Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 18, 1893
Place of BirthMaybole, Ayrshire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinWife- Anne McKellar., Keewatin P.O. Ontario, Canada.
Trade / CallingTeamster
Service Details
Regimental Number2383454
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin P.O. Ontario, Canada.
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 10, 1918
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceUnknown
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 27, 1981
Age at Death88
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotRge 1E, Lot 30, grave 3

McKellar, David Gibson

Birth and Early Life:   David Gibson McKellar was born May 18th, 1893 in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland, the youngest child of Peter and Grace (Gibson) McKellar. Peter, who was born 1864 in Helensburgh, and Grace, who was born in 1864 in Sandiford, St. Quivox, were married in Maybole in 1886.   As their family grew, Peter held several jobs in Maybole and Glasgow. Their last known residence in Scotland, according to the 1901 Scottish census, was at Red Brae, Maybole. The family consisted of David, his parents and three older siblings: John Low Menzies (born 1887), Elizabeth Anderson (born 1889), and Catherine Jane Hector (born 1891). David, at age 8, was listed as a scholar (student).

Family Names: This is a family who followed a typical Scottish tradition naming their sons and daughters after relatives.   Elizabeth was named for her Gibson grandmother; Catherine, for her McKellar aunt; and, David was named after his Gibson grandfather. Their brother, John, was named for their McKellar grandfather; however, John’s middle names honoured two of Peter’s employers. It is interesting to point out that David, John and Catherine also followed this naming tradition with their children. It is also important to point out that each of these four siblings had nicknames that were used throughout their lives.   John was called Jack; Elizabeth was Bessie and Auntie Bette; Catherine was called Kate; and David was known as Dave.

Arrival in Canada: 1907 and 1909 were significant years for the McKellar family. With the expectation of better employment opportunities in Canada, particularly at the Keewatin Lumber Company, Peter and eldest son, John, arrived in Halifax on the Pretorian, with Keewatin as their destination.   Two years later, Grace, David and his sisters followed, leaving Glasgow on August 14, 1909 and sailing to Canada on the Ionian, of the Allan line.   On the ship’s manifest, David’s occupation was listed as machinist.

Life before the war: By 1911, according to the Canadian census of that year, the McKellar family was living at 5 Ottawa Street in Keewatin.   Catharine was at Normal School in Saskatchewan at the time so was not included.   David’s occupation was recorded as ‘Teamster, Saw Mill’.   His religion was stated as Presbyterian. On December 6th, 1917, at the age of 24, he married Anna May Hill, daughter of John and Ann Bell (Dornan) Hill of Keewatin.

War Service: In 1917, David was drafted under the Military Service Act of 1917. His Military Service Act Letter was numbered 693616T.C. David had his medical on October 17th in Kenora and was approved for service through the Port Arthur office, effective January 10th, 1918. He was posted to ‘H’ Company, 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment, a unit of the Canadian Contingent Expeditionary Force. David’s Regimental Number was 2383454.

Private McKellar named his wife, Anne, as next of kin and the assignee of his pay. He was described as 24 years, five months of age, had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 137 pounds and his chest expansion was from 31 to 34 inches. David was privately insured through North American Life Insurance company and had planned for his premiums to be paid while he was in the service.

David’s time in service was brief. Within just a few months, he was diagnosed with Valvular Disease of the Heart with symptoms of Hyperthyroidism and ‘Effort Syndrome’ that prevented him from being able to carry out drills. Although his heart sounded normal, his pulse rate was 150 beats per minute. On April 16th, 1918, a Medical Board in Port Arthur deemed David medically unfit for service; and, on May 7, 1918, he was discharged pursuant to the Board’s decision: ‘Contingent order 104. Para. 2262. and Routine order 215. Para. 6. Effective 7-5-18. (‘Category E’)’. His overall conduct was ‘Very Good’.

All records indicate Anne’s address was Keewatin, except one. David’s last pay and separation allowance, up to May 7th, was sent to her at 316 Pearl Street, Port Arthur. It is not known when David and Anne returned to Keewatin; however, this was his anticipated destination, upon discharge. David was commemorated on both the Municipality of Keewatin ‘For King and Country’ plaque, and, the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honor.

Life after the War:Following the war, David returned to the Keewatin Lumber Company and worked as a scaler and grader for several years and later worked at the Keewatin Flour Mill.   In the 1921 census, Peter, Grace and their daughter, Bessie, were living in Winnipeg. The other family members remained in Keewatin: John was married to Elizabeth (Lizzie Davis); and, Kate had married Alexander (Sandy) Johnston. David and Anna were living at 271 Bay Street, where they raised their four children: Hector Peter (married 1. Jessie King 2. Eileen Bamford); Douglas Gibson (married Dorothy Baseley, a war bride from England); Margaret May (married Keith Affleck); and, John ‘Ledger’ (married Mary Batiuk). David and Anna had 11 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. All three sons served in World War II.

David became a member of the St. Andrews United Church and was active in the community serving on Keewatin Town Council; sitting on sports committees; and, supporting and working with the Liberal party throughout the district.   He was a member of Minnetonka Lodge No. 292 and held several offices in the 6th IOOF Grand Lodge of Ontario. In 1955, he joined the Keewatin Branch #13 of the Royal Canadian Legion. David retired from the Keewatin Flour Mill in 1958.

Passing of Family Members: Mother, Grace, died in 1924 and father, Peter, in 1948.   Brother, John, died in 1973 and sisters Bessie in 1977 and Kate in 1985. They are all buried in Kenora.   Two of David’s sons died in British Columbia: Douglas in 1976 and Hector in 1989.   Anna, his wife of 51 years, died in 1968. Margaret and ‘Ledger’ died in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Both are buried in the Lake of the Woods cemetery in Kenora.

Death and Place of Burial:   David died December 27, 1981, in Kenora, Ontario.   He was buried in the same plot as Anna, on December 31, in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Range 1E, Lot 30, Grave 3.

By grandniece, Susan (Hillman) Brazeau with respect for my Uncle Dave.   In support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died.

Sources: 1911 Canadian Census; 1921 Canadian Census; Canadian Voters’ Lists; Canadian Passenger Lists 1904, 1907; Canadian births, marriages and deaths
Genes Passenger List Leaving the United Kingdom
Keewatin Legion Branch #13 Application
Kenora Daily Miner & News: Obituary, 1981
Library and Archives Canada: First World War Personnel Service Files
Oral Family Source: John Ledger McKellar (2016)
Scotlandspeople: Births, 1901 Census

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