Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 14, 1895
Place of BirthCotherstone, Yorkshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinThomas Lusby, Barnardo Home, Toronto
Trade / CallingFarmer
Service Details
Regimental Number401530
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentAugust 30, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 5, 1984
Age at Death89
Buried AtSt James Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario
PlotNorth Grave - Lot 354 - C Ravine

Lusby, Ernest

Ernest Lusby was born on 14 June 1895 in Cotherstone, Yorkshire in England. His mother was Catherine Canning who was born in 1859 in Liverpool. Catherine married William Gilray, a mariner, in November of 1877 in Liverpool. In February of 1880 she then married William Lawson, Catherine listed as a widow on the marriage record although her first husband later remarried in 1882. At the time of the 1881 census Catherine and her second husband were living in Liverpool where William, born in Cumberland, was working in an iron foundry. By 1883 they were living in the registration district of Wigton in Cumberland. It is not known if William died or if the marriage failed but by 1885 Catherine had entered a relationship with Thomas Lusby, a horse driver from Liverpool. Catherine and Thomas gave birth to son Charles in the fall of 1885 in Newcastle Upon Tyne in Northumberland. By the time of the birth of her son Thomas Dalton in 1894 Catherine was back in Liverpool, with Thomas Dalton, a general labourer, given as the father on Thomas’ birth record. Although Catherine later went by the name of Mrs Dalton, a marriage record was not found. By the next year, 1895, Catherine had reunited with Thomas Lusby, the couple giving birth to Ernest in Cotherstone where Thomas was working as a general labourer. From there the family moved to Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire where son John James was born in 1898. All the boys, including Thomas, assumed the surname of Lusby although Catherine and Thomas did not marry.

Hard times soon befell the family, with Thomas SR entering the Pateley Bridge Workhouse due to ill health (paralysis). In January of 1902 Thomas JR and Ernest were surrendered to the care of Mr Craig’s Shelter in Gateshead and then transferred to Barnardo’s in London. It appears that Catherine kept her son John James with her, Charles entered the care of Barnado’s by the next year, while Esther likely later married Michael Higgins in 1907 in the registration district of Tynemouth in Northumberland.

Between 1869 and the late 1930s over 100 000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help. After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing and receiving homes. (Library and Archives Canada)

On 27 March 1902, along with a large number of children from Barnardo’s, Ernest’s brother Thomas embarked for Canada aboard the Dominion. During his placements in Canada his surname was changed to Lusty. Ernest’s brother Charles arrived in Canada in July of 1903 aboard the Dominion with a Barnardo party, surname given as Lushby on the passenger list. Last trace found of Charles was in 1904 in Gelloe, Manitoba. Thomas later enlisted in Winnipeg, serving overseas with the 107th Pioneer Battalion and 2nd Battalion, Canadian Engineers.

With a party of Barnardo children, Ernest embarked from England on 30 March 1905 aboard the Kensington. Details of his early life in Canada are unknown. With occupation given as farmer and Thomas Lusby, Barnardo Home in Toronto as next of kin, Ernest enlisted with the 33rd Battalion on 30 August 1915 in Clinton, Ontario. Elsewhere in his service record it stated that he had no known relatives. His date and place of birth was given as 14 June 1894 in Newcastle in England. Previous service with a Military Force was listed as one year with the 98th Regiment in Kenora, Ontario. As a Private with the battalion Ernest embarked from Canada on the Laplander on 17 March 1916.

Once in England Ernest was transferred to the 36th Reserve Battalion in early July of 1916 and then on to the 1st Battalion for duty overseas, arriving at the unit on 22 August. In early October the battalion was billeted at Halloy-les-Pernois before moving into Albert, Somme. On 5 October headquarters were established at South Practice Trenches, with the battalion working all night digging trenches. Through the next two days there was intermittent enemy shelling activity and at some point Ernest sustained a concussion to his left ear. He was admitted to the No 24 General Hospital in Etaples on the 7th and then transferred to the No 4 General Hospital Dannes-Camiers on 14 November with acute bronchitis. Evacuated to England, Ernest was admitted to the Canadian Colchester Hospital on 5 December, then transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in 11 January 1917 where he was discharged on 6 February. On 16 March Ernest was admitted to the Military Hospital at Court Farm, Warlingham (vdg), discharged on 26 April. Following further treatment in England, it was decided that Ernest be returned to Canada, arriving on the Scandinavian on 23 June, on his way to London, Ontario. Treatment was received in London and Guelph (vdg, deafness, gleet) before Ernest was transferred to the Freeport Sanitarium in Kitchener, Ontario on 24 November 1917. A short time later he was apprehended for breaking into the Bank of Toronto in Waterloo and stealing a revolver, with the Toronto Star edition of 5 December reporting his guilty plea. Following his sentencing Ernest was imprisoned at Burwash Prison south of Sudbury and then later Kingston Penitentiary. Because of his conviction he was discharged from military service on 10 December 1917 in London, a later notification indicated that his service medals were forfeited.

Not a lot is known about Ernest’s life after the war. In 1928 he was picked up for questioning in Chatham, Ontario following a train robbery where it was found that he was not involved. A border crossing record of 1934 suggested that he had worked as a farm hand in the London, Ontario area from 1930-34. Ontario Voters lists placed an Ernest Lusby and his wife living in London in 1945 where he was working as a porter, in 1949 with wife Gertrude in Welland where he was working as a porter, in 1953 with Gertrude in Niagara Falls where he was working as houseman, and by 1962, with Gertrude, in the Rosedale/ St Paul area of Toronto where he was working as a messenger. It appears that Gertrude died or the relationship failed as by 1968 Ernest was living in the Greenwood area in Toronto with his wife Dorothy. Between 1968 and 1972 he worked as a checker and hospital employee. After living in Kenora, Ontario for a number of years, Ernest’s brother Thomas was living in Toronto by 1957 but it is not known if the brothers reconnected. Thomas died in 1963 and is interred in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough (Toronto).

Ernest died on 5 December 1984 and is interred in St James Cemetery in Toronto.

By Judy Stockham

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