|Date of Birth||1876 or 1877|
|Place of Birth||Possibly in Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Annie McEachern (cousin), Ymir, British Columbia|
|Trade / Calling||Miner|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Nelson, British Columbia|
|Date of Enlistment||September 6, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||39 or 40|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 10, 1948|
|Age at Death||71 or 72|
|Buried At||Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia|
Sapper William Lavigne was living in the Nelson area in British Columbia when he enlisted on 6 September 1916. According to his attestation paper he was born on 27 January 1876 in Kenora, Ontario, although it’s very unlikely he was actually born there. His death registration records his birth as 19 February 1877 in Ontario and his parents as Frederick Lavigne and Mary Grace Feeney, both apparently deceased by the time he enlisted. On his attestation his occupation was miner, he was listed as single and next of kin was his cousin Annie McEachern in Ymir, British Columbia. He said he had served for three years with the ’23rd Idaho’ in the U.S. Army.
William signed up with the 211th Battalion and trained with them in BC for about three months. The troops headed overseas in December, embarking from Halifax on the SS Olympic and arriving at Liverpool around the end of the month. William was in the hospital for an unspecified illness from 29 December to 25 January 1917. In March the 211th Battalion was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops depot, based at Purfleet. On 6 April William was assigned to a newly organized unit, the 8th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops. He arrived in France two weeks later and served with the battalion for almost two years.
Railway troops were involved in all aspects of the construction and maintenance of railways in France and Belgium. In March 1918 William had two weeks leave in France and in November the Armistice ended hostilities on the Western Front. William’s unit returned to England in February 1919 and he embarked for Canada around the end of March. He was discharged on demobilization on 14 April in Calgary, Alberta.
When the 1921 census was taken William was lodging at a hotel in Ymir and working at a lumber camp. Around 1942 he became a patient at the Provincial Mental Hospital in Essondale, British Columbia. He passed away there on 10 June 1948 with the cause of death being senility with dementia. He was about 71 years old at the time and his occupation was logger. William is buried in a veteran’s plot in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.
By Becky Johnson