|Date of Birth||October 10, 1883|
|Place of Birth||Thurso, Caithness County|
|Next of Kin||James Sutherland (father), Meikle Rhynie, Rosshire, Scotland|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Engineer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||October 22, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||31|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||November 21, 1915|
|Age at Death||32|
|Buried At||Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Belgium|
|Plot||I. E. 19.|
Private Benjamin Sutherland enlisted with the 27th Battalion in October 1914. He arrived in France with the 2nd Canadian Division in September 1915 and two months later he was killed by an enemy sniper.
Benjamin was born in October 1883 in Thurso, Caithness County, Scotland, a coastal village on the very northern tip of the country. His parents, James Sutherland and Janet Mowat, were married in 1881 in the nearby town of Canisbay where Janet had been born. Benjamin was the second of their five children, three sons (Benjamin, David and James) and two daughters (Catherine and Donaldina). All of the children except James were born in Thurso. Benjamin’s father worked as a farm labourer and cattleman and at the time of the 1901 census Benjamin was 17 years old, living at home and working as a ploughman. His family later moved south to Fearn in the county of Ross-shire and they were living there in 1914 when he enlisted.
Benjamin immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1904, arriving in Halifax on 13 June on the SS Laurentian. He was 20 years old, single, a farm labourer from Caithness and his destination was Brandon, Manitoba. By 1911 he was living in Kenora, Ontario, lodging at 110 Fifth Avenue South and working for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Later he boarded at the Railway YMCA in Kenora, where a lot of single working men lived, and he was involved in many of the activities there. The large brick building had a restaurant, games room, library and lounge area on the main floor and sleeping quarters for 50 to 60 men on the second and third floors. In the basement were a bowling alley and gym and outside there were lawn bowling greens and tennis courts.
The war started in August 1914 and Benjamin enlisted in Kenora two months later, on 22 October, joining the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. The 27th had just been organized that month as part of the 2nd Canadian Contingent. It was being recruited in Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage la Prairie as well as the Kenora and Rainy River area. Benjamin headed to Winnipeg on 1 November 1914 along with fifteen other men from Kenora and Keewatin, and over the winter the battalion trained in Manitoba. The following spring they left for the east coast, on the first leg of their journey overseas. Their trains passed through Kenora on 12 May 1915 and a huge crowd gathered at the train station to wish them well and see them on their way. The battalion embarked from Quebec on 17 May on the SS Carpathia and the men spent several months training at Shorncliffe and Otterpool in southeast England. On 17 September they marched to Folkestone where they boarded the Marguerite. They disembarked at Boulogne on 18 September and four days later the battalion was in Belgium.
The 27th was based south of Ypres near the town of Kemmel and over the next two months they had several rotations in the front lines. During one rotation in mid-November there was snow and heavy rain for the four days they were in the trenches. They were relieved on 20 November and the men were all back in camp that night. Benjamin was in the battalion’s machine gun section and the next day, 21 November, he was crawling behind a hedge on his way to an observation post when he was shot and killed by a sniper.
From the War Diary of the 27th Battalion, 21 November 1915: ‘During the day our reserve machine gun section suffered one casualty, Private Sutherland being killed outright in S.P. 9.’
Benjamin is buried in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery near the town of Kemmel in Belgium. On 19 December a memorial service was held at Knox Presbyterian Church in Kenora. The large number of people in attendance included the Oddfellows, lodge members and residents from the Railway YMCA.
Benjamin is commemorated on the Cenotaph in Kenora, Ontario, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour for the CPR. He is also listed on the marker erected by Gold Hill and Minnetonka Lodges of Kenora and Keewatin, in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. The marker is in memory of Lodge members who died in the Great War.
By Becky Johnson
Photo of Benjamin is from the Winnipeg Tribune, November 30, 1915.