Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 5, 1899
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn Harris, 130 Machar Avenue, Port Arthur, Ontario
Trade / CallingBookkeeper
Service Details
Regimental Number2502996
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion3rd Battalion, CRT
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 26, 1917
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 11, 1983
Age at Death84
Buried AtQueen's Lawn Cemetery, Grimsby, Ontario

Harris, Rollo Harold

Rollo Harold Harris was born on 5 August 1899 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. His father John Harris was born in Bruce Mines, Ontario while his mother Susan Thomasina Halliday McKay was born in Colvend, Kirkcudbright, Scotland. Susan had immigrated to Canada with her parents and siblings in 1874, arriving in Quebec on 10 May aboard the Manitoban. John and Susan married on 24 August 1898 in Winnipeg. While living in Rat Portage John worked as a carpenter. Their next child, Maud Victoria was born in 1901. By 1903 the family had relocated to Port Arthur, Ontario where John worked as a railway car sealer and inspector. Children born in Port Arthur were Kathleen Gladis (1903), Irene Marie (1905), and John Douglas (1908).

Rollo had just turned 18 when he signed his attestation papers with the No 10 Forestry and Railway Construction Depot on 26 September 1917 in Port Arthur. His occupation was given as bookkeeper and his father John in Port Arthur as next of kin. He embarked for overseas from Halifax aboard the  Metagama on 27 November 1917.

Upon arrival in England Rollo was taken on strength with the Canadian Railway Troops Depot at Purfleet. In January of 1918 he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops, arriving in France on the 17th. Canadian railway units played a major role in the construction and maintenance of railways of all gauges, including light railways, for the five British Army areas in France and Belgium. Some were formed as Royal Engineer units but, after the formation of the Corps of Canadian Railway troops in April 1918, they became the responsibility of the Office Administering the Royal Canadian Engineers. They were not, however, a part of the Canadian Engineers. (Library and Archives Canada) With the end of the war Rollo returned to England and was posted to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot in early January of 1919. Following a series of transfers he embarked from Liverpool for Canada aboard the HMT Caronia on 29 March and was discharged from service on demobilization in Port Arthur on April 8th.

Rollo was living with his parents and siblings in Port Arthur for the 1921 census, working as a bookkeeper. On 15 January 1924, in Port Arthur, he married widow Margaret Edith Harris. The daughter of David and Eliza Jane (née Fraser) Bell, Margaret was born in 1895 in Toronto. She had married Wisconsin born Edwin Ray Harris in 1920 in Port Arthur; it appears that Edwin passed away in 1922. At the time of the marriage Rollo’s occupation was given as salesman. By the early 1950’s Rollo and Margaret were living in Toronto, Rollo’s occupation given as buyer on Voters lists. They retired to Grimsby, Ontario where Rollo was instrumental in forming the Grimsby Senior Citizens club in 1965.

Rollo died on 11 August 1983 in Grimsby. He was predeceased by his mother Susan in 1946 and father John in 1950, both interred in the Windsor Grove Cemetery in Windsor, Ontario. He was also predeceased by his wife Margaret in 1975, and his second wife Lillian Dorothy Garbett, widow of Walter Floyd, in 1982. At the time of his death he was survived by his siblings Maud (Clarence) Braman of Michigan, Kathleen (Ian) Scott of Green Valley, Arizona, Irene and Douglas of Bisbee, Arizona. Maud died in 1992 in Tawas, Michigan, Kathleen in 2002 in Green Valley, Arizona, Irene in 1998, also in Green Valley, and Douglas in 2008 in Springfield, Oregon. At the time of his death Rollo was also survived by his stepson Donald and his wife Shirley and step grandchildren David and Heather of Oshawa. Rollo and Margaret are interred in the Queen’s Lawn Cemetery in Grimsby.

by Judy Stockham

gravemarker photo: courtesy of goneandneverforgotten on
obituary: courtesy of the Thunder Bay Public Library

Harris-Rollo-Harold-2 Harris-Rollo-Harold-3

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