Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 19, 1888
Place of BirthWokingham, Berkshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles Keep, brother, 895 Alfred Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingTrainman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number622032
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion44th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentDecember 22, 1914
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 13, 1965
Age at Death77
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Keep, Walter

Walter Keep was born on 19 April 1888 in Wokingham, Berkshire, England. His father Edward Keep was from Streatham, Surrey while his mother Maria Bristow was from Waltham St Lawrence in Berkshire. The couple married on 9 January 1871 in Warlingham, Surrey. Over the years Edward’s occupation was listed as groom or coachman. In the early years the family moved a fair bit as evidenced by the births of the children, William in 1871 in Warlingham, Harriet in 1872 in Streatham, Edward in 1874 in Binfield, Berkshire, and then the following children in Wokingham, Henry (1878), Charles (abt 1884), Alfred (abt 1886), and Walter. Walter’s father Edward died in 1892 in Reading, Berkshire and his mother Maria in 1902 in Wokingham.

Walter’s brother Charles was the first to immigrate to Canada, arriving in August of 1906 aboard the  Lake Erie on his way to Winnipeg. Walter and his brother Alfred arrived on 19 April 1907 aboard the  Victorian, listed as labourers going to Winnipeg. By the 1911 Canada census Walter was living in Kenora, Ontario and working as a fireman for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Like a number of other young men from England that also worked for the railway, Walter was living at the YMCA across the street from the railway depot. The building had a restaurant, billiard room, two lane bowling alley, boxing ring, reading and writing room, tennis court and lawn bowling area as well as two floors of rooms. In their spare time a group of these young men, known as the Peterborough Boys, spent time together. Although not from Peterborough Walter was part of the group.

Walter signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg on 22 December 1914. His occupation was given as trainman, his brother Charles of Winnipeg as next of kin, and previous military experience as three months with the 90th Rifles of Winnipeg. Organized in Winnipeg under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel ER Wayland with recruitment in Winnipeg, the 44th Battalion embarked from Halifax aboard the  Lapland on 23 October 1915. On board was Corporal Walter Keep.

Once in England Walter was appointed Acting Sergeant, rank confirmed upon the battalion’s arrival in France on 10 August 1916. Suffering a shrapnel wound to the arm on the 13th of September at Vierstraat, Walter was admitted to the No 11 Canadian Field Ambulance the next day and then transferred to the No 8 Stationary Hospital in Boulogne on the 15th. On the 19th he was invalided to the 1st Southern General Hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham and then on to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Bear Wood in Wokingham on 16 January 1917. Surgery had been required for removal of the shrapnel.

After his discharge from the hospital on 23 January 1917, Walter went through a series of transfers between No 1 and 3 Canadian Convalescent Depots. In early September he was selected for return to Canada to undergo a course in Remedial Gymnastics and Treatment at Hart House, University of Toronto although it would be November before he left. In July of 1918 Walter was transferred from Military District No 2 to Military District No 10 and detailed for duty to Tuxedo Park Hospital in Winnipeg. He was promoted to Acting Company Sergeant Major that July, confirmed in rank of CSM1 in September. Walter was discharged from service on demobilization on 31 December 1918.

During the 1st quarter of 1917, in Wokingham, Walter had married Ethel Young. Born in 1891 in Bury, Lancashire, Ethel was the daughter of Walter and Elizabeth (née Campbell) Young who had married in 1886 in St Paul Paddington London. Ethel had arrived in Canada with her mother and siblings in July of 1911 aboard the  Empress of Ireland, on their way to Winnipeg to join her father Walter. After the marriage, Ethel returned to Canada aboard the Olympic, arriving in Halifax on 21 May 1917.

Walter and Ethel were to make Winnipeg their home, found on the 1921 Canada census living on Wardlow Avenue. They had given birth to two children, daughters Irene (Doris) and Avis. Walter continued to work for the CPR, retiring as conductor in 1953. They may have lived in Kenora at some point as Walter joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion in 1942. He was also a member of the Fort Rouge Branch of the Canadian Legion.

Predeceased by his wife Ethel in February of 1946, Walter died in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg on 13 August 1965. At the time of his death he was survived by daughters Doris (Fred) Johnston of St Vital and Avis (Ted) Rippon of Alberta, five grandchildren, and two brothers, Charles of Winnipeg and Alfred of Colinton, Alberta.  Walter and Ethel are interred in Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Walter’s brother Charles enlisted in Winnipeg in March of 1916 and went overseas with the 183rd Battalion, embarking from Halifax on 3 October 1916. Once in England the battalion was broken up and according to his obituary Charles served with the Railroad Corps. He returned to Winnipeg after the war, residing with his family on the same street as Walter.

by Judy Stockham

Keep-Walter-3 Keep-Walter-4 Keep-Walter-5 Keep-Walter-6 Keep-Walter-7 Keep-Walter-8
photographs of the Peterborough boys courtesy of Stan Clark as found in Common Ground: Stories of the Lake of the Woods

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