Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 14, 1897
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn Milliard, father, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingSwitchman, CPR
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number2383978
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMay 10, 1918
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 14, 1977
Age at Death80
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Milliard, John Joseph

John Joseph Milliard was born on 14 July 1897 in Norman, Ontario. His parents, Joseph Jean and Marie (née Lebel) Milliard, were both originally from the Kamouraska area in Quebec. The couple had married 2 July 1889 in Rat Portage (later named Kenora), Ontario.  Eventually moving  to nearby Keewatin, the family grew. Children included Rose Alma (1894-1929), John, Rennie (1899-1974), Alfred Louis (1901-1936), Albert Horace (1906-1977) and Mary Lisa (1910-abt1910). Over the years John’s father worked in a lumber yard and then later as a carpenter.

John signed his recruitment papers in Port Arthur on 10 May 1918, having completed his physical examination in November of 1917. With occupation given as switchman, he was 20 years old. As a Private with the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment, John embarked for overseas aboard the City of Vienna but the ship ran aground off Sambro Island near Halifax on 2 July. On 6 July he re-embarked aboard the Thongwa, and once in England he was taken on strength with the 18th Reserve Battalion. That November he was drafted to the 52nd Battalion in France/Belgium, joining the unit on the 14th. With the end of the war he returned to England in mid February 1919. He embarked for Canada on 17 March and was discharged from service on 31 March in Port Arthur.

After the war, John returned to the Kenora/Keewatin area. On 6 October 1920, he married Esther Charlotte Halverson, daughter of Sven and Ida (Johnson) Halverson. John and Esther went on to have eight children, four girls and four boys. John continued to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway, promoted to yard foreman in 1924. From an employees book at the Kenora Railroaders Museum: ‘John was adept with his photographic memory and could remember the numbers of box cars that were moved to different locations on his shift.’ He retired as switch foreman on 5 August 1962, having worked for almost 50 years, starting his career as a car checker in Keewatin on 1 September 1912.

Predeceased by his father (1927) and mother (1958) and all of his siblings, John died on 14 November 1977, followed by his wife Esther in 1996. They are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by his eight children, twenty one grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren.

John’s brother Rene also served during the war, going overseas with the 230th Battalion and transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps. In August of 1919 the brothers were honoured in a recognition service by the town of Keewatin, presented with badges and medals at the time of the demonstration. They are commemorated for their service on the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country plaque.

By Judy Stockham

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