Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 4, 1887
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of Kinfather, S C McGimsie of Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingContractor
Service Details
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion183rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment28
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 5, 1970
Age at Death83
Buried Atbody willed to UBC Faculty of Medicine Department of Anatomy

McGimsie, Samuel Charles

Samuel Charles McGimsie was born on 4 August 1887 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. His father Samuel Charles McGimsie, contractor,  was born in Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, the son of Scottish immigrants, and his mother Susan Charlotte George was born in Cobourg, Northumberland. The couple married in 1875 in Cobourg with Charlotte’s brother officiating the wedding. Their first child, Janet Margaret, was born in 1878, followed by William George in 1880, both  in Woodsville, Ontario. In the early 1880’s  the family relocated to Rat Portage via  Chicago and Winnipeg as Samuel found work in the construction of the CPR, seeing it through to its completion. He then went into the contracting/building business with RE Dorsett before striking out on his own. Over the years he constructed many of the large blocks and numerous homes in Rat Portage/Kenora. Another daughter, Adda, was born in 1882 but died in 1886. She is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

Charles signed his Officers’ Papers in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 15 February 1916, giving the 98th Regiment as his Unit of Active Militia. His occupation was given as contractor and his next of kin his father back in Kenora. After completing an officers’ course in Winnipeg that February and attached to the 94th Battalion, he was transferred to the 183rd Battalion in Winnipeg the same month.

Charles was found listed on the nominal roll of the 183rd Battalion that embarked from Halifax on 3 October 1916, 14 Officers and 335 Other Ranks on the Saxonia and 13 Officers and 431 Other Ranks on the Missanabie.

Once in England Charles was attached to the 128th Battalion for rations, quarters, discipline and duty. In February of 1917 he was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion and in March attended the Hythe School of Musketry, qualifying 2nd Class in both musketry and mechanisms of the Lewis Gun. Charles  was mentioned in a letter, along with a number of other Kenora fellows,  written by Private Brunsel to his wife back in Kenora, received in August,  while he was at the military camp hospital  at Shorncliffe in England.

In mid  July of 1917 Charles was seconded for duty with the Imperial Forces in France and was attached to Head Quarters of the 3rd Army, graded for pay as Staff Lieutenant 1st Class. With the end of the war, Charles was back in England by the end of March, embarking for Canada in mid July. A newspaper article of August of 1919 reported Charles’ return to Kenora.

Once home Charles was appointed Tax Assessor for the Town of Kenora in 1920, a position he held until his retirement in 1959. He married a former Kenora girl, Mildred Marie McDonald, in Winnipeg on 19 July 1924. It appears that the couple did not have any children. With the death of Mildred in 1942, Charles later married Beatrice (née Emma) MacKenzie, widow of Monty MacKenzie who was also mentioned in the soldier’s letter of 1917. The couple relocated to Vancouver in the mid 1960’s.

Predeceased by his mother Charlotte in 1933 and his father Samuel in 1936, both in Kenora, Charles died in Vancouver  on 5 May 1970, followed by Beatrice in 1989. Their bodies were willed to the University of British Columbia,  Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine.

Charles’ father Samuel was one of the early sponsors of hockey in Rat Portage/Kenora, building the first indoor rink, with electric lights, in 1896, and then later the first rink on the site of the Thistle Rink. Charles’ brother Billy played for the Kenora Thistles and was on the team when it won the Stanley Cup in 1907.

by Judy Stockham

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