Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 21, 1893
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinElizabeth Woods, mother, 613 Jessie Avenue, Winnipeg
Trade / CallingLocomotive Fireman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number422732
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion8th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 5, 1915
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 26, 1916
Age at Death23
Buried Atno known grave/Vimy Memorial

Woods, Joseph Stewart

Joseph Stewart Woods was born on 21 September 1893 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. His parents Russell Woods, originally from Quebec, and Elizabeth Fletcher,  born in Ontario, had married in Winnipeg on 29 December 1886.

By the 1891 Canada census the Woods family was living in Rat Portage East, Russell’s occupation given as locomotive engineer. Children in the household were Grace Maud, 7, Russell Clyde, 5, Clarence Fletcher, 3, and Daisy Dean, 1.  For  the 1901 Canada census the family was still living in Rat Portage where Russell  continued to work  as a railroad engineer. Family members in the household were Russell and Elizabeth, and children Grace M  age 17, Russell C age 15, Clarence F age 13, Daisy D  age 11, and new family members born since the last census, Irene I age 9, Joseph S age 7, Milfred H age 5, Walter age 3, and Elisabett age 9 months.

Then tragedy struck the Woods family. Russell Woods was reported as missing and then later, as his body was found at the foot of the Kenora dock, death by drowning on 26 August 1902. On 29 November 1904, Clarence, working as a switchman, lost his life due to an accident.

By 1911 Elizabeth and some of the children were living on 613 Jessie Street in Winnipeg Manitoba. Children listed were Russell, Hene (Irene), Stewart (Joseph), Milfred, Ralph (Walter), Bessie (Elizabett), and an addition to the family, Olena (Olive)  Russell, a girl born in February 1903, six months after her father’s death. For the 1916 Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta census, the family was still living at 613 Jessie Street with the widowed Elizabeth and the following children listed: Elizabeth, Joseph Stewart, Milfred Hueston, Walter Ralph, and Olive Russell. However the census notes that Joseph Stewart, Milfred Hueston, and Walter Ralph were all overseas, occupations given as soldiers. Grace had died on 19 June 1913.

Private Joseph Stewart Woods enlisted on 5 February 1915 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, occupation given as locomotive fireman.  Along with his brother Milfred who had enlisted on 22 December 1914 in Winnipeg,  he left Montreal with the 1st Reinforcing Draft of the 44th Battalion aboard the Grampian on 1 June 1915. Taken on strength with the 32nd Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe shortly after arrival, he proceeded on draft to the 8th Battalion 17 July 1915, arriving in the field on the 22nd. The following June he was granted a 7 day leave of absence to England. With a salary of $1/day, Stewart assigned $15/month of his pay to his mother back in Canada.

With the 8th battalion,  Private Joseph Stewart Woods  was reported as killed in action 26 September 1916. According to his CEF Commonwealth Graves Registers card, his body was never recovered and ‘a large cross was erected near Pozieres to the memory of Officer’s and O,R who fell in action in the Somme Area Sep. 7th-Oct 17th, 1916″. Along with the 11 000 Canadians who were posted as missing, presumed dead in France, Private Joseph Stewart Woods’ name is inscribed on the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais, France.

Stewart’s brother Walter Ralph who had enlisted on 8 October 1915 in Winnipeg also made the ultimate sacrifice, killed in action at Passchendaele on 6 November 1916. Milfred survived and returned to Winnipeg. He died on 11 September 1949 and is interred in the Brookside Cemetery. His mother Elizabeth and brother Clyde had died in Winnipeg in June of the same year.

Private Joseph Stewart Woods in commemorated on page  185 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the 8th Battalion’s WW1 Roll of Honour, and along with his brother Walter Ralph, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, on the Kenora Keewatin High Schools plaque, and on the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

by Judy Stockham

Photograph of Joseph’s name on the Vimy Memorial by annabanana,

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