|Date of Birth||August 14, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Pamela Heppelle, mother, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Teamster|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||November 16, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||November 30, 1942|
|Age at Death||46|
|Buried At||St Andrews Catholic Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario|
Although a birth record was not found, Eugene Heppelle was most likely born on 14 August 1896 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. Over the years various spellings of the surname were used: H’epell, H’eppel, H’appell, Hapell, Hepell, Heppell, Heppelle. His father Emile Heppelle was from Ste-Anaclet, Rimouski in Quebec while his mother Marie Delvina Pomela (Pamela) Rancourt was from Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Les Chenaux, Quebec, about 40 kilometres northeast of Trois Rivières. Moving to Rat Portage with family members, Emile and Pomela likely met there, marrying on 23 May 1893. Their first child daughter Blanche was born in 1894 followed by Eugene. Over the years Emile worked as a millhand at one of the local mills.
According to an infant’s death record, Eugene and a married woman gave birth to an illegitimate male child that died on 26 October 1916. An inquest was ordered, with coroner JA Kinney giving his report on 27 November. Meanwhile Eugene signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg with the 233 Battalion on 16 November. His occupation was given as teamster, his mother Pamela in Kenora as next of kin, and his date of birth as 14 August 1895. Eugene was struck off strength as a deserter on 9 February 1917 in Winnipeg.
The 1921 census found Emile, Pomela, and Blanche living in Kenora, whereabouts of Eugene unknown. By 1923 he was working as a grain elevator foreman in Port Arthur, Ontario, having assumed the name of Emile Eugene Rancourt, later shortened to Emil Rancourt. With this new identity he gave his place of birth as Trois Rivières, moving to Kenora as a young child with his parents ‘Emile and Pomela Rancourt’. On 6 January 1923 in Port Arthur, Emile married Isabelle Parsons. Born about 1904 in Newfoundland, Isabelle was the daughter of John Parsons and Sarah Selina Strong. Along with her twin sister Elizabeth, the family had moved to Port Arthur by the time of the birth of the next child Pearl in 1907.
Living in Port Arthur, Emil and Isabelle gave birth to four children, Edward (1923-1943), William (1925-2016), Rose (abt 1929-1998), and Virginia. Emil died in an accident on 30 November 1942 when he fell from a boxcar while working at the Superior Elevator. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Isabelle, the children, and his mother, name given as Mrs Emile Rancourt in his obituary. His father had died in 1927 and his sister Blanche in 1933, both in Port Arthur. His mother later died in 1959. All are interred with the surname of Hep(p)elle in St Andrew’s Catholic Cemetery in Thunder Bay. Emil/Eugene, interred with his sister Blanche, has his name inscribed as Emil Rancourt on the gravemarker, the marker mistakenly giving Blanche’s year of death as 1938.
Isabelle later married widower Lloyd Whistle who had previously been married to Mary Ellen O’Connell. His wife had also died in 1942, leaving behind many children. Predeceased by Lloyd in 1976, Isabelle died on 17 March 1987 in Dawson Court Home for the Aged in Thunder Bay. She is interred in Riverside Cemetery, Thunder Bay.
By Judy Stockham
Obituaries: courtesy of the Thunder Bay Public Library
Gravemarker photo: Kathleen Englebretson, findagrave.com