Simmons, Archibald Erastus
Archibald Erastus (Archie) Simmons was born on 20 July 1894 in Wingham, Ontario. According to their marriage record his father Archibald Erastus Simmons was from London, Ontario while his mother Rachel Ellen Rankin was from Listowel, Ontario, elsewhere given as Gowanstown. The couple were living in St Thomas, Ontario when they married there on 10 June 1884. Shortly after the marriage they moved to Wingham where Archibald Sr worked as a printer. Children born to the family were Ernest Edward (1886), Eva Caroline Isabella (1887), Harper Crawford (1889), William (1891-1891), William John (1892), Archie, Alice Maud (1897), Richard Robert (1899-1899), Isabelle Winnifred (1902), Gertrude May (1906), and Margaret Emma (1908). At the time of the 1901 census the family was living in London, Ontario but they returned to Wingham where Archibald Sr died of typhoid fever in 1908. By the 1911 census for Wingham, Archie was working as an apprentice for a stove foundry. It appears that a short time later most of the family moved to Brandon, Manitoba.
On 23 July 1914, in Brandon, Archie married Eva Dilley. Born on 14 March 1898 in Langford in the registration district of Biglesewade, Bedfordshire in England, Eva was the daughter of Harry Dilley and Mary Ann Bryant. The family immigrated to Canada in 1906, arriving aboard the Empress of Ireland on 7 July, the passenger list indicating that they were on their way to Brandon. That fall Archie and Eva gave birth to daughter Grace Irene.
Archie enlisted with the 45th Battalion on 24 March 1915 in Brandon. His occupation was given as store man and his wife Eva in Brandon as next of kin. Previous military service was listed as one year with the 33rd Battalion. Along with his brother Harper
who had enlisted a few days after Archie, with rank of Private he arrived in England on 25 March 1916 aboard the Lapland
. Shortly after arrival the fellows were transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion. In mid April of 1917 Archie proceeded overseas to the Canadian General Base Depot in France for duty as a bandsman. During the war military bands were a key element in maintaining the morale of the soldiers. Bands played for units, played concerts for the wounded at Army hospitals and also played concerts at many recreation areas for soldiers and in local French towns. The music/songs helped to bring solidarity to groups, diminish fear, and reduce the boredom, frustration, and monotony of military life. In late November of 1917 Archie was granted a two week leave followed by a second one in late November of 1918. With the end of the war Archie returned to England in mid February of 1919 and embarked for Canada aboard the Canada
on 24 March. He was discharged from service in Brandon on 7 April.
Archie’s brother William enlisted in January of 1915 in Winnipeg and served overseas for the duration of the war with the 28th Battalion. He returned to Canada in May 1919. First transferring from the 11th Reserve Battalion to the Canadian Field Artillery, while in France his brother Harper requested and was granted a transfer to the 28th Battalion to serve with his brother. He returned to Canada in July of 1919.
Shortly before Archie went overseas, the couple gave birth to son Herbert Archibald (Bill) in February 1916. By the time of the 1921 census the family was living in Fort William, Ontario where Archie was working as a car cleaner for the city. Other children born to Archie and Eva were Harry Frederick (1921), Dorothy Mary (1924), and Helen Gertrude (1929). The family were eventually to make Kenora, Ontario their home where Archie worked as a letter carrier for thirteen years before becoming caretaker of the Carmichael Block in later years. He was a member of Knox United Church and the Kenora town band.
Archie died on 13 October 1976 in the Birchwood Terrace Nursing Home in Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by his daughters Irene (Jack) Woelke of Plumis, Manitoba, Dorothy (Mervin) Dowd of Winnipeg, Helen (Peter) Plante of Kenora and sons Herbert of Port Credit and Harry of Kenora. He was also survived thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren and by sisters Alice (William) Campbell of Winnipeg (d 1984), Gertrude (William) Good (d 1981), Grace (Robert) Dennison (d 1991), Isobelle (John) Manning (d 1982), and Margaret (Robert) Way (d 1996), all of Calgary. Archie was predeceased by his father, his mother Rachel in 1957 in Calgary, and his wife Eva on 13 January 1970 in Kenora. His siblings Ernest had died in 1912 in Wingham, Harper in 1952 in Fort Frances, William in 1962 in Los Angeles, and Eva (Percy) Brown in 1971 in Brandon, as well as the two brothers in infancy. Archie and Eva are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.