Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 20, 1894
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Sarah Thompson (mother), 662 Agnes Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingElectrician
Service Details
Regimental Number294486
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment662 Agnes Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJune 2, 1916
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 9, 1963
Age at Death69
Buried AtVeterans Cemetery, Esquimalt, British Columbia
PlotSection F, Row 4, Plot 0807

Thompson, Lawrence

Sergeant Lawrence Thompson was born on 20 July 1894 in Rat Portage, Ontario. His father, John Thompson, was born in Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. with an aunt when he was in his teens. During the late 1860s John worked for the Great Northern Railway between St. Paul, Minnesota and Winnipeg, Manitoba. He ended up moving to Winnipeg where he operated a hotel. He married his first wife, Ellen Earl, in 1877 or 1878. Ellen was an Irish girl who had been working at the hotel.

John and Ellen’s first child, Alma, was born in Winnipeg. In the summer of 1879 the family moved east to the town of Rat Portage, Ontario. They travelled by ox cart on the Dawson Road, going to the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods and from there by boat to Rat Portage. Over the next thirty years John was involved in many successful ventures in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), both on his own and with business partners. He owned the Nickel Plate Saloon and Hotel on Main Street, and Thompson and Palmer’s butcher shop which was next door. He operated a wood yard, owned a big boat used for ferry service and excursions, leased and ran a second hotel and had a mining claim on Lake of the Woods. He started the first ice-selling business in Rat Portage which earned him the nickname the Ice King. The Thompson family home was at the south end of Main Street and John’s large ice house was across the street and close to the lake.

John and Ellen had four more children: Frederick (1880), Georgina (1882), Ambra (1883) and George Ross (1887). When George was two years old Ellen became ill and she went to Manitou, Manitoba to be with her family. She passed away there in March 1890. John was married again in August 1891. His second wife, Sarah Magnusson, was born in Iceland and immigrated to Canada in the late 1880s. John and Sarah had three children: Gertrude (1892), Lawrence (1894) and Mabel (1896). When the war started Lawrence’s half-brother George Ross Thompson signed up with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and by December 1914 he was in France. John and his family were living in Winnipeg by then and sadly both John and his oldest daughter Alma (Mrs. Howard Patterson) died there in December 1914. When the next census was taken in 1916 Lawrence was living on Agnes Street in Winnipeg with his mother and sister Mabel.

Lawrence enlisted in Winnipeg on 2 June 1916, signing up with the 223rd Battalion (Canadian Scandinavians). He was an electrician by trade and next of kin was his mother Sarah. His unit trained at Camp Hughes, east of Brandon, Manitoba. In August Lawrence contracted the mumps and he was out of action for ten days. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in January 1917, Corporal in March and Sergeant in June. His mother passed away in Winnipeg in December 1917 and she’s buried in Brookside Cemetery. Lawrence remained in Canada throughout the war and in March 1918 he was transferred to ‘F’ Company of the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment.

After getting permission Lawrence was married in Brandon on 6 April 1918. His wife, Mary Gertrude Mayberry, was the daughter of James Mayberry and Eleanor Jane Johnston. Mary was born in 1892 in Newdale, Manitoba, the oldest of at least seven daughters. While Lawrence was still in service she lived in Brandon and Winnipeg. The Armistice was signed in November 1918 and Lawrence was discharged two months later, on 7 January 1919. His half-brother George had been killed in France in the last months of the war and he’s buried in Crest Cemetery in France. Lawrence’s proposed residence at the time of his discharge was Brandon but when the 1921 census was taken he and his wife were living in Warren in the RM of Woodlands, northwest of Winnipeg. He was working in a garage and they had a daughter, Eunice Gertrude, who was born in 1920. They likely lived in Warren for at least twenty years. Eunice attended the Lenox Hill Hospital School of Nursing in New York and graduated in 1941.

Lawrence enlisted again during the Second World War, serving as a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Shortly after the war he and his wife moved to Victoria, British Columbia and he worked as an electrician. Mary passed away in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria on 17 May 1957, at age 65. Lawrence died in the Veterans Hospital in Victoria on 9 September 1963, at age 69. He had remarried and he was survived by his second wife, Margaret Borbill. Lawrence is buried in the Veterans Cemetery in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

By Becky Johnson

Grave marker photo courtesy of Betty & Dan on

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