Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 17, 1883
Place of BirthLost River, Quebec
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinDugall McMillan, father, Stratton, Ontario
Trade / CallingCarpenter
Service Details
Regimental Number153445
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJuly 2, 1915
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 18, 1971
Age at Death88
Buried AtValley View Memorial Gardens, Surrey, British Columbia

MacMillan, Roderick

Roderick McMillan was born on 17 June 1883 in the Lost River area of Harrington and Union in Quebec where his family farmed. He was the son of Dougald (Dugald) McMillan and Christie Ann McCrimmon. In later years the spelling of his surname was changed to MacMillan. Known children born to the family in Quebec were James Alexander (abt 1879), John (1881), Roderick, Ewen (Hugh) (1885), Katherine (Katie) (1887), Christy Ann (Annie) (1889), Jessie Mary (1892), Donald Neil (1895), and Helen Christy Elsie (1898). Sadly, Roderick’s mother died in 1902 in Lost River and by the 1911 Canada census his father and some of his siblings had relocated to Rainy River District in Northwestern Ontario to farm.

Roderick signed his attestation papers on 2 July 1915 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His occupation was given as carpenter and his father “Dugall McMillan” in Stratton, Ontario as next of kin. Active militia was listed as 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada. Roderick arrived in England on 5 September 1915 and was taken on strength with the 43rd Battalion at Shorncliffe. The following February of 1916 he arrived in France to serve with the battalion. That July he suffered a gunshot wound to the right arm and leg and spent eight days at the No 3 Divisional Rest Station, rejoining the unit on July 10th. Camped at the Brickyards near Albert in northern France, the 43rd Battalion moved into the front lines at the Somme on October 8th. Enemy shell fire was incessant and by the end of the day casualties were high: 10 killed, 226 wounded, and 224 missing. Suffering a gunshot wound to the neck, Roderick was one of the wounded. The next day he was admitted to the No 5 General Hospital in Rouen. Invalided to England, by the 19th he was a patient at the Queen’s Civil Hospital in Birmingham. Surgery was performed to try and remove a piece of shrapnel from Roderick’s neck but was unsuccessful. In late December he was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Bearwood Park in Wokingham, discharged on 17 January 1917. From there he was admitted to Moore Barracks for a few days. After going through a series of transfers in England and with limited movement in his neck, in June of 1918 it was decided that Roderick be returned to Canada. He was discharged from service as being medically unfit for further service on 20 August 1918 in Winnipeg, rank of Private.

Roderick’s brother Donald Neil enlisted with the 94th Battalion in December of 1915 in Rainy River, Ontario. He served overseas with the 52nd Battalion, returning to Canada in March of 1919 with discharge on demobilization on the 31st in Port Arthur, rank of Private.

Although he gave his intended place of residence after discharge as Stratton, Roderick returned to Winnipeg. On 5 February 1919, in Winnipeg, he married school teacher Etzell May Morrison. Born on 5 October 1893 in the RM of Springfield, Etzell was the daughter of Donald Roy Morrison and Eleanor Hope, her parents marrying in 1870 in Montreal. By the 1906 census her family was living in Winnipeg.

First living with Etzell’s parents in Winnipeg and giving birth to sons Arthur Roderick (1921), Keith Ross (1923), by 1926 and the birth of daughter Helen Dayle the family was living in Limerick, Saskatchewan. Back in Winnipeg at the time of the 1931 census, Roderick was working as a general farmer. However subsequent Voters lists for Winnipeg gave his occupation as engineer. Moving to Vancouver around 1947, Roderick first worked as an engineer and latterly as a janitor.

Etzell passed away on 11 January 1958 in the Vancouver General Hospital. By 1966 Roderick had relocated to Kenora, Ontario where his son Keith and family was living. Living at Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora, he died on 22 July 1971. Although his obituary gave his place of death as Pinecrest, his service record stated that he died at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. At the time of his death Roderick was survived by son Keith of Kenora, daughter Dayle (John) Stanley of Vancouver, five grandchildren, and sisters Elsie (Roy) McTaggart and Annie (Nelson) Marsh, both of Fort Frances. He was predeceased by his father Dougald (1932, Dilke Township, Stratton Cemetery), his son Arthur (1937, Winnipeg, Elmwood Cemetery), and siblings Hugh (1937, Rainy River Cemetery), John (1938, Fort Frances), James (1968, Eston Saskatchewan Cemetery), Katie (Albert) Reid (1969, Fort Frances), Neil (1970, Stratton Cemetery) and Jessie (Otto) Meyers (1970, Rainy River Cemetery). Annie later died in 1978 and Elsie in 1989. Roderick and Etzell’s son Hugh died in 2002 in Kelowna followed by daughter Dayle in 2008 in Vancouver. Roderick and Etzell are interred in the Valley View Memorial Gardens in Surrey, British Columbia.

By Judy (Stockham) Thorburn

Grave marker photograph by markgord (#49368345),