|Date of Birth||September 29, 1879|
|Place of Birth||Kineton, Warwickshire|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Annie Smart, 255 Keith Road West, North Vancouver|
|Trade / Calling||Shoemaker|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||1st Pioneer Battalion|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Vancouver, British Columbia|
|Date of Enlistment||October 12, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||35|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
Sergeant William Smart was the son of David Smart and Janet Bowie of Keewatin, Ontario. David and Janet were both born in Scotland. They were married there in 1878 and William was born the following year in Kineton, Warwickshire, England. David and his family were living in Old Stratford, Warwickshire when the 1881 census was taken but within a few years they had returned to Scotland. They had at least three more children: Janet (Jeanie), John Bowie and Agnes, all born in West Lothian, Scotland. They were living in Uphall, West Lothian for both the 1891 and 1901 censuses and David was employed as a stationary engine keeper
William immigrated to Canada around 1903 and settled in the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. He worked as the manager of a grocery store. He was married on 12 June 1906 to 18-year-old Annie Louise Green. Annie was the daughter of James Green and Margaret McLeod of Keewatin. She was the oldest of five children including her brother Alfred James. William’s parents arrived in Canada in June 1907 and they also settled in Keewatin. A month later William and Annie’s first child was born, a son named David. Around 1911 they moved to Vancouver, British Columbia along with Annie’s family. David worked as a grocery salesman and they had another son, Frank Lewis, around 1912.
The war started in August 1914 and William enlisted in Vancouver on 12 October 1915. He gave his birth date as 29 September 1879, his occupation as shoemaker and next of kin was his wife Annie who lived with her parents. William said he had served for 18 months with the 1st Scottish Horse. He signed up with the 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion and was promoted to Sergeant on 5 November 1915. His unit sailed from Montreal on 20 November and arrived in the UK ten days later. They spent three months in England before embarking for France on 9 March 1916.
William served in France for the next two years. Pioneer battalions worked closely with the engineers and spent a large part of their time at or near the front lines. Their work included mining, wiring, tunnelling, railway and road work, constructing water systems, and building and repairing trenches and dugouts. The Canadians were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in June 1916, the Somme Offensive that fall and the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. In May 1917 the 1st Pioneer Battalion became the 9th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops and William was transferred to the new unit. He had ten days leave in December 1916 and 15 days leave in November 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele.
In May 1918 William became ill with stomach problems and he reported to No. 5 Canadian Field Ambulance. He was invalided to England and admitted to No. 4 Canadian General Hospital in Basingstoke on 7 June. He recovered there for more than two months, returning to duty on 19 August. William was posted to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot and kept in the UK for another five months. He sailed from Liverpool on the SS Grampian on 24 January 1919 and arrived in St. John, New Brunswick on 2 February. He was given leave until 24 February and discharged in Vancouver two days later. His intended residence was Vancouver. Annie’s brother Alfred James Green was conscripted in January 1918 and he served for a year and a half in Canada and the UK.
When the 1921 census was taken Annie was still living in Vancouver. She was listed as separated and the two boys were with her. By 1934 she was recorded as a widow (in the federal voters lists). So far, nothing more is known about William and his date of death and place of burial have not been found. His father died in 1926 and his mother in 1945. They are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora, along with other family members. William’s wife Annie passed away in Vancouver in 1954 and she’s interred at Capilano View Cemetery.
William is commemorated on two plaques in Keewatin, the R. Douglas Fraser (Town of Keewatin) Roll of Honour and the Municipality of Keewatin “For King and Country” 1914-1918 plaque.
By Becky Johnson