Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAround 1873
Place of BirthCovan, Glasgow
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs Annie Ferguson Gray (wife), 70 Arnold Avenue, Fort Rouge, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingFlorist
Service Details
Regimental Number859640
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion14th Reserve Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment70 Arnold Avenue, Fort Rouge, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 27, 1915
Age at EnlistmentAbout 42
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 26, 1953
Age at Death80
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Gray, Robert Robertson

Sergeant Robert Robertson Gray was married and working as a florist when he enlisted in Winnipeg in December 1915. He served in Canada and the UK for two years and a half years.

Robert was born in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to Canada in the spring of 1901, arriving in April on the SS State of Nebraska. He settled in Winnipeg and two months later Annie Ferguson McClure joined him. Annie was born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland and she arrived in Montreal on the SS Sarmatian on 19 June 1901. Robert and Annie were married in Winnipeg three days later and they made their home on Arnold Avenue in the Fort Rouge area.

By the fall of 1915 the war was in its second year and Robert enlisted on 27 December, signing up in Winnipeg with the 179th Battalion. He gave his birth date as 1 October 1875 but he was probably born a few years earlier. He had served in the British army with the Royal Scots Greys and Lovat’s Scouts (during the Second Boer War), as well as six years with the Cameron Highlanders of Canada, a militia unit. In February 1916 he signed a second attestation and he was promoted to Sergeant. At the end of May he was transferred to the 174th Battalion, another Winnipeg-based unit.

Robert was transferred back to the 179th Battalion on 24 September and the recruits headed for the east coast a few days later. They embarked from Halifax on the SS Saxonia on 4 October and arrived in England on 13 October. Robert served in the UK for the next fourteen months, most of that time as an instructor. On 21 October his unit was absorbed into the 17th Reserve Battalion and in January 1917 he was transferred to the 14th Reserve Battalion. Between May and July he was on command to N.C.O. Courses in Hertford and the Canadian Training School at Bexhill.

When he left Canada Robert had reverted to the rank of private but in August 1917, back with the 14th Reserve Battalion, he was appointed Acting Lance Sergeant. Although his general health was excellent he began suffering from arthritis in both of his knees that fall. In mid-November he was transferred to the Manitoba Regiment Depot and at the end of December he was on his way back to Canada, sailing on the SS Metagama. He served in Winnipeg for another six months. When he had a medical exam in April 1918 he was diagnosed with myalgia, which was aggravated by exposure to cold weather, and he was discharged on 12 June due to being medically unfit for further war service. His character and conduct were described as very good.

After the war Robert owned and operated his own florist business in Winnipeg, called Gray’s Florists. In 1926 he and his wife moved to Norman, a small community next to Kenora in northwestern Ontario. The following year Robert joined the Kenora branch of the Great War Veterans’ Association (later the Canadian Legion) and Annie was a member of the Legion ladies’ auxiliary. Annie died at home in September 1947, at age 72. Robert passed away in Deer Lodge Veterans Hospital in Winnipeg on 26 October 1953, at age 80. They are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Becky Johnson

Gray-Robert-Robertson-90 Gray-Robert-Robertson-91 Gray-Robert-Robertson-92 Gray-Robert-Robertson-93
Robert’s grave marker was installed in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in 2018 by the Last Post Fund.

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