Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 13, 1873
Place of BirthBlairton, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs William (Annie) Ellis, sister, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingFarmer
Service Details
Regimental Number152518
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Canadian Mounted Rifles
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJuly 24, 1915
Age at Enlistment42
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 9, 1946
Age at Death73
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia

Lake, James Alfred

James Alfred Lake was born on 13 January 1873 in Blairton, Peterborough County, Ontario. His father was Wellington Lake who was from Sidney in Hastings County while his mother Ellen Simpson was from Scotland. By the time of the 1861 census the couple was married with one son, John Bidwell, and living in Sidney. By 1871 the family was living in nearby Blairton, with new additions to the family of George Albert, Elizabeth, Wellington, and new born baby Victoria. Wellington Sr was working as a miner in one of the richest iron ore mines of the Dominion (Canada West) and miners and labourers were in great demand with men and families coming from as far away as Britain and Europe to work it. The village had grown into a bustling community with at least eleven streets, three general stores, two hotels, a telegraph office, a railroad station, blacksmith shops, and eventually its own post office. The mining company provided company homes for families and boarding houses for singles, a church, and a school. Sadly, Wellington Sr died in February of 1875 in Blairton of peritonitis. The next year Ellen married widower Julius Acker, a lumberman/farmer from the nearby township of Marmora and Lake. Also born in Sidney, Julius had three children with his first wife Melissa Root, Mary Jane, John, and George. Julius and Ellen farmed in the area and gave birth to at least six known children, Emma Rilla, Alexander, Amarilla, Margaret (Maggie), Annie, and Charles.

James’ mother Ellen died on 1 May 1906 and it appears that at some point after her death Julius and some of the children moved to Norman in northwestern Ontario near Kenora. Emma had married George McMillan in 1904 and moved to the area with Julius residing with them in the 1911 census, and in 1908, in Kenora, Annie married William Ellis with whom James lived with while he was working for the Keewatin Lumber Company.

With occupation given as farmer, his date and place of birth as 13 January 1874 in Marmora (about 8 kilometres from Blairton), James signed his attestation papers in Brandon, Manitoba on 24 July 1915. He gave his sister Mrs William (Annie) Ellis of Kenora as next of kin. The 79th Battalion recruited throughout Manitoba and was mobilized at Brandon. As a Private with the battalion, James embarked from Halifax aboard the Lapland on 25 April 1916.

Once in England James was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and landed in France on 7 June. That September, at the Somme, he sustained gunshot/shrapnel wounds to the shoulder and foot and was admitted to the No 8 Stationary Hospital in Wimereux on the 16th. He was transferred to the Cambridge Hospital at Aldershot on the 21st and then on to Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital, Epsom on the 26th. James was discharged from the hospital on 11 December 1916. He went through a series of transfers in England until posted to the 3rd Canadian Divisional Employment Company in June of 1917. He arrived in Boulogne on June 9th and was attached to the 3rd CDEC Headquarters until February of 1918. ‘The employment companies came under the direct command of Canadian Corps or Divisional Headquarters. Personnel were lent to other units (e.g. mobile veterinary, town majors, divisional trains and ammunition columns) for short periods or were employed at headquarters. Company personnel performed a wide variety of duties (traffic control, salvage operations, water police, road building), formed burial and salvage parties, worked in sanitary sections, divisional baths, Church Army and YMCA huts, ammunition dumps and were employed at headquarters as orderlies, batmen, grooms, clerks, cooks, waiters, guards and picquets.‘ (Library and Archives Canada)

All was not well with James as his foot injury combined with a previous accident with an axe to the foot around 1905 made him unable to keep up with route marches. Rheumatism had also set in and James was returned to England as ‘overage and considered as not fully capable of carrying on with duties in the field.’

James arrived in Halifax aboard the Mauretania on 20 May 1918. He was given leave until June 10th, spending it with his sister Annie Ellis who had moved to Fertile, Saskatchewan. James was then posted to the 12th Garrison Regiment (Regina) but was discharged from service on 21 December 1918 in Regina, being physically unfit, wounds, Category E. His character was noted as very good and conduct as reliable and trustworthy. He was entitled to wear one gold casualty strip and three blue service chevrons. His intended place of residence was given as Fertile, occupation as farmer.

By the 1921 census James was farming in the district of Souris in Manitoba along with his sister Annie and family. His stepfather Julius had died in 1918 in Kenora, interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. According to his British Columbia death record, James had moved to the Vancouver area around 1930. A 1934 city directory listed him as a farmer living on East 62nd Avenue while by 1941 he was listed as retired and living on East 49th Avenue, moving two streets over the next year. James died in the Shaughnessy Hospital on 9 January 1946. His Veteran Death card listed a friend, J McGill of Vancouver, as his next of kin. He is interred in a soldier’s plot in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

by Judy Stockham

gravemarker photo: Herbert Rickards,
obituary: courtesy of Mike Melen
Veteran Death card: Library and Archives Canada

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