Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 20, 1871
Place of BirthLiverpool, Lancashire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs Julia Nelson, mother, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingMarine Fireman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number102393
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion4th Labour Battalion, CLC
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Labour Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 7, 1915
Age at Enlistment44
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 25, 1951
Age at Death80
Buried AtVeterans Cemetery, Esquimalt, British Columbia
PlotBlk. 15 Gr. 10

Nelson, Joseph

Joseph Nelson was born on 20 August 1871 in the parish/inner city  of Toxeth in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. His father James was from Ormskirk, a town just north of Liverpool, while his mother Julia, the daughter of Irish immigrants, was born in Leeds, Yorkshire. The family first lived in Wednesbury in Staffordshire where children Edward (1856), John (abt 1858), and Alice (1860) were born. By 1861 the family had moved to Liverpool where James first found work as a cotton porter and then as an iron works labourer. Children born in Liverpool were Charlotte (1861), James (abt 1865), Daniel (1866), Joseph, and Philip (1876).  Father James died during the second quarter of 1884 in Toxeth, Liverpool. By the 1891 England census Joseph was living in another inner city of Liverpool, Walton on the Hill, where he was working as an assistant for William Greyson, a refreshment house keeper, but by 1901 was living with his mother and brothers John and Daniel in a northern suburb of Liverpool, West Derby, where the fellows were working as wool packers.

It appears that Joseph’s sister Alice was the first to immigrate to Canada. She had married Harold Sigurdson, a native of Denmark, in 1888 and a short time later had moved to Canada, eventually settling in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) where Harold, a sea faring captain, was involved in the boat building industry. Next to immigrate was Joseph’s sister Charlotte. Charlotte had married Samuel Corbett in 1888 and by the early 1890’s the couple was living in Victoria, British Columbia. Joseph and his mother Julia were found on the passenger list of the Parisian that arrived in Halifax in mid March of 1903. Julia’s destination was given as Rat Portage while Joseph’s was given as Victoria, British Columbia. However it appears that Joseph lived with his mother in Rat Portage for a number of years before heading out to Victoria around 1911. Joseph’s brother Daniel immigrated to Canada in 1905 followed by Philip in 1906, both settling in Rat Portage for a period before also moving to Victoria.

Joseph signed his attestation papers in Victoria on 7 September 1915, giving his birth year as 1875 to appear younger. He gave his place of birth as Kenora, Ontario, and his mother Julia in Kenora as next of kin. His occupation at the time was listed as marine fireman and active militia as the 50th Gordon Highlanders of Canada. Organized in June of 1915, recruited and mobilized in Victoria, the 67th Battalion embarked from Halifax on 5 April 1916 aboard the Olympic. On board was Private Joseph Nelson.

Once in England Joseph was transferred to the 51st Battalion by the end of June after spending two weeks in the Bramshott Military Hospital. In early September he was attached to the 9th Training Brigade at Bramshott until late October, returning to the 51st Battalion that had become known as the Garrison Duty Battalion. By the end of January 1917 Joseph was struck off strength to the 3rd Labour Battalion, transferring to the 4th Labour Battalion in February and embarking for France on 14 March 1917.

Although a Kenora newspaper  article in November of 1917 reported that Joseph had been severely gassed his records indicate that he suffered from ‘dysentery clinical’. First admitted to the No 50 Field Ambulance in early September, transferred to the No 52 Casualty Clearing Station, and then on to the No 46 Stationary Hospital in Etaples, by early October Joseph was invalided sick to England where he was admitted to the Belmont Road Auxiliary Hospital in Liverpool. From there he was moved to the Dysentery Convalescence Hospital at Barton on the Sea and then to the Military Convalescence Hospital at Epsom, discharged from the hospital in mid June of 1918. On the 22nd of September Joseph embarked for Canada and was discharged from service  as medically unfit as overage in Victoria on December 3rd.

Predeceased by his mother Julia in 1921 in Kenora and his brother Philip in 1923 in Victoria, Joseph died on 25 September 1951 in the Veteran’s Hospital in Saanich. His British Columbia death record gave his occupation as labourer, working at the occupation well into his seventies. His brother Daniel, also of Victoria,  signed the record as next of kin.  Joseph’s Veteran Death Card listed his sister Mrs C Corbett of Victoria as his next of kin.  He is interred in the Veterans Cemetery, Esquimalt, British Columbia.

by Judy Stockham

Nelson-Joseph-2 Nelson-Joseph-3 Nelson-Joseph-4 Nelson-Joseph-5
obituary courtesy of Mike Melen
grave marker photograph courtesy of Betty and Dan on

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