|Date of Birth||September 19, 1892|
|Place of Birth||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Next of Kin||Alice Sigurdson (mother), Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Place of Enlistment||Port Arthur, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Post Office, Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||January 23, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||25|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||November 20, 1979|
|Age at Death||87|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||History Haven Block East, 6E-38-4|
Private Harold Edward Sigurdson signed up in Port Arthur, Ontario in January 1918 and served overseas with the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish). He returned home to Canada in May 1919.
Edward was the only child of Captain Harold and Alice Sigurdson of Kenora, Ontario. He was born in September 1892 and adopted by Harold and Alice from an orphanage in Winnipeg. Harold had served on Danish naval and merchant vessels for almost three decades, travelling the world and becoming a very experienced seaman. He married Alice Florence Nelson in Liverpool, England in 1888 and by the following year they were living in the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. At least four of Alice’s brothers and sisters also immigrated to Canada and her mother came in 1903, making her home in Rat Portage. Captain Harold was a skilled ship and boat builder and over the years many of his vessels would be seen plying the waters of Lake of the Woods.
Edward was 25 years old and working at the Rat Portage Box Factory when he signed his recruitment papers in January 1918. He was assigned to ‘H’ Company in the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. Just a month later he was on his way to the UK, embarking from Halifax on the SS Cretic and landing at Liverpool in early March. After six months of training with a reserve unit Edward was drafted to the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) and sent to France. When he joined his unit in the last weeks of the war, a period known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, they were in northern France very close to the Belgian border.
The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November and the 16th Battalion had a few days to celebrate before continuing their march east. They entered Belgium in mid-November and crossed into Germany on 6 December, spending a month there with other Canadian units as an occupying force. After a few more weeks in Belgium the battalion left for Le Havre on the coast of France on 22 March and returned to England a few days later. In late April Edward embarked for Canada on the SS Baltic, arriving in Halifax on 7 May and getting his official discharge on 11 May in Port Arthur.
After the war Edward returned to Kenora where he had a long career in the local forest and timber industry. He married Elizabeth Bastien in Toronto in 1932 and they raised a son and a daughter. Elizabeth had grown up in an orphanage and foster homes and in Kenora she became very involved in charitable organizations and volunteer activities. Edward and his wife both had a deep concern for the welfare of children and they served as foster parents for more than twenty years. Edward passed away in Lake of the Woods District Hospital on 20 November 1979, at age 87. His wife Elizabeth and son Gerald both died in 2006, and along with Edward and other family members they are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
Edward is commemorated on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.
By Becky Johnson
Photo of Rat Portage Box Factory staff courtesy of Lake of the Woods Museum Archives. Information and other photos kindly provided by Edward’s family.