Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 13, 1894
Place of BirthNewark, Northamptonshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinElizabeth Brown, mother, Newark near Peterborough, England
Trade / CallingLocomotive Fireman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number2125001
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentYMCA Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 31, 1917
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 8, 1967
Age at Death72
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Brown, Maurice

Although he gave his place of birth as Peterborough on his attestation papers, Maurice Brown was born on 13 June 1894 in the hamlet of Newark on the outskirts of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England. His father Frederick Brown was from Peterborough while his mother Elizabeth Doe was from Stoke by Clare, Sussex. The couple married during the third quarter of 1882 in the registration district of Peterborough. Maurice had four older sisters, Rose (b abt 1883), Ethel (b abt 1885), Emma (b abt 1886), and Gertrude (b abt 1889). He also had three younger sisters, Bertha (b abt 1894), Elsie (b abt 1899) and Amelia (b abt 1900) and a younger brother, Arthur (b abt 1903). Maurice’s father worked for the railroad for most of his adult life.

Lodging with the Joseph Bedford family in Longthorpe near Peterborough for the 1911 Canada census, Maurice was working as a milkman. On 9 March 1912 he arrived in Halifax aboard the Virginian, destination given as Kenora, Ontario. Along with a number of other young fellows from the Peterborough area, Maurice gained employment with the Canadian Pacific Railway and lived at the YMCA across the street from the Kenora train station.  Built by the CPR and then turned over to the YMCA, the building had two full floors of rooms capable of housing 65 men. It had a restaurant, billiard room, a reading and writing room, and in the basement a two lane bowling alley, a gym area for boxing, washrooms, and showers. Outside there was an area for lawn bowling as well as tennis courts.

With occupation given as locomotive fireman and his mother Elizabeth back in England as next of kin, Maurice signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg on 31 January 1917. A Kenora newspaper article of the seventh of February spoke of Maurice, along with 31 other Kenora men that had signed up for overseas service with the No 1 Skilled Railway Operators, passing through Kenora heading east on the first leg of the journey to the front.

Listed as a Private on the nominal rolls of the No 1 Section, Skilled Railway Employees, Maurice embarked from Halifax aboard the Ausonia on 4 March 1917. First redesignated as the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers that March, the unit was changed to the No 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians) Royal Engineers on April 7th; the battalion arrived in France on April 19th. ‘This unit was operating lines in the immediate rear of active operations and hauled troops, ammunition, supplies, material, ambulance trains, refugees for the battles of Messines Ridge, June 1917, and the Lys, April 1918.’ (Library and Archives Canada). A description of some of the activities of the 58th Broad Gauge Operation Company was summarized in the Canadian Rail’s November December 1993 edition that marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the war: ‘The Canadian Railway Troops on World War 1’¬†.

With the end of the war Maurice returned to England and then on to Canada, disembarking from the Aquitania at Halifax on 25 May 1919. With the rank of Sapper, he was discharged at Montreal two days later.

On 28 April 1920, in Kenora, Maurice married Elsie Pauline Brinkman. Elsie was the daughter of Wilhelm (William) Brinkman and Anna Weiss, both born in Poland. Along with Elsie’s older siblings the family had immigrated to Canada, arriving in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) by 1895. Elsie was born in Rat Portage in 1897. By the 1916 census she was living in Winnipeg and working as a stationery saleslady.

The 1921 Canada census found Maurice, Elsie and Elsie’s niece Viola Brinkman living at 324 5th Avenue North, with Maurice listed as employed as a fireman with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Maurice and Elsie gave birth to three children, daughters Evelyn and Verna, and son Raymond who died in infancy in 1927. Maurice retired as an engineer with the CPR in 1957. He was a member of Knox United Church, the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Fireman and Engineers.

Maurice died at the Kenora General Hospital on 8 January 1967. At the time he was survived by his wife Elsie, and daughters Evelyn (Fred) Markham of Winnipeg and Verna (Lloyd) Gilbart of Port Arthur, Ontario. Also surviving were six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Elsie died in 1992 in Kenora and is interred with Maurice in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

by Judy Stockham



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