Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 29, 1895
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAndrew Johnson (father), Ostersund, Ontario
Trade / CallingTrainman
Service Details
Regimental Number2384021
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion3rd Canadian Infantry Works Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentOstersund, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMay 23, 1918
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 21, 1944
Age at Death49
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Johnson, Gustave Adolph

Private Gustave Adolph Johnson was called up under the Military Service Act in May 1918 and served overseas for a year. He returned to Canada in July 1919.

Gustave was the oldest son of Andrew Gustave and Alena/Alina Johnson of the township of Pellatt in northwestern Ontario. Andrew was born in Sweden, possibly in Stockham, and came to Canada in the early 1880s. Around 1885 he moved to northwestern Ontario and worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Alena emigrated from Sweden in the early 1890s and by 1895 they were married and living in the Keewatin area. Gustave was born in Keewatin on 29 April 1895. He was followed by at least six sisters and a brother: Sophia Alina (1896), Augusta Charlotte (1897), Agnes (1900), Kareen Victoria (1902), Louisa (1903), Francis Oscar (Frank)(1905) and Rosina (1910). Andrew worked as a millhand for a few years then took up farming in the township of Pellatt. He and his family lived in Ostersund, a small settlement located near a railway station just west of Keewatin. The children attended school in the neighbouring community of Laclu.

Gustave’s sister Augusta Charlotte died in Winnipeg in January 1917, at age 19, and she’s buried in Brookside Cemetery. In the summer of 1917 the war entered its fourth year and conscription started in Canada that fall. Gustave registered and had his medical exam as required in the nearby town of Kenora. He was found fit for overseas service and he was called up on 23 May 1918. He was 23 years old, his address was Ostersund and his occupation trainman. He was assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment and he trained with them in Port Arthur for about three months. Depot battalions sent drafts of recruits overseas as needed and Gustave went with the 81st Draft, arriving in England on HMT Nellore on 15 August 1918. The following day he was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion.

Hostilities ended on the Western Front on 11 November and about a week later Gustave was drafted to the 8th Battalion and sent to France. The 8th Battalion took part in the March to the Rhine and spent four weeks as part of the occupying forces in Germany, from 6 December 1918 to 6 January 1919. On 6 January Gustave was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Works Company and he served with them for four months. The unit was employed mainly in road construction under the supervision of the Royal Engineers. Gustave returned to England on 11 May and sailed for Canada on the SS Olympic at the end of June. He arrived in Halifax on 8 July and was discharged in Winnipeg four days later.

Gustave returned to his job with the railway and continued to live in the Kenora area. He was married in Kenora on 16 June 1920 to Mildred Helen Halverson. Mildred was born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in October 1900, the daughter of Swan Halverson and Ida Johnson. Gustave and Mildred had two children, Leonard and Leonora (Nonie). From about 1920 to 1926 Gustave worked as a carpenter on the construction of the Norman powerhouse. Following that he had a long career with the pulp and paper mill in Kenora. Sadly, his wife passed away on 12 May 1928, at age 27, suffering from phthisis and pneumonia. She’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Gustave married his second wife, Gladys Irene Portman, on 29 January 1929. Gladys was born in 1904 in Birmingham, England, the daughter of Herbert and Jessie Portman. She came to Canada with her family in 1911 and they settled in Kenora.

Gustave and Gladys had three children, Viola, Robert and Brian. Gustave was a member of the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion, the Kenora Curling Club and the International Association of Machinists. His mother died in 1931 and his father in 1941. Gustave passed away in the Kenora General Hospital on 21 May 1944, at age 49. He was survived by his wife and his five children. At the time of his death Leonard was serving overseas with the Royal Canadian Engineers. Gustave’s funeral was held on 24 May and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Gladys married again and spent her last years living in St. John, New Brunswick with her husband Bill Clark. She died in St. John on 3 September 1986 and she’s buried with Gustave in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Also buried there are Gustave’s parents, his sister Louise (Mrs. Benhard Lund)(1903-1991), his brother Frank (1905-1972; his grave marker has his death date as 1979 in error), his sister Rosina (Mrs. Albert Hager)(1910-1990), his daughter Leonora (Mrs. Carl Hager)(1921-1997) and other family members. His sister Kareen (Mrs. Matt Batenchuk)(1902-1976) is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg.

By Becky Johnson

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