Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 12, 1899
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Margaret Prynn (mother), Middlechurch, Manitoba
Trade / CallingGlove maker
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number830582
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion44th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentMiddlechurch, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 3, 1916
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 30, 1967
Age at Death68
Buried AtFairview Cemetery, Roland, Manitoba

Prynn, Ernest Hazen

Private Ernest Hazen Prynn enlisted with the 144th Battalion in January 1916, at age 16. He served overseas for two and a half years and returned to Canada in April 1919.

Ernest was the only son of William Prynn and Margaret Ann McDonald of East St. Paul, Manitoba. William was born in Ontario and Margaret in Manitoba. They were married in 1898 in Rat Portage, Ontario and Ernest was born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) on 12 June 1899. By 1901 the family had moved to the RM of St. Andrews in Manitoba. Two daughters were born there, Kathleen Jane (Kay) in 1901 and Helen in 1907. When the 1911 census was taken Margaret and the children were living in Selkirk with her father, Alexander McDonald. She was listed as a widow but a record of her husband’s death hasn’t been found.

The war entered its second year in August 1915 and Ernest enlisted that winter. He signed up on 3 January 1916 in Winnipeg, joining the 144th Battalion (Winnipeg Rifles). He was just 16 years old at the time but he passed himself off as 18, giving a birth date of 12 October 1897. His occupation was glove maker and next of kin was his widowed mother Margaret. After training in Manitoba over the summer the 144th Battalion headed overseas that fall, embarking from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 18 September and arriving at Liverpool about a week later. On 13 January 1917 Ernest was drafted to a front line unit, the 44th Battalion, and sent to France. The battalion was in the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division, and he joined them in the field in early February.

In April 1917 the Canadians captured Vimy Ridge then spent several months holding the new front line and taking part in further operations in the Vimy area. In July the Canadian Corps was ordered to capture the city of Lens but General Currie instead supported a plan to take the high ground to the north of Lens. The Canadians began training for what would be the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917). At the time soldiers were required to be 19 years old before serving in a front line unit. It was learned that Ernest was a minor and he was ‘withdrawn from firing line’ on or about 24 August. He was sent to the 4th Canadian Infantry Base Depot, to be retained there until 12 June 1918 when he turned 19 years old.

Starting in September 1917 Ernest attended the 1st Army School. In March 1918 he had two weeks leave in the UK and in April and May he spent five weeks at No. 51 General Hospital in Г‰taples getting treatment for vd. He was discharged to duty on 19 May and he returned to 1st Army School. On 8 November he was transferred to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp and three days later the Armistice ended hostilities on the Western Front. Ernest was back in England in January 1919 and he served with the Manitoba Regiment Depot for three months. He sailed for Canada in mid-April on the SS Adriatic, arriving in Halifax about a week later. He was discharged on demobilization on 24 April in Winnipeg.

When the 1921 census was taken Ernest was living in East St. Paul with his mother and two sisters and working as a mechanic at a garage. Sadly, his sister Helen died in 1925, at age 18, and she’s buried in Middlechurch Cemetery (St. Paul’s Anglican). Ernest was married in Winnipeg on 27 October 1930. His wife, Harriet Isabel Duff, was born in Winnipeg in November 1914. Her father, Kenneth Gordon Duff, was born in Nova Scotia and he was a war veteran who had served for three years in Canada, Great Britain and France. Her mother, Isabel Doris MacDonald, was born in the U.S. Harriet was almost sixteen when she married Ernest and their marriage ended at some point.

In federal voters lists compiled in 1934, 1940 and 1945 Ernest was listed in the RM of Springfield, which included East St. Paul. He was living with his mother and sister Kay and working as a mechanic. Sometime in the late 1940s he was hired at the Dauphin River Fish Hatchery at Anama Bay on Lake Winnipeg, where he served as the superintendent for about fifteen years. He was married again on 14 June 1952 in Winnipeg. His wife, Agnes Helen McLaren, was born in 1909 in Roland, Manitoba. She was one of eight children of David Barr McLaren, a farmer, and Agnes Jane Stewart, who were both from Ontario.

Ernest and his wife lived in Anama Bay and they had one daughter, Kathy. Ernest’s mother passed away in November 1952, at age 86, and she’s buried at Middlechurch with her daughter Helen. Ernest retired around 1965 and he and his wife moved to her hometown of Roland. He passed away at Carman Memorial Hospital on 30 July 1967, at age 68, and his funeral was held in Roland two days later. His wife Agnes died at home on 3 July 1971, at age 61. They are both buried at Fairview Cemetery in Roland. Ernest’s sister Kathleen (Kay) Prynn passed away in Winnipeg in 1987.

By Becky Johnson

Prynn-Ernest-Hazen-90 Prynn-Ernest-Hazen-91 Prynn-Ernest-Hazen-92 Prynn-Ernest-Hazen-93 Prynn-Ernest-Hazen-94 Prynn-Ernest-Hazen-95
Cemetery photo courtesy of Darryl Toews, Manitoba Historical Society website

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