farris (née Sinclair) in 1906. Isabella and her first husband John Farris were from the Maritimes, married in 1888 in Amherst, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Their first two sons, Angus Sinclair and John Edward, were born in Nova Scotia. Sometime after the 1891 census they moved to northwestern Ontario and son Laughlin was born in Keewatin in December of 1898. John Farris had passed away in November 1900. By the 1911 census only Fred, Isabella, Mary and Laughlin were left in the household. Over the years Fred worked as a carpenter/contractor with a number of buildings erected in Kenora under his supervision. Daughter Mary died in Kenora in March of 1912.
With occupation given as merchant and his father Fred as next of kin, David signed his attestation papers on 21 May 1915 in Kenora. For reasons unknown he gave his place of birth as Kenora. As a Private with the 52nd David trained in Port Arthur before embarking from St John, New Brunswick for overseas aboard the California on 23 November 1915.
David remained in England when his battalion left for France in February of 1916, attached briefly to the 34th Battalion and then to the 11th Reserve Battalion. In mid May 1916 he embarked for France, joining the 52nd Battalion on June 6th. Just two days later while in support at Zillebeke, Belgium, David sustained a through and through gunshot/shrapnel wound to the groin. He was evacuated through a Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinge to Etaples on the 9th and then to the 5th North General Hospital in Leicester on the 16th. He was transferred to the Kings Canadian Red Cross Convalescent Hospital at Bushy Park in early July for a few days and then on to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epson for physical training with discharge in mid August. David spent the rest of the war in England, going through many transfers while also spending time out of service (vdg, vds). He arrived back in Canada aboard the Cassandra on 6 March 1919, with final discharge due to demobilization in Winnipeg on April 7th.
David’s brother Joseph signed his attestation papers in Edmonton in August of 1915. He served overseas with the 44th Battalion, returning to Canada in December of 1918, discharged as medically unfit in January 1919 in Winnipeg. David’s step brother Laughlin Farris, age 16, signed up in Kenora on 1 September 1915, joining the 61st Battalion and passing himself off as 18. He served for about five weeks and was discharged at Camp Hughes on 9 October due to being medically unfit.
David returned to northwestern Ontario and on 31 December 1920, in Dryden, he married Florence Elizabeth Kennedy. Born in Hyas, Saskatchewan, Florence was the daughter of Donald and Mary Ann (née Doake) Kennedy. Both David and Florence had been living in Eagle River at the time of the marriage where David was working as an engineer. By the next year the couple was living just north of Vermilion Bay, David working as a fisherman. Well known and respected, David’s father passed away in Kenora in 1922.
For many years David operated a tourist camp and was a commercial fisherman in northwestern Ontario. He and Florence had four known children, sons Patrick and William John (Jack), and daughters Terry and Jane. According to his obituary David served during WW2 with the Forestry Corps. He and Florence eventually moved to Thunder Bay where he was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 6.
Predeceased by Florence in 1970 and all of his birth family, David died on 5 December 1982, resident of the Hogarth Westmount Hospital in Thunder Bay. At the time of his death he was survived by his sons Patrick and Jack of Thunder Bay, and daughters Terry Rengelly of Murillo and Jane Gilbert of Linko. Also surviving were five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. David is interred in a military plot in Mountain View Cemetery, Thunder Bay.
by Judy Stockham
David’s obituary provided by the Thunder Bay Public Library
David’s grave marker photograph courtesy of Lynda Piila