Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 18, 1886
Place of BirthShaw, Lancashire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs Ethel Williamson, wife, 950 Winnipeg Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingTraveller
ReligionChurch of Christ
Service Details
Regimental Number150259
Service Record Link to Service Record
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Postal Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJuly 31, 1915
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 25, 1950
Age at Death64
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Williamson, James

James (Jim) Williamson was born on 18 April 1886 in Shaw, Lancashire in England. His father Thomas Williamson was from Derbyshire while his mother Harriett Matthews was from Lincolnshire, the couple marrying in 1885 in Shaw. At the time of Jim’s birth his father was working as a porter. Moving to nearby Bury, another community on the northern outskirts of Manchester, Thomas found work as a railway inspector/railway goods guard. Other children born to the family in Bury were Harry (1891), Dora (1895), Harold (1897), Annie (1899), and Jack (1903). Another child was born to the family but died in infancy or early childhood. By the time of the 1901 census Jim, living at home with is parents and siblings, was working as a doctor’s groom.

Jim immigrated to Canada in 1907, arriving in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the Empress of Britain on 27 April. His occupation was given as gardener on the passenger list and destination as Winnipeg. For the 1911 census for Winnipeg he was working as a groom. On 16 November 1914, in Winnipeg, Jim married Ethel Fowler. Born on 21 May 1890 in Preston in Lancashire, Ethel was the daughter of John Fowler and Martha Alice Worden. Later census records indicated that the family immigrated to Canada in 1903, settling in Winnipeg by the 1906 census.

Jim signed his attestation papers on 31 July 1915 in Winnipeg. His occupation was given as traveller and his next of kin as his wife Ethel in Winnipeg. Previous military service was given as three years with the 79th Cameron Highlanders in Winnipeg. With the 1st Reinforcing Draft of the 79th Battalion, Jim embarked from Montreal on the Corsican on 25 September 1915, arriving in England on 5 October.

First taken on strength with the 12th Reserve Battalion, Jim was transferred to the 11th Battalion on 2 November and attached to the Canadian Postal Corps ten days later. In mid February of 1916 he was transferred to the Canadian Postal Corps and promoted to Acting Sergeant without pay while in charge of the field post office at Shorncliffe from 13 June. Then on command to the postal section of the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre from 7 December, Jim was transferred to the Canadian Postal Corps in London on 7 July 1917. On 7 August he was admitted to the Endell Street Hospital with a septic throat, discharged on the 30th. Jim was next posted to the General Depot and proceeded to Paris in connection with the Canadian elections on 25 January 1918, transferring back to the Canadian Postal Corps in London on 15 March. On 26 November he returned to the General Depot before embarking for Canada. Jim arrived back in Canada on 14 December 1918 aboard the Olympic and was discharged from service on demobilization on 31 January 1919 in Winnipeg.

First serving as a Private with the 2/5 Battalion Lancaster Fusiliers from December of 1914, Jim’s brother Harold re-enlisted in May of 1916 in Grantham, England with the Machine Gun Corps. Following surgery on his knee, he served overseas during the last months of the war with the 15th Battalion, rank of Acting Lance Corporal. He returned to England in late March of 1919 and was discharged from service on demobilization on 31 May.

Continuing to make Winnipeg their home after the war, Jim and Ethel gave birth to three sons, Harold, Gordon, and Eric. Jim worked as a travelling representative of the Western Packing Company for twenty-six years, the family moving to Kenora, Ontario in 1938 where he continued to work for the company until 1941 when he opened his own business. He later built a new store on First Street South. Jim was involved in both hockey and baseball in Kenora, president of the Senior Thistles hockey team and commissioner of the Kenora-Keewatin baseball league. He was a member of the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion, a charter member of the Kenora Lions club, an official representative of the Thunder Bay Amateur Hockey Association for Kenora and district, a member of the United Commercial Travellers Association, and of Knox United Church.

Jim died on 25 December 1950 in the Kenora General Hospital following a brief illness. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Ethel and sons Harold of Winnipeg and Gordon and Eric of Kenora. His obituary stated that he was survived by his three sisters and one brother back in England but it was likely an error and should have read three brothers and one sister (Dora Dulton). Jim is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Ethel later moved to Winnipeg where she died on 8 April 1980 at the Health Sciences Centre. She is interred in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

By Judy Stockham

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