|Date of Birth||August 23, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Eldon, Prince Edward Island|
|Next of Kin||Ethel MacWilliam, wife, Keewatin, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Accountant|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Machine Gun Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||November 10, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||30|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 9, 1967|
|Age at Death||82|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
Hector Charles MacWilliam was born on 23 August 1885 in the area of Eldon/Belfast in Queens County on Prince Edward Island where his family farmed. Spellings of the surname on various records include MacWilliam, MacWilliams, McWilliam, and McWilliams. Hector’s parents were Hugh MacWilliam and Flora MacMillan who had married around 1874. Children born to the couple were an infant that died in 1875, James (1877), Isabella (1878), Alexander (1881), Oliver (1883), Hector, and Flora (1889). Sadly Hector’s mother Flora died in August of 1890 followed by his sister Flora in 1891. By the time of the 1891 census the family unit had disintegrated but by the 1901 census Hector’s father had gathered most of the children back together. Hugh died later that year, interred in the St John’s Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Belfast, PEI along with his wife Flora, the infant, daughter Flora, and son Alexander who died in 1917.
By 1910 Hector was living in Fort William, Ontario where he was working as an agent for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company. On 18 July 1910, in Fort William, he married nurse Georgia Ethel Brooks. Born in Sparta, Wisconsin, Ethel was the daughter of Lyman and Winnifred Alvina (née Myers) Brooks. At the time of the 1900 US census Ethel was listed as an indentured servant for the Harmon family in Sparta. It appears that she immigrated to Canada around 1907, settling in Port Arthur/Fort William. Hector and Ethel gave birth to son Lorne on 19 May 1911 in Fort William. They relocated to Keewatin, Ontario with Hector’s work with the Lake of the Woods Milling Company by the time of the birth of son Howard in 1915.
Hector enlisted on 10 November 1915 in Winnipeg. His occupation was given as accountant and his next of kin as his wife Ethel back in Keewatin. As a Private with the 61st Battalion he embarked from Halifax aboard the Olympic on 1 April 1916.
Once in England Hector was transferred to the 44th Battalion, disembarking in France on 12 August 1916. That September he was sent on a five day grenade course. In mid November Hector was first admitted to the No 12 Canadian Field Ambulance suffering from bronchitis. He was also diagnosed with myalgia and debility at various aid stations, eventually admitted to the St John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital in Г‰taples on 6 December. From there Hector was returned to England, admitted to the Military Hospital at Bethnal Green on the 19th and then to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bromley, Kent for a day before being discharged on 18 January 1917. After a short stint with the 18th Reserve Battalion, Hector was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot, first appointed Corporal and then Acting Sergeant in September. In March of 1918 he proceeded overseas to join the 1st Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps in the field.
In May of 1918 Hector, relinquishing his rank of Acting Sergeant, was admitted to a series of medical centres from field ambulances to depots with PUO, fever of unknown origin. Returning to his unit, in September Hector sustained a shrapnel wound to the scalp. After going through another series of medical aid/stations, he rejoined the unit on 10 October. With the end of the war Hector returned to England in March of 1919, embarking for Canada aboard the Empress of Britain on 26 April. Hector was discharged from service on 5 May 1919 in Toronto.
Hector, Ethel, and the children continued to make Keewatin their home after the war. Employed with the Lake of the Woods Milling Company for 47 years, Hector retired in 1952. He was a member of the Keewatin Branch of the Canadian Legion and St Andrews United Church in Keewatin. Both of Hector and Ethel’s sons served during WW2.
Hector died on 9 September 1967 in the Kenora General Hospital. He was predeceased by his wife Ethel in 1952, son Lorne in 1964 in Winnipeg, and son Howard in January of 1967 in Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Hector, Ethel, Lorne, and Howard are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
In August of 1919 the town of Keewatin held a demonstration to honour those who had served during the war. Badges and medals were presented to the veterans and to the families of the fallen. Hector’s name was included on the list of those honoured as published in the Kenora Miner and News. Hector is commemorated for his WW1 service on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Roll of Honour, on the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country plaque, and on the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour plaque.
By Judy Stockham