Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 1, 1888
Place of BirthPortsmouth
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinGrace Amelia Watts, wife, Deseronto, Ontario
Trade / CallingFarmer
Service Details
Regimental Number636395
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion155th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentDeseronto, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 18, 1916
Age at Enlistment27
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 19, 1973
Age at Death86
Buried AtElmwood Cemetery, Corbyville, Ontario

Watts, Ernest

According to his attestation papers, Ernest Watts was born on 1 March 1888 in Portsmouth in England. His marriage record along with census records suggested that he was likely born in 1886 or 1887 while his obituary gave the year as 1877, the year also inscribed on his grave marker. Details of Ernest’s early life could not be confirmed.

Ernest married Grace Amelia Lindsay on 16 March 1910 in Keewatin, Ontario, a small town about 5 kilometres west of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. Born in 1887 in Belleville, Ontario, Grace was the daughter of George Lindsay and Caroline Johnson. Her family lived in the Belleview/Napanee area where George was a fisherman but it appeared that the family also had a farm. They had moved to northwestern Ontario around 1909 to farm in the Umbach/Pellatt area outside of Keewatin. The marriage record indicated that both Ernest and Grace had been living in Napanee. After the marriage Ernest and Grace lived in Kenora West (Norman) where Ernest worked at the sawmill. At the time of the 1911 census Grace’s brothers Ernest and Herbert were living with the couple, the two also working at the sawmill. Later that year Ernest and Grace gave birth to daughter Edith Amelia.

Ernest signed his attestation papers with the 155th Battalion on 18 January 1916 in Deseronto, Ontario. His occupation was given as farmer and his wife Grace Amelia in Deseronto as next of kin. However, blind in one eye, Ernest was discharged from service as medically unfit on 11 September 1916 at Barriefield Camp.

Over the years Ernest and Grace farmed in the rural Shannonville area between Belleville and Napanee, Shannonville the birth place of Grace’s father. According to his obituary, Ernest also worked at Corby’s Distillery. The couple had given birth to a second child, son Ernest Roy in 1916.

Predeceased by his wife Grace in 1972 and daughter Edith, Ernest died on 19 December 1973 in the Lennox and Addington County Hospital in Napanee. At the time of his death he was survived by his son Roy in nearby Corbyville and grandson Ralph. Along with Grace, Ernest is interred in the Elmwood Cemetery in Corbyville.

By Judy Stockham

Grave marker photograph by Bev Dowson,
Obituaries provided by the Belleville Public Library

Research notes:

‘Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help. After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing and receiving homes and then sent on to farmers in the area.’ (Library and Archives Canada)

An age appropriate Ernest Watts, born in Portsmouth, was living in the Portsea Island Union Workhouse at the time of the 1891 England census. He had been admitted to the workhouse on 30 November 1889 and discharged on 27 March 1895. With a party of close to 100 children under the care of Reverend Robert Wallace, Ernest arrived in Canada aboard the Vancouver on 7 April 1895, destination given as the Marchmont Home in Belleville, Ontario on the passenger list. The next year, as reported on an inspection list of the 1895 immigrants, Ernest was living on the Henry Sayer (Sayre) farm in the nearby Morven area, Henry himself a British Home child brought to Canada under the charge of Reverend Wallace. Likely the Ernest as above, application would have to be made to the Barnardo’s Making Connections office in England for a possible intake/ Marchmont Home record to confirm.


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