Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 9, 1875
Place of BirthRochester, New York
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinWife- Ida F. Machin. Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingBarrister at Law (Ontario)
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion94th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 4, 1916
Age at Enlistment40
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 13, 1931
Age at Death56
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Machin, Harold Arthur Clement

‘My position in this war has been very small, but I have had the privilege of serving some six months on the front ‘during the period I spent in France amid the horrors of war and human suffering and misery and the war’s leveling effects, I felt that if I survived and returned I could never again view affairs through the same coloured glasses as I did in 1914-before the war.’

(Machin, Address in Ontario Legislature, 4 March 1919)

Harold Arthur Clement Machin, son of Reverend Charles John Machin and Emma Mary Louisa Biddlecombe, was born 9 May 1875 in Rochester, New York, USA. Youngest child in the family, his siblings included: Charles Atlantic (b. 1856), Winnifred (b. 1858), William (b. 1859), Julia (b. 1860), Wilfred Wycliffe (1862-1884), Rose Britannia (1864-1948), Victoria Mary Louisa (1868-1936), and Emily Flora (b. 1871). Harold’s parents were born, raised and married in England. His father worked as a missionary in the United States and Canada and the family travelled around residing at different times in Ontario, New York, Wisconsin and Newfoundland. By 1891 they were back in England.

Harold received his education in a boarding school in Beaconsfield, England where he met Arthur Albert Knight, brother of his future wife. He was often a guest at social events at Horner Grange, the Knight family mansion, which had been built from the fortune that Albert’s father, William Knight, had made as one of the discoverers of the Kimberly Diamond Mines in South Africa. Harold’s mother, Emma, died in 1892. The following year Harold and two of his sisters (Rose & Emily) returned to Canada. Harold studied law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. He articled in Rat Portage (now Kenora), Ontario.

Harold served as a Private in the Royal Canadian Regiment of the 1st Canadian Contingent in the 2nd Boer War. He saw actions at: Sunnyside – 01 Jan, 1900; Padeburg – 18 to 26 Feb, 1900; Poplar Grove – 07 Mar, 1900; Driefontein – 10 Mar, 1900; Hout Neck – 01 May, 1900; Vet River – 05/06 May, 1900; Zand River – 10 May, 1900; Pretoria – 04 Jan, 1901. In 1901 he was commissioned as a Subaltern, South African Constabulary. In 1902 he was promoted to Captain, South African Constabulary. He served in the Orange River Colony until the end of the war in May 19, 1905. Harold resigned in May, retaining his rank. He received the Queen’s Medal (South Africa) with 4 clasps and the King’s medal (South Africa) with 2 clasps.

In 1902 Harold married Ida Florence Knight in South Africa.   Their first daughter, Ida Annie Knight Machin was born on 08 December 1903 in South Africa. In 1905 the Machins came to Canada where Harold was called to the Ontario Bar and established his law practice in Kenora. His connections to the Knight family inspired an interest in mining and he and Ida spent some time in Northern Quebec prospecting for copper. Harold was president of Kenora Mines Limited and he acquired much mining property in the Lake of the Woods district including the Mikado mine.

Harold was the MPP for Kenora from 8 June 1908 to 23 September 1919 winning elections in 1908, 1911 and 1914.

Daughter, Barbara Machin, was born on 7 January 1914.

With WW1 raging in Europe, Harold Machin was called upon to command a new Battalion, the 94th, for overseas service. At age 40, he passed his medical exam on 04 January 1916 in Port Arthur and was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. On 9 June 1916, the Battalion left for Valcartier, Quebec for ‘Summer Camp’ as it was called. The 94th trained at Valcartier until June 13th when they sailed from Halifax for England on the RMS Olympic. Although the 94th remained a battalion on paper until July 27th, 1918, with an office at East Sandling, it actually ceased to exist on July 13th, 1916 when it was broken up and the men were transferred to the 17th and 32nd Reserve Battalions to be used as replacements for casualties in front line units. Lt. Col. Machin was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion until his transfer to the Canadian Pay Office on 21 August 1916. He was made CO of the 1st Canadian Labour Battalion and was deployed to France in January 1917. He served at the front for several months until he returned to Canada in September to oversee the enforcement of the Military Service Act.

In response to anti-conscription riots in Quebec, Machin was dispatched from Ottawa to investigate the situation. He reported to Prime Minister Borden that the rioting was ‘so bad ‘as to call for martial law and appointment of military governor immediately.’ He made a personal appeal for Nationalist leader Armand Lavergne to calm the mob.

Machin retook his seat in the Ontario Legislature in March 1919. He was a vocal opponent of the Ontario Temperance Act of 1916 and joined the anti-prohibitionist Citizen’s Liberty League. Referring to Canada’s record at the front, Machin asked ‘…what use was the sacrifice there made if we are coming back to Ontario to find our freedom taken away from us here?’

He concluded this speech at Queen’s Park, reaffirming:

‘The aim of our government, the aim of every government, whether it be this or municipal government, must be to see that the people are made happy and contented, that there is ample time for work, play and rest, and that the German word Verboten (forbidden) does not enter into our national life and meet us at every turn.’

Although Machin was defeated for re-election when he ran as an independent in October 1919, the Conservative Party later endorsed the repeal of the Temperance Act.

Mr. Machin was Liberal-Conservative candidate in the federal election of 1925 but he was stricken with illness and unable to direct his full efforts to the campaign.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Arthur Clement Machin died at his summer home on Shoal Lake on 13 October 1931 after a lengthy illness. He is buried in the Machin family plot at Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora with his father who died in 1910, his wife who died in 1950 and his eldest daughter Ida Cross who died in 1937.

After Harold’s death, his wife Ida and daughter Barbara continued with his mining business and in 1934 built a lodge on Shoal Lake. When they began taking in guests they named it Camp Gold Point. It was furnished with many articles from the Knight mansion in England. Some of these pieces are on display in the Victorian Parlor exhibit at Lake of the Woods Museum in Kenora. Barbara Machin died on 13 February 1978 and is also buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

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Harold’s grave marker was installed in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in 2018 by the Last Post Fund.

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