|Date of Birth||August 25, 1895|
|Place of Birth||Norman, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Ethyl Holmstrom, wife, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Fisherman|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Address at Enlistment||PO Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||May 10, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||22|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||December 30, 1987|
|Age at Death||92|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
August Michael Holmstrom was born on 25 August 1895 in the village of Norman near Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. His father Erik Olaf (Jansson) Holmstrom was from Gräsmark, Varmland in Sweden and had immigrated to Canada with his parents John and Kasja in late October of 1887. The family settled in nearby Keewatin where Erik first worked on railway construction. He then worked for a while in Vancouver before returning to northwestern Ontario where he was to work for a lumber company, then a sawmill in Norman, was involved in icemaking and freighting, and for many years worked as a commercial fisherman. August’s mother Ingrid Iggstrom was from Färila, Gävleborg in Sweden. Her brother Michael had immigrated to Canada in 1887 followed by Ingrid in 1888 and their parents Michael and Anna and some siblings in 1890, also settling in Keewatin. Once in Canada the family surname was often spelled as Ekstrom or Exstrom.
Known children born to Erik and Ingrid were John Michael (1891-1893), John Olaf (1893-1962), August, Ruth Ingeborg (Bergsten) (1897-1933), Edward (1900-1900), Eric Edward (1902-1918), Stanley (1903-1975), twins Edvin and Ester (1905-1905), Ester Elvira (1908-1909), and Olga (Malmo) (1910-2002). Erik and Ingrid had a farm near Alymer Point on Lake of the Woods and along with some of the sons and son-in-laws commercial fished on Shoal Lake. Erik, along with Carl Malmo, ‘were instrumental in creating the navigable channel known today as Holmstrom’s Marsh. This route provides safe passage around the Manitou stretch which can be dangerous in windy weather.’ For many years the men worked on cutting out chunks of the marsh near Erik’s farm, making it a channel that it is widely used today. (plaque dedication July 31, 1990)
On 26 August 1917, in Kenora, August married Ethyl Folster. Along with her twin brother Wilfred, Ethyl was born in Rat Portage on 2 January 1901. She was the daughter of Henry Folster and Catherine Muggaberg, both from the RM of St Andrews in Manitoba. Sadly Ethyl’s twin died that October. August’s brother John had married Dianna Folster, sister of Ethyl, in 1913.
Having had his medical examination in Kenora in October 1917 and classified as A2, August signed his recruitment papers in Port Arthur on 10 May 1918. His place of birth was given as Kenora, his occupation as fisherman, and his wife Ethyl (Ethel) in Kenora as next of kin. That June his medical category was changed to C2 due to a goiter (abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland). He was granted a conditional leave prior to discharge on return to the Registrar’s Records on 2 September 1918.
August was found on the 1921 census for Shoal Lake, occupation fisherman. He worked for his father Erik in Kenora’s first ice and freighting business and held licences with him for commercial fishing on Shoal Lake. He worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a yardman for 43 years, retiring in 1960. August and Ethyl had four children, a son that died in infancy as well as son Harold and daughters Edyth (Sally) and Thelma. Ethyl died on 12 December 1959 and August later remarried. After retiring he moved to Vancouver, returning to Kenora in 1983.
August died on 30 December 1987 at the Kenora General Hospital. At the time of his death he was survived by his second wife Margaret in the Holy Family Hospital in Vancouver, son Harold of Kenora and Phoenix, Arizona, daughters Sally (Leamon) Stewart and Thelma (Ray) Reynard of Kenora, sister Olga Malmo of Kenora, 5 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. August is interred with Ethyl in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.
by Judy Stockham
obituaries: Kenora Miner and News