|Date of Birth||August 5, 1864|
|Place of Birth||Portland, Leeds County, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Ebenezer Heath (son), Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Carpenter|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||November 15, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||51|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||February 22, 1951|
|Age at Death||86|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||Angel Crest Block|
Private George Heath was about 50 years old when he enlisted in August 1915. He served for 15 months in Canada and England before getting discharged due to being overage and medically unfit for war service.
George was born in Portland, Leeds County, Ontario, the son of Ebenezer Heath, a cooper, and Maria Shaver. Ebenezer and Maria had at least eight children and George was the second youngest. His obituary gives a birth date of 4 August 1864 but he may have been born a year or two before that. When the 1881 census was taken he was living at home in Leeds County, listed as 18 years old, and working as a cooper like his father.
George was married in September 1887 in Elgin, a small village just south of Portland. His wife was 18-year-old Naomi Chapman, the oldest daughter of Joseph and Martha Chapman. Around 1898 George and his wife moved to the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario, where his sister Mrs. Annie Dowsett was living. George found work there with the Canadian Pacific Railway. He and his wife had four children: William Ebenezer, Ellen, Lucy Evelyn and Mildred Ada. George’s youngest daughter was born about 1904 and around that time his marriage ended. Naomi and the girls moved to Windsor, Ontario and William spent some time in Winnipeg. George stayed in Kenora and when the 1911 census was taken he was lodging at a home in Lakeside and working as a carpenter.
The war started in August 1914 and George enlisted a year later, signing up on 15 August 1915 with the 94th Battalion. He was 5’6″ and 150 lb. with blue eyes and brown hair. He passed himself off as 40 years old even though he was at least 51 by then. The 94th had been organized just a few weeks earlier and it was based in Port Arthur but recruited throughout northwestern Ontario. After training in Kenora over the winter George and the other local volunteers headed to Port Arthur in May 1916, to join the rest of the unit. The battalion left for the east coast on 9 June and spent a short time at Valcartier Camp, northwest of Quebec City, before embarking from Halifax at the end of the month. In England the recruits were absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.
On 18 August George was assigned to the 32nd Reserve Battalion, which was based at East Sandling. His age and health became a problem almost immediately. He was transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion on 29 August then to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Center a week later. He suffered from myalgia and was able to do only very light training. A medical exam on 21 September found him no longer physically fit for service due to rheumatism and old age, with his age now recorded as 50. He embarked for Canada on 14 October on the Lake Manitoba and landed in Halifax at the end of the month. He arrived back in Kenora on 8 November, as mentioned in the Kenora Miner and News, and his official discharge was on 21 November. His nephew Charles Dowsett of Kenora had also enlisted in the fall of 1915. He served overseas for three years and returned home with a war bride.
By 1921 George had settled in the township of Jaffray Melick, on the outskirts of Kenora. Over the next thirty years he lived in both Jaffray Melick, where he farmed, and Kenora, where he worked as a labourer. George passed away in the Kenora General Hospital on 22 February 1951. He was survived by his son, William Ebenezer of Kenora, and his three daughters: Ellen (Mrs. John Wesley Hall) of Windsor, Lucy (Mrs. Earl Winegar) of Detroit, and Mildred (Mrs. John Balfour Horsburgh) of Montreal. For many years William owned and operated a grocery business in Kenora, first with a partner (Neale and Heath) and then on his own (Heath Grocery). William died in 1957 and he and his father are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.
By Becky Johnson