|Date of Birth||September 2, 1893|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Barbara Valentine, sister, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||January 15, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 27, 1917|
|Age at Death||24|
|Buried At||Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton Ontario|
|Plot||Y. 7. 19.|
According to his attestation papers, William Valentine was born on 2 September 1893 although later census documents give his birth as in August of 1894. With his birth surname of Laurenson, his mother was Catherine Laurenson, daughter of Robert and Eliza (née Perrault) Laurenson.
William and his two younger siblings, Barbara born on 10 August 1896 and Robert born on 2 June 1899, lived with their mother and grandparents for their younger years. Grandfather Robert Laurenson was from Nesting and Lunnasting in the county of Shetland in Scotland, having signed a contract with the Hudson’s Bay Company on 9 February 1864. He served in a number of districts in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, latterly as post master of Rat Portage (later renamed as Kenora) from 1874-1877. He had married a Cree woman, Eliza Perrault.
For the 1891 Canada census, Robert and Eliza with children Eliza, Catherine, and Agnes were living in Rat Portage East, Robert working as an ‘Indian trader’. The 1901 Canada census found Robert, Eliza, daughter Catherine, and grandchildren William, Barbara, and Robert living ‘outside of Rat Portage’, Robert working as a trapper. William’s mother Catherine married David Bowhey Valentine on 17 January 1903 in Rat Portage, Catherine’s birth place given as Northwest Angle (Lake of the Woods) and David’s as St Thomas. David’s occupation was given as farmer but he had worked for a number of years as a Northwest Mounted Police constable. On 2 September 1903 David Alvin Valentine was born. At some point after this marriage and before enlisting, William assumed the surname of Valentine as did Barbara.
Catherine Laurenson Valentine died on 6 November 1909 in Kenora of tuberculosis, a disease that was rampant at the time. On 11 June 1910 David married Mary Ann Begg, daughter of Juliet (Sturgeon) and John Begg of Kenora. At least three children were born from this marriage, Mabel Mary, Thomas, and Bessie.
William enlisted on 15 January 1915 in Kenora. Very much an outdoors man, he worked steamboating in the summers and lumbering with the loading gangs in the winters. While still in Kenora, on 1 June 1915 William married Dorothy (Dolly) Parker, daughter of George and Marie (née Holmes) Parker, formerly of London, England.
On 15 June 1915 William was on his way to Port Arthur to begin training with the 52nd Battalion before leaving for overseas. ‘The 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion, CEF was raised in Northern Ontario during the spring of 1915 with its mobilization headquarters at Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario. On 4 November 1915 the Battalion moved by train to St. John, New Brunswick arriving on 8 November 1915. On 22 November 1915 the Battalion sailed from St. John for Plymouth, England onboard the S.S. California. The Battalion arrived at Plymouth, England on 3 December 1915. From Plymouth the Battalion moved directly to Witley Camp for 6 weeks of training under British instructors. The Battalion joined the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division on 23 February 1916 and thus began the trial by fire for the men of the north in the trenches of France and Belgium.'(from the now defunct 52nd Battalion website)
It wasn’t long after arriving in France that William suffered a buried fracture to his left fore arm in June 1916 while at Ypres. He spent two months recuperating in the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre, Folkestone, and then another month at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Bearwood.
However, ill health continued to plague William in the form of chest/lung infections. On 31 January 1917 he was admitted to the Canadian Military Hospital at Bramshott, and was later diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, the same illness that had taken the life of his mother. Classified as seriously ill, his wife was sent a notifying telegram.
On 25 May 1917 orders came that William was to be invalided back to Canada to the Mountain Military Sanitarium in Hamilton. From the Nominal Roll of Men to be Discharged in Canada, William sailed on the Hospital Ship Araguaya from Liverpool on 11 June 1917, arriving in Halifax 22 June: 439078 L/Cpl. Valentine, W., Tubercular, Stretcher Case. After receiving word of the severity of her husband’s illness, Dolly travelled to Hamilton but unfortunately he had passed away on 27 August 1917, before her arrival at the sanitarium. William is interred in the Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, Ontario.
William’s wife Dolly trained as a nurse at McKellar General Hospital in Fort William, Ontario while William was overseas. She later married Albert Mullin, a telegraph operator formerly from Gatineau, Quebec, on 19 March 1921 in Fort William. They moved to nearby Glenwater, Ontario where William’s medals and decorations, plaque and scroll, and Memorial Cross were sent. Although a birth record was not found, it appears that she and William gave birth to daughter Doris Hazel in 1916. Dolly died in 1940 in Thunder Bay.
William’s grandparents died in the Kenora area, Eliza on 4 February 1904 and Robert on 4 April 1906. David Valentine, William’s stepfather, also signed up to serve but due to poor health he never went overseas. He went on to become Chief of Police in Transcona, Manitoba and died on 17 August 1921 in Transcona.
William’s sister Barbara married Arnold Skarra in Thunder Bay, Ontario on 23 August 1923. She died on 30 May 1961 in Port Arthur and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. She and Arnold had three children. At the time of her death she was survived by her husband, the three children, brother Alvin, and several grandchildren.
William’s brother Robert Laurenson enlisted at Sarcee Camp, Alberta in May of 1918. After training at Sarcee, Private Robert Laurenson embarked from Canada aboard the Kiaora with the 107th Draft of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (RC) CEF, debarking in England 25 August 1918. On reporting from Canada at Shorncliffe, he was taken on strength with the Canadian Reserve Calvary Regiment. On 17 October 1918, he left Shorncliffe to join the Canadian Machine Gun Corps Depot at another training camp at Seaford. From mid November until mid February Robert was on command with the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Maresfield Park, a military camp also used for the calvary. At some point while serving, he met Wilbert Hobson, formerly from Missouri but at the time of the war, of Rochester, Alberta. Private Robert Laurenson received his official discharge in Calgary, Alberta on 25 June 1919, having returned to Canada aboard the Aquitania earlier that month. After the war Robert moved to Rochester, Alberta, home town of Army buddy Hobson. He married Linda Ward in 1923 and the couple gave birth to a child the following May. A short time later Robert became very ill and was hospitalized in Edmonton. He died on 17 August 1924, with interment in the Peaceful Pines Cemetery, Rochester.
Lance Corporal William Valentine is commemorated on page 342 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on the St Alban’s Pro Cathedral WW1 Roll of Honour in Kenora.
by Judy Stockham
William’s grave marker photograph by Marika Pirie as found on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Dorothy (Dolly)’s obituary provided by the Thunder Bay Public Library