Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 30, 1895
Place of BirthWhitemouth, Manitoba
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs. Ellen Letain (wife), Lac du Bonnet P.O., Manitoba
Trade / CallingSteam engineer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number3347089
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentCedarkine P.O., Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJune 5, 1918
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 27, 1963
Age at Death67
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotRC D - 10 - 2

Letain, Jules Vital

Private Jules Vital Letain was the son of Jean Baptiste Letain and Felicité Eugénie Husson of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Jean Baptiste and Eugénie were both born in Belgium. They were married in 1888 and their first two children were born in Belgium, daughters Eugénie, who died as an infant, and Marie. Jean Baptiste, his wife and baby daughter immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1892, arriving in Montreal via Liverpool, England on 15 August on the SS Oregon. Eugénie’s sister Emilie Husson was also with them and their destination was Oak Lake, Manitoba.

A son, Rene, was born in Oak Lake in 1893. By the time Jules was born, on 30 September 1895, the family was living in Whitemouth, Manitoba. Jean Baptiste worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway and he and his wife had four more children: Vital, Bertha, Jean (John) and Elizabeth. They moved to Lac du Bonnet around 1900 and Jean Baptiste was the CPR section foreman there. He also had his own farm and he eventually owned several houses in town, which he rented out.

Jules attended school in Lac du Bonnet and started working for the CPR when he was about 20 years old. He was married on 17 September 1917 to Ellen (Nellie) Howcroft. Nellie was born in London, England in 1894 and came to Canada in 1912. Conscription started in Canada in the fall of 1917 and Jules was called up on 5 June 1918 in Winnipeg. His occupation was steam engineer and next of kin was his wife Ellen in Lac du Bonnet. He was assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment.

Shortly after his service started Jules became ill with tonsillitis and he spent the last two weeks of June in the Winnipeg General Hospital. In August he was sent to Quebec and put on command to the Canadian Engineer Training Depot at St. John. At the end of October he was posted to the Casualty Company and on 28 November, a few weeks after the Armistice, he was transferred back to the 1st Depot Battalion in Winnipeg. He was discharged on demobilization, due to being a married man, on 12 December 1918. His brother Rene had also been called up and he served in Canada for eleven months.

Jules returned to his job with the CPR and he and Nellie had ten children: Helen (b. 1918), Belle, Mary, Florence, Jeanne, Elizabeth (Betty), Jules John, Robert, Donald and Earl (b. 1933). They moved from Lac du Bonnet to Kenora, Ontario around 1928. Betty died in Kenora at age 9 and she’s buried in the Catholic section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Jules had a long career with the CPR as a sectionman, bridgeman, pumpman, carpenter and pipe fitter. He was a member of the Canadian Legion, Kenora branch, the Brotherhood of Maintenance and Way Employees, the Loyal Order of Moose and the Notre Dame Church. He retired from the CPR in August 1960.

Jules passed away at home on 27 August 1963, at age 67, and Nellie died in 1971, at age 77. They are buried in the Catholic section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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