Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Place of BirthLittle River, Codroy, Newfoundland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAlex C McIsaac, father, Inverness, Nova Scotia
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental NumberA39066/187647
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion78th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 29, 1914
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 7, 1948
Buried AtRidgelawn Cemetery, Gary, Indiana

McIsaac, Murdock

Murdock McIsaac was born in Little River, Codroy in Newfoundland. Differing dates of birth were given of 8 May 1887 and 8 May 1888 on attestation, and according to his later naturalization and death records, his date of birth was 3 November 1989. He was the son of Alexander C and Isabella McIsaac who farmed and fished in the Codroy area. By the early 1900’s the family had moved to Inverness, Cape Breton to work in the coal mines and then on to New Waterford. Although there were likely others, known children born to the family were Archibald (Archie) (1884), Angus (1889), Ronald, (abt 1891), Daniel (1892), Mary (abt 1893), John (abt 1899), and Neil (abt 1906). Given that Angus was born in May of 1889, it is likely that Murdock was born in 1887.

On 29 December 1914, in Kenora, Ontario, Murdock enlisted with the 44th Battalion. His date of birth was given as 8 May 1887, occupation as labourer, and his father Alex back in Inverness as his next of kin. The Kenora volunteers were briefly attached to the 44th Battalion but when the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion was organized in mid-March of 1915 they were transferred to the new unit. It was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora fellows were sent there in June to join the rest of the battalion, the local paper reporting on their departure from Kenora. However in early August Murdock was struck off strength as a deserter.

On 2 November 1915, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Murdock signed his second attestation papers. Using the alias of Daniel McDonald, his date of birth was given as 8 May 1888, occupation as labourer, and his mother “Elizabeth McDonald” in Inverness as next of kin. However his pay was assigned to himself in an account set up in Dryden, Ontario. As a Private with the 90th Battalion, he embarked for England aboard the Olympic on 31 August 1916. Once in England he was taken on strength with the 11th Reserve Battalion and then transferred to the 78th Battalion that December, arriving in France on the 23rd.

Murdock spent the month of March 1917 on command to the 176th Tunnelling Company, rejoining the 78th Battalion on April 3rd in time for the Battle of Vimy Ridge. During the attack the 78th was a followup battalion to the 38th, 72nd, and 73rd Battalions and was meant to exploit gains made by their initial attack. Unfortunately an intact German trench held up the attack and the 78th were hit by a German counterattack. The battalion lost 75 killed, 261 wounded and 159 missing.

Following the battle of Vimy Ridge, the 78th Battalion stayed in the Vimy area. Sustaining a severe gunshot/shrapnel wound to his left arm on April 26th, Murdock was admitted to the No 13 General Hospital in Boulogne the next day. Surgery was performed to remove the shrapnel and he was invalided to England in early May, spending the next six months in various hospitals undergoing treatment as the wound had become septic. Murdock was invalided to Canada, arriving in Halifax aboard the Araguaya on October 25th. Once in Canada he spent a week at the Manitoba Military Convalescent Hospital in Winnipeg and from there he was a patient at Moxham Hospital in Halifax. In August of 1918 he was transferred to the Ross Hospital in Cape Breton Island, a private house/estate that the Ross family opened to returning veterans in need of care. Murdock was discharged from service as medically unfit on 11 December 1918 in Halifax. His intended residence was given as Sydney, Cape Breton Island.

With occupation given as baker, in December of 1922 Murdock crossed the border into the United States. He was on his way to Gary, Indiana where his brother Daniel was living. The following March Mary Elizabeth (Minnie) McQuarrie arrived in Gary. Born in 1897 in the same area of Newfoundland as Murdock, the couple wed on 22 May 1923. Daughter Mary Ellen was born in July of 1924 but sadly she died on 3 January 1926, spinal meningitis a contributing factor in her death. The day before she died Minnie gave birth to son John Francis.

Over the years Murdock worked as a guide setter in a steel mill. At the time of the 1930 US census he and son John were boarding at the home of Joseph and Julia McGilivrey in Gary, Joseph also working as a guide setter. Minnie’s whereabouts were not found. For the 1940 census the family was reunited and living on Garfield Street in Gary.

Murdock died on 7 January 1948 at the Mercy Hospital in Gary following a lingering illness (cancer). At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Mary and son John, his mother Isabella and brother John in Sydney, Nova Scotia, as well as a sister in Boston. Minnie later married widower Harry Edward Colstock and died in 1976 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Murdock is interred in the Mount Mercy Cemetery in Gary.

By Judy Thorburn

Newspaper obituary notices supplied by Lake County Public Library.

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