Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 8, 1891
Place of BirthKalkirk, Caithness
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinIsabella Sutherland, mother, MacDonald, Manitoba
Trade / CallingFarmer
Service Details
Regimental Number423124
Service Record
Battalion29th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 12, 1915
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Cross
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 30, 1962
Age at Death71
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Sutherland, John

John Sutherland was born on 8 September 1891 in Halkirk, Caithness in northern Scotland. His father James Sutherland, a farmer, was from Latheron while his mother Isabella Jane Ross was from Thurso, both in Caithness. The couple married on 29 October 1878 in Blythswood in Glasgow. Children born to the family were Christina Munro (1879), Alexander Ross (1880), both in Thurso. By the time of the birth of son George in 1881 the family had moved to Halkirk where children joining the family were James (1882 or 1883), Jessie (1884), Margaret (1885), Joseph (1889), and John. By the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Lybster in Caithness, with James’ occupation listed as retired farmer. Sadly, George and young James had passed away. James Sr later died in 1908 in Latheron.

Joseph was the first to immigrate to Canada, arriving in Montreal on the Pretorian on 2 July 1906. He settled in the RM of MacDonald in Manitoba where he farmed. According to a later census John immigrated to Canada in 1911 although an age appropriate John Sutherland arrived in Quebec aboard the Hesperian on 20 June 1909, on his way to his brother who was farming in Manitoba. Margaret arrived in May of 1913 on the Parisian and Isabella, Christina, and Jessie in November of 1914 on the Pretorian, all on their way to Joseph’s. At some point Alexander also immigrated to Canada.

Most of the Sutherlands ended up in the RM of MacDonald and later in Portage la Prairie where John enlisted as a Private with the 44th Battalion on 12 April 1915. His date and place of birth were given as 8 September 1892 in Caithness, Scotland, occupation as farmer, and his mother Isabella in MacDonald as next of kin. With the 2nd Draft of the 44th Battalion John embarked from Montreal on the Missanabie on 4 September 1915.

Once in England John was transferred to the 29th Battalion, embarking for France on 17 February 1916 and joining the unit on March 10th. In July he was first admitted to the No 4 Canadian Field ambulance with a sprained ankle and diarrhoea, transferred to the 2nd Divisional Rest Station and then on to the North Midland Divisional Casualty Clearing Station and returning to duty on 8th of August. Later that month he was appointed Lance Corporal and in late September was sent on a Bombing Course for a week. John was appointed Lance Sergeant in October and then as Sergeant in November.

On 27 April 1917 John sustained burns to his face and hands. While digging an old saphead to find accommodations, his shovel struck a buried bomb that exploded. First admitted to the No 135 Stationary Hospital, John was invalided to England on 4th of May to the 1st London General Hospital in Camberwell. On the 21st he was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bromley in Kent, discharged on the 25th. Once discharged John went through a series of transfers in England, back and forth between the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion and the British Columbia Regimental Depot. In August he was hospitalized for thirteen days with scabies. In late April of 1918 John was appointed Temporary Lieutenant and then hospitalized for ten days in the No 13 General Hospital in Hastings with influenza. In August he returned to France, taken on strength as a Lieutenant with the 29th Battalion on the 26th.

John was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on 5 September 1918: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and initiative on September 5th, 1918 near Sains-les-Marquion. He, with a NCO, made a daylight reconnaissance across the Canal du Nord. On encountering a large number of enemy in position along the easter bank he rushed forward and shot one and together they inflicted casualties on the enemy. He and his sergeant obtained valuable information about enemy dispositions.’

John was granted a two week leave on 19 January 1919 and proceeded to England on 11th of April. He embarked for Canada on May 10th and was discharged from service on 27th of May on demobilization in Vancouver. At the time his proposed residence was given as Portage la Prairie.

At the time of the 1921 census John was living Portage la Prairie with his mother and siblings Joseph (head of the household), Jessie, and Margaret. Along with his brother, his occupation was given as farmer. By 1926 he was living in northwestern Ontario, employed by the Ontario and Minnesota Paper Company at the power house and in the electrical department, retiring in 1961. Marrying, he and his wife Lily (née Erikson) gave birth to two children, Isabella and Allan. Born on 12 June 1904 in nearby Keewatin, Lily was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants Andrew Erikson and Annie Olsen. Her parents had married in 1896 in Winnipeg. John was a member of the Keewatin Branch of the Canadian Legion, the Gold Hill Lodge, IOOF, the United Services Institute, and the Presbyterian Church. The family lived on Kay Street in Norman, now part of Kenora.

John died on 30 December 1962 at the Kenora General Hospital. He was survived by his wife Lily, son Allan of Kenora, and daughter Isabella (Graham) Stewart in Winnipeg. Besides his young siblings and father back in Scotland, he was predeceased by his mother Isabella (1923) and siblings Christina (1920), Jessie (1922), Margaret (Herbert) Payton (1944), Alexander (1938), and Joseph (1958), all interred in the Hillside Cemetery in Portage la Prairie. John’s wife Lily died in 1975 and is interred with John in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Judy Stockham

Photographs of John and his family provided by his son Allan.


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