Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 28, 1886
Place of BirthMoose Factory, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSutherland Norquay, father, 408 McGregor Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingIronworker
Service Details
Regimental Number423509/425165
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion27th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 1, 1915
Age at Enlistment28
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 17, 1973
Age at Death86
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Norquay, Donald

Donald Norquay was born on 28 November 1886 in Moose Factory, Ontario. His father Sutherland Norquay was from Walls and Flotta in the Orkney Islands while his mother Elizabeth McBean was from Moose Factory, her father also a Scottish immigrant. As was Elizabeth’s father, it is likely that Sutherland immigrated to Canada/Moose Factory as an indentured servant with the Hudson’s Bay Company. According to an online family tree, Sutherland and Elizabeth married on 4 February 1886 in Moose Factory. Donald was their first born child, followed by Gordon (1889), Margaret (abt 1891), and twins Annie and Frances (1893). Sadly it appears that Frances died in infancy. By the time of the birth of son Alexander the family had moved to Mapleton in the RM of St Andrews just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Son William was born in 1897, passing away the next year. Following the death of Elizabeth two months after William, the family unit disintegrated. At the time of the 1901 census Margaret, Annie, and Alexander were living in a Presbyterian children’s home in Winnipeg while the two older children, Donald and Gordon, were living with their father in Winnipeg where he was working as a labourer. By the time of the 1911 census the family was back together and living on Aberdeen Avenue, with Sutherland working as a labourer in a lumberyard and Donald as a bridge ironworker. Gordon was living elsewhere.

With occupation given as ironworker and his father Sutherland in Winnipeg as next of kin, Donald signed his first attestation paper on 1 January 1915 with the 44th Battalion in Winnipeg, service number 423509. He reattested on 21 May 1915 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, with the 45th Battalion, service number 425165. Although the nominal roll for the 45th Battalion indicates that the battalion embarked for England on 1 April 1916, according to his service record Donald embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Lapland with the battalion on 13 March 1916.

By May of 1916 Donald had been transferred to the 27th Battalion, taken on strength in the field on the 8th. The battalion was authorized on 7 November 1914 and embarked for Great Britain on 17 May 1915. It disembarked in France on 18 September 1915, where it fought as part of the 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war.

On 18 August 1917 in the vicinity of Lens, Donald sustained multiple gunshot/shrapnel wounds to the head, arm, and leg, deemed severe. On the 20th he was admitted to the No 18 General Hospital Dannes Camiers. Invalided to England, he was admitted to the Edmonton Military Hospital on the 30th. In late September Donald was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Hillingdon House in Uxbridge and then on to the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow in mid October. By the 8th of November Donald was back at Hillingdon House, discharged on the 27th to the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital. Recovery was slow and not all of the shrapnel could not be removed from his body. He suffered from headaches and impaired hearing as well as movement limitations of his arm, hand, and leg. Donald was returned to Canada, arriving in Halifax aboard the Olympic on 13 February 1918. He was discharged as medically unfit on 11 March in Winnipeg.

Both of Donald’s brothers enlisted and went overseas during the war. Alexander enlisted with the 44th Battalion in 1915, transferring to the 8th Battalion once overseas and taken on strength in the field on 22 July. Wounded in early September of 1918 he was returned to England and eventually to Canada in February of 1919. Living in British Columbia, Donald’s brother Gordon enlisted in New Westminster in March of 1915 with the 47th Battalion. Once in England was was transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion, to the 7th Battalion, and then on to the 8th Battalion in late September of 1915 where he would have been reunited with his brother Alexander. Less than a month later Gordon died of gunshot wounds to the chest at the No 3 Canadian Field Ambulance. Gordon is interred in the Maple Leaf Cemetery located 14 kilometres south of Ieper town centre. His medals and decorations and plaque and scroll were sent to Donald after the war. Gordon is commemorated for his service on the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg.

After the war Donald returned to Winnipeg and his work as a bridgeman. Sadly his father had died in Winnipeg in late November of 1916. On 29 August 1925 in Kenora, Ontario, Donald married widow Mary Jane Harrington. Born about 1884 in East Gwillimbury near Newmarket, Ontario, Mary Jane was the daughter of John Broderick and Margaret Woodcock. She had married James Albert Harrington in 1905, the couple settling in Owen Sound, Ontario. It appears that they gave birth to four daughters and a son before James died in 1917 in Newmarket. Although both were living in Kenora at the time, it is likely that Donald and Mary Jane lived in Winnipeg before Donald retired from the Dominion Bridge Company. He was a member of the Fort Rouge #97 Branch of the Canadian Legion as well as the Kenora Branch, transferring in 1969. The couple were found on a 1962 Voter’s list for Kenora, living on the Anderson Branch Road just outside of town.

Predeceased by his brother Alexander in 1947 in an accident in British Columbia, wife Mary Jane on 25 August 1968 in Kenora, Donald died on 17 May 1973 at the Kenora General Hospital. He had been a residence of the Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by his sister Margaret (Frank) Walker of Ottawa and Annie (Thomas, deceased) Ryan of Winnipeg, as well as stepchildren, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Margaret later died in 1974 in Ottawa and Annie in 1981 in Winnipeg. Along with Mary Jane, Donald is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Judy Stockham

Family photograph as found on the public McLeod/McBean family tree on

Norquay-Donald-2 Norquay-Donald-3 Norquay-Donald-4 Norquay-Donald-5 Norquay-Donald-6 Norquay-Donald-7

Donald’s grave marker was installed in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in 2018 by the Last Post Fund.

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