Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 17, 1892
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinWC Huggins, Imperial, Saskatchewan
Trade / Callingfarmer and engineer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number907615
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion3rd Battalion, CRT
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentImperial, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentApril 1, 1916
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 24, 1981
Age at Death88
Buried AtWoodlawn Cemetery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Huggins, Ralph

Rudolph (Ralph) Huggins was born on 17 September 1892 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. Both of his parents, William Caro Huggins and Eliza(beth) Harriet Betsworth, were born in England. William immigrated to Canada as a young child with his parents and siblings and along with his brother James first came to the Lake of the Woods area around 1877 as they travelled to Beausejour, Manitoba to take up homesteading. Drawn by the beauty of the lake, William returned to the Keewatin/Rat Portage area in 1880, eventually becoming a steamboat captain on Lake of the Woods. On 23 November 1889, in Winnipeg, William married Eliza, an opera singer from the Shoreditch area of London. They first made Keewatin their home where son William Clarence was born on 19 November 1890 but by the time of Ralph’s birth they had moved to nearby Rat Portage. Other known children born to the family, all in Rat Portage/Kenora, were Cyril Clifford (25 December 1893), Irene Mona (5 July 1895), Frederick Edwin (Ted) (10 November 1897), Alberta Louise (16 January 1900), George (8 November 1901), and Vincent Caro (12 September 1905).

According to the family history as published in the book The Imperial Review, William Sr owned and operated several steamboats on the Lake of the Woods and became Captain of the SS Keenora in 1897, carrying freight and passengers between Rat Portage and Rainy River. Along with his wife he operated stopping places at Oak Island, Dog Island, and Yellow Girl on the lake. With the opening of the railway and the slowing down of the steamboat travel on Lake of the Woods, the family moved to Winnipeg around 1906 and from there to Imperial, Saskatchewan. William Sr and Cyril worked the Qu’Appelle on Last Mountain Lake that had runs from Port Hymen to Watertown. The family farmed in the area and ran a summer resort on Imperial Beach.

Ralph signed his attestation papers on 1 April 1916 in Regina, Saskatchewan. His occupation was given as farmer and engineer, and his father William back in Imperial as next of kin. Having a hernia that he eventually had surgery to repair, he was discharged as medically unfit on December 30th. With the onset of conscription, he next signed recruitment papers in November of 1917 but he was unable to keep up with the vigorous demands of training, still weak from the surgery, and was discharged in February of 1918. A third set of attestation papers were signed on 17 May 1918, this time with the Army and Navy Veterans Construction Company. Ralph embarked from Montreal on 13 July 1918 but the ship returned to Halifax 5 days later. He next embarked from Halifax aboard the Carnarvonshire on 3 August, arriving in Liverpool on the 16th. He was posted to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot and proceeded overseas that October to join the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops in the field. Ralph returned to England in January of 1919 and embarked for Canada aboard the Northland in late March, discharged from service on 11 April. His brothers William and Cyril both enlisted during the war.

Following his return from the war Ralph married Annie McPherson and settled at Fort San, a former sanatorium near Fort Qu’Appelle. Fort San was opened in 1917 during a time when tuberculosis infections were increasing, and was built to house 358 patients. It was a self-sufficient institution with vegetable gardens, livestock, a power house, and an extensive library for patients provided by World War I veterans. Ralph served with the RCAF during WW2, moving to Saskatoon in 1944 where he worked as chief engineer at the Sanatorium until his retirement in 1960. After retirement he operated the Imperial Beach summer resort. Ralph and Annie had four children, sons Ralph, George and Reginald, and daughter Evelyn.

Ralph died on 24 January 1981 in a hospital in Saskatoon. He was predeceased by his sister Alberta in 1922 in Winnipeg, son Reginald in 1934, his father William in 1937 and mother Eliza in 1947 (both interred in the Imperial Cemetery), brother George in 1959 in Los Angeles, brother William in 1964 in Regina, and his wife Annie just 10 days prior to his own death. At the time of his death he was survived by sons Ralph of Winnipeg and George (Mac) of Saskatoon, daughter Evelyn (Roy) Perrin of Killarney, Manitoba, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was also survived by his brothers Vincent of Imperial and Ted of Kenora, and sister Irene (Percy) Strange of White Rock, BC. Ralph and Annie are interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Saskatoon.

by Judy Stockham

gravemarker photo, obituary, and relevant pages from The Imperial Review including the WW2 photo of Ralph and photo of his parents: courtesy of Elsie Henry, Saskatoon

Huggins-Ralph-2 Huggins-Ralph-3 Huggins-Ralph-4

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