Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 18, 1897
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMichael LaBelle, father, Beausejour, Manitoba
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number2382852
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentBeausejour, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentMay 3, 1918
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 10, 1980
Age at Death83
Buried AtGlen Eden Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg, Manitoba

LaBelle, Joseph Edward Parnell

Joseph Edward Parnell LaBelle was born on 18 January 1897 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern ) Ontario. His parents were Michael LaBelle and Mary Brennan who had married on 4 September 1877 in St Paul the Hermit church in Sheenboro, Pontiac, Quebec. They had been living with their families in nearby Chichester at the time. However in earlier censuses Michael’s surname was given as Isobell/Isabell as well as in the 1881 census after their marriage. The Chichester/Sheenboro area had been settled by Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine, with Mary’s parents among the immigrants as was Michael’s mother. The Brennan and Isobell/Isabell families both farmed in the Chichester area. Children born in Chichester and for unknown reasons baptized in Sheenboro with the surname of Micheau were Ambrose (1878-1912), Daniel Leon (1880-1939), Mary Ellen (1882-1936), Michael James (1884), and twins Joseph Ernest (Ernie)(1986-1961) and Catherine Ada (Kate) (1886). The 1881 census found Michael, Mary, and children Ambrose and Daniel, surname given as Isobell, living with Mary’s parents in Chichester where they were farming.

By the time of the 1891 census the family had moved to Rat Portage, later renamed Kenora, in northwestern Ontario where Michael found work as a lumberman. From this time on the family consistently went by the surname of Labelle/LaBelle/La Belle. Children born in Rat Portage were Bridget Ethel (1889-1984), John Guy (1891-1924), Annie Laurene (Rene) (1893-1970), George Leo (1894-1895), and Parnell. By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to Beausejour in Manitoba to farm. Norah Louise, daughter of Kate, joined the family in 1903 to be raised by her grandparents.

Parnell signed recruitment papers on 3 May 1918 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His occupation was given as farmer and his father Michael LaBelle of Beausejour as next of kin. He had red hair, gray eyes and a ruddy complexion. Parnell was to serve in Canada with the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment, C Company and was discharged on demobilization on 7 January 1919 in Winnipeg.

Most of Parnell’s brothers were to enlist/serve during the war, Daniel in France with the 3rd Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps, Ernie with the Canadian Forestry Corps in Great Britain, and Michael James signed his U.S., World War I Draft Registration Card in Floodwood, Minnesota on 11 September 1918, service unknown.

At some point after the war Parnell moved to Windsor, Ontario where he worked for Parkhill Bedding. He moved back to Manitoba to live in Garson, a community near Beausejour where he worked for Garson Limestone (Quarry). ‘Tyndall Stone is quarried from Garson, Manitoba, which is located 37 km northeast of Winnipeg. The Garson deposit was opened in 1895, although the first record of construction with Tyndall Stone extends even further back to 1832, when it was used to build the fort warehouse and walls of Lower Fort Garry in Manitoba. Tyndall Stone acquired its name from Tyndall, the closet railway point to Garson. A total of five pits were developed in the area by various firms over the years, but only two remain in operation. Tyndall Stone is quite legitimately marketed as an aesthetically pleasing, low-maintenance ‘natural product’ characterized by structural strength, durability, fire resistance, and sound deadening qualities. The rock is also extremely versatile, being equally at home in an urban setting as in a rural one, and in traditional as well as in contemporary residential and commercial architecture.’ (Mario Coniglio) In 1940 Parnell was elected as a councillor for Garson and was found living with his widowed mother Mary in Garson on a 1945 Voters list. Mary later died in 1948 in Toronto while living with her daughter Ethel.

By the early 1950’s Parnell had married Thelma Jones. The daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cox) Jones, Thelma was born in Garson on 12 October 1911. By the early 1960’s Parnell and Thelma moved to Winnipeg, residing on Leila Avenue. Parnell died on 10 August 1980 at Beacon Lodge in Winnipeg. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Thelma and sister Ethel Parker of Toronto as well as several nieces and nephews. Thelma died on 19 March 1984 at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. Parnell and Thelma are interred in Glen Eden Memorial Gardens in West St Paul on the outskirts of Winnipeg.

by Judy Stockham

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