Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 9, 1895
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMother: Leonie Lacombe - Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number2383747
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion22nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentNorman, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 3, 1918
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 6, 1967
Age at Death72
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotRC A-9-3

Lacombe, Arcidas

Arcidas Lacombe was born in Norman, Ontario  on September 9, 1895.  Arcidas was known by family and friends as ‘Phil’. He was the 3rd child of Adelard A. Lacombe and Leonie Marie (Thomas) Lacombe. His parents were married in Montebello, Quebec. They left Quebec, along with their 1st born to set up their home in Norman (where many of the French families settled west of what was Rat Portage now known as Kenora).  In total they had 11 children: Lucien (Luke), Emile, Arcidas (Phil), Marguerite, Antonio, Emilia, Lucienne, Yvonne, Lorraine, Oscar and Paul.

Their family  was strictly French speaking at home but he learned English at a young age, never losing his accent. He was a dutiful son and treated his parents with the greatest respect, as did all his siblings.

Phil reported for duty April 3, 1918 and signed up with the 1st Battalion, Manitoba regiment, in Port Arthur, Ontario. He was 22 years old. From there he was transferred to the 11th Canadian Reserve Battalion and then finally transferred to the 22nd (French Canadian) Battalion.

The 22nd Battalion was mainly French speaking and became known by the nickname of ‘The Van Doos’.    By the time that Arcidas ‘Phil’ Lacombe landed in France  his battalion would take  part in the Hundred Days Offensive.   Phil’s brother  Lucien Lacombe  regimental # 2384160 also served in the war and  returned to Norman/Kenora.

He served in England and France. The Battalion was demobilized and Phil was discharged from service May 19, 1919. Phil received a War Service badge.

He married Kathleen Begg, daughter of James Rutherford and Jemima Begg (Muggaberg) of Kenora on October 24, 1921 at the Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church in Kenora. Kathleen’s father James refused to attend the service as he was a strict Anglican and did not approve of his daughter marrying a Catholic.

They had 4 children, Margarie, Ralph, Donald and Judith. Their eldest son, Ralph James Lacombe (# H/9304, Algonquin Regiment, R.C.I.C.) was killed in action in WW2 on September 11, 1944 when he was only 20 years of age.

Phil worked the majority of his life, first at the sawmill of the Keewatin Lumber Company, then with the Town of Kenora and finally at the CPR roundhouse until he retired at age 65. A few winters were spent in Port Arthur to be nearer his son, Don.

He enjoyed a short retirement. Phil was a member of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Norman, a member of the Kenora Branch of theRoyal Canadian Legion, and of the Loyal Order of Moose, Lodge No. 1689.

Arcidas (Phil) Lacombe died November 6, 1967 at the age of 72 in Kenora, and was laid to rest in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Roman Catholic section A, row 9, grave 3.


In the early years, winters were spent in Melick with his parents and siblings, where the men cut wood. It was then brought into Kenora by horse and sleigh and sold for $1/cord. It was a happy day when they finally were able to truck it in.

Summers were spent working at the sawmill in Keewatin. He boarded, along with other young men, with an Aunt who would pack their lunches. Sometimes there was a piece of raisin pie for dessert, which was promptly tossed into the garbage by all. The way Phil told the story was that it tasted terrible and there were about 3 raisins per slice. He never ate raisin pie after that.

He continued at the saw mill after marriage until the mid 1930s, when he suffered a heart attack and was bedridden for months. What was he to do for money? A bit of bootlegging put food on their table. One night, his son was carrying a bottle into the house and dropped it on a rock smashing it to pieces. Hearts sank, Kathleen out there with a cloth, trying to sop it up and save whatever she could…. and the hunger pangs were more acute for a few days. Such was life in those times.

The Norman Dam in those early years was a place that only those who lived in Norman could truly appreciate, and Phil was one of the regular visitors, carrying his bamboo poles in the early dawn (he never used a rod and reel) to fish for the walleye. It was an exciting place to be, especially when the piers were full open. Phil enjoyed many hours  ‘Down the Dam’.

By Carole Miller

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