|Date of Birth||October 17, 1887|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Charles Edward McMurdie, father, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Business manager|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||417 Moses Ryder Block, Edmonton, Alberta|
|Date of Enlistment||March 20, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||28|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 29, 1918|
|Age at Death||31|
|Buried At||Ontario Cemetery, Sains-les-Marquion, France|
|Plot||II. C. 10.|
According to his birth registration*, Edward Alphonse McMurdie was born on 17 October 1887 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. Born in Lambeth, Surrey, England, father Charles McMurdie had immigrated to Canada around 1870 while his mother Catherine (née Sullivan) McMurdie was from Peterborough, Ontario. Although Charles was found in the Rat Portage area for the 1881 Canada census, the couple had married on 4 October 1881 across the Ontario border in Erie, Pennsylvania where their first child Marie Josephine was born.
By the 1891 Canada census the family was living in Rat Portage and had grown. Household members were Charles and Catherine, and children Marie Josephine (b 1883), Catherine Gertrude (b 1984), Charles (b 1885), Edward Alphonse (b 1887), and Joseph Francis (b 1891). For a number of years Charles worked as an engineer/machinist on the steamboat D L Mather, plying the waters of Lake of the Woods. Tragedy struck the family in 1895 when Marie Josephine died at only 12 years of age. On 4 June 1907, Gertrude married James Horan, son of John and Mary Ann (née McFadden) of Seaforth, Ontario. By the 1911 Canada census both families were living side by side on First Street in Kenora. Having finished high school, young Edward was working as a clerk in a grocery store.
When Edward signed his attestation papers on 20 March 1916, he was living in Edmonton, occupation given as buyer. By May he signed his Officers’ Declaration Paper, qualifying for rank of Lieutenant as having served for 8 years with the 98th Regiment in Kenora. With the 218th Battalion and having had another promotion, Captain Edward Alphonse McMurdie embarked from Halifax aboard the Southland on 17 February 1917. Based in Edmonton, the 218th had begun recruiting in early 1916.
Once overseas Edward was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot in March and two weeks later to the 9th Reserve Battalion. In July he proceeded overseas for service with the 49th Battalion, another Edmonton based battalion, reverting to the rank of Lieutenant so that he could go to the front. In early August he spent two weeks with the 3rd Canadian Entrenching Battalion, joining the 49th in the field later that month.
Edward sustained a shrapnel wound to his neck in late October and was admitted to the No 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station. Invalided to England in early November, he spent close to three weeks at the Miss Pollock Hospital in London. He then spent the first 6 months of 1918 with the 2nd Canadian Convalescent Depot, seconded from duty from the Alberta Regimental Depot. In September he was back at the front with the 49th Battalion, taken on strength on the 12th.
Just two weeks later, Lieutenant Edward Alphonse McMurdie was reported as killed in action on 29 September 1918. From the CEF burial register for Edward:‘Killed in Action’ During the attack on Tilloy he was killed by shrapnel from an enemy shell. Edward is interred in the Ontario Cemetery, Sains-les-Marquion which lies on the road from Arras to Cambrai.
Edward’s mother Catherine died in 1923 and his father Charles in 1932. For a number of years before his death Charles had worked as superintendent of the power plant. Both are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. His sister Gertrude’s husband James Horan had enlisted 15th January 1916 and on 25 October of the same year he was also reported as killed in action. Gertrude remained in Kenora, raising their three children Marion, James and Francis Joseph. Edward’s brother Charles married Zella Warner and lived for the most part in Michigan although Charles later died in Los Angeles, California. Edward’s younger brother Joseph McMurdie enlisted on 5 June 1916 in Kenora, serving overseas with the Army Service Corps. He died in Kenora on 25 December 1948. It appears that he never married.
Lieutenant Edward Alphonse McMurdie is commemorated on page 463 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, on the Kenora Keewatin High School plaque, and on the Notre Dame du Portage Roman Catholic Church Memorial in Kenora.
by Judy Stockham
grave marker photograph: International Wargraves Photography Project as found on findagrave.com
*birth registration: Archives of Ontario, Archives Series MS929, Reel 80; date given in attestation papers as 17 September 1889, and on his Officer’s Papers as 17 September 1890