Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 7, 1890
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs Kelley, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
Service Details
Regimental Number439086
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 23, 1915
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 6, 1964
Age at Death73
Buried AtPineview (Waverley) Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Plot37A2 Garden of Remembrance

Kelley, John Henry

Although he gave his year of birth as 1891 on his attestation papers, John Henry (Jack) Kelley was born on 7 November 1890 in Keewatin, Ontario. Located in northwestern Ontario, Keewatin was a thriving community of the time, largely due to the Lake of the Woods Milling Company. Jack was the first born  son of George and Elizabeth (Boswell) Kelley, both from Liverpool, England,  who had married in Keewatin in 1888. Witnesses to the marriage were George’s brother Edward Kelley and Elizabeth’s sister Kate Boswell.  George’s brother David Kelley, along with Elizabeth’s sister Catherine Jane (Kate) Boswell, were the first to immigrate to Canada in 1887, followed by George’s parents George SR  and Lucy Kelley and his brother Edward who were found in the 1891 census for New Westminster, British Columbia, and George JR and Elizabeth. George JR had found work as a packer at the mill in Keewatin where he was to remain until his death in 1913. Other children born to the family were Eliza (1889), George (1893), Eva Elizabeth (1895), Ethel May (1897), William Arthur (1900), Edna Pearl (1902), Cecil Ernest (1906), and David Edward (1910-1911).

Jack signed his attestation papers in nearby Kenora, Ontario on 23 January 1915. He gave his occupation as labourer but elsewhere in his service record it is listed as barber. He had served in the Bugle Band of the 90th Regiment for two years. By June of 1915, along with a number of other local fellows, Jack left for Port Arthur, Ontario for training camp with the 52nd Battalion. By September, with the rank of Private, he was on his way to England with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft of the 52nd that embarked from Montreal aboard the  Missanabie on the 4th.

Once in England Jack went through a series of transfers, first spending time at the Training Depot of the Canadian Army Service Corps until late January  of 1916. From there he was transferred to the 12th Battalion, proceeding overseas in August. Once in France he was again transferred, taken on strength with the 2nd Battalion a few days later. By December of 1916 John joined the 1st Battalion in the field where he was to remain for the duration of the war. Suffering from scabies, Jack spent  three weeks  in the No 3 Canadian Field Ambulance in mid 1917. Jack returned to Canada in July of 1919.

On 6 June 1922, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Jack married Ida Kathleen Barley. Born in 1899 in Worcester, Worcestershire, England, Ida had  immigrated to Keewatin in 1919 where her brother Bertie and family were living. Prior to  the marriage she was working as a clerk at Stewart’s Confectionery. Jack and Ida made their home in Keewatin where John worked as a barber. They gave birth to one child, a daughter Denise. In 1935 Ida became ill and spent time in the hospital in Kenora before being transferred to Winnipeg where she died in May of 1936. She is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.  Jack moved to Winnipeg in 1958 where his brothers George, Cecil and Arthur all were residing.

Predeceased by his father George in 1913 in Kenora, his mother Elizabeth in 1941 in Winnipeg, Jack died in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg on 6 March 1964, with interment in Pineview (Waverley) Memorial Gardens. At the time of death he was survived by his daughter Mrs Denise (Don) Carndoffe of Regina, three grandchildren, and siblings George, Cecil, Arthur and Ethel (Wickman). He was a member of the No 1 Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Jack’s brother George also served during the war, going overseas with the 94th Battalion and later serving with the 85th. He was hospitalized due to severe gassing. The two brothers were honoured at a Keewatin Roll of Honour ceremony in August of 1919 and are commemorated on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country plaque, on the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour plaque, and on the Keewatin St James Anglican Church plaque, now hanging in St Andrew’s United Church in Keewatin.

By Judy Stockham

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Photograph of Jack courtesy of Mildred Smith.

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