|Date of Birth||April 24, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Cypress River, Manitoba|
|Next of Kin||Johanna Dowd, mother, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Farm Hand|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||10th Battalion, CRT|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Cypress River, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||June 15, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 20, 1968|
|Age at Death||72|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
Lawrence William Dowd was born on 24 April 1896 in the Cypress River area in Manitoba. His father Joseph Richard Dowd, son of an Irish immigrant, was born in Cushing, Quebec but had moved west with his father and brothers to farm. Lawrence’s mother Johanna Townsend was also from Quebec and had moved into the area with her parents and siblings to farm as well. Joseph and Johanna married in 1895, with the marriage registered in the RM of South Cypress.
For the 1901 Canada census Johanna and Lawrence were living with Johanna’s brother William and family on their farm, neighbours with the Dowds. By the next year Lawrence and his parents were living in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. A second child, daughter Irene Margaret, was born in 1908. Joseph was first employed at a number of mines in the area (Mikado, Camp Bay, Black Eagle) and by 1906 was working at the power dam followed by a stint at the pump house. When the high school opened in 1913 he was appointed as caretaker and engineer and eventually became supervising caretaker, responsible for all the schools built on the North Ward site.
Lawrence worked for a time as a stationary hoisting and mill engineer for the Black Eagle Mining company and then tried farming in the west. With occupation given as farm hand and his mother Johanna as next of kin, Lawrence signed his attestation papers on 15 June 1917 in Winnipeg. With the 16th Reinforcement Draft of the Canadian Railway Troops, Lawrence arrived in England aboard the Metagama on 14 December 1917. Proceeding to Purfleet in Essex, Lawrence was to spend two weeks at the military hospital suffering from myalgia and neurasthenia.
By late January of 1918 Lawrence had joined the 10th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops in France. He was granted a two week leave to the UK in December of 1918 and by March of 1919 arrived back in Canada aboard the Cretic, having served for a total of ten months in France.
Lawrence returned to Kenora after the war, found living with his parents and sister on 3rd Street North for the 1921 census. His occupation was given as fire ranger. On 11 October 1922 he married Gertrude Maud Alcock, daughter of George and Emma Frances (née Barker) Alcock. Born in 1904 and their second youngest child, Gertrude’s parents were from the Belleville area and had moved to Rat Portage by the 1901 census. The family farmed in nearby Jaffray.
First spending some time on a CPR work train and then on the powerhouse construction, Lawrence joined the Ontario Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company as an electrician’s helper in 1922, advancing to journeyman electrician, a position he held until his retirement. Lawrence and Gertrude gave birth to four children, Mervin William (1923-1990), Lawrence Ralph (1924-1990), Florence (1926-1926), Leroy (1928-1928), the last two passing away shortly after birth. Lawrence was a lifetime member of the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and of Knox United Church.
Predeceased by his father Joseph in 1939 in Kenora, Lawrence died in the Lake of the Woods District Hospital on 20 August 1968. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Gertrude, son Mervin of Portage la Prairie, son Ralph of Kenora, two grandchildren, his mother Johanna and sister Irene (Fred) MacKellar, both of Fort Frances. Johanna later died in 1974 in Fort Frances, Gertrude in 1988 in Kenora, followed by Mervin (Calgary) and Ralph (Kenora), both in 1990, and Irene in 2008 in Kelowna. Lawrence is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.
Two of Gertrude’s brothers served during the war. Edward Alcock served with the 52nd Battalion and died of his wounds on 26 July 1917. He is interred in the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. William Alcock went overseas with the 94th Battalion, transferring to the 52nd Battalion. William was awarded the Military Medal for his work at Passchendaele. Returning home safely after the war, William died in an accident at the paper mill in 1924.
by Judy Stockham