|Date of Birth||September 21, 1893|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Elizabeth Woods, mother, 613 Jessie Avenue, Winnipeg|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Fireman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||February 5, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 26, 1916|
|Age at Death||23|
|Buried At||no known grave/Vimy Memorial|
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, findagrave.com.