Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 9, 1884
Place of BirthWest Lorne, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSister: Lena McLennan of West Lorne, Ontario
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer
Service Details
Regimental Number2125015
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 31, 1917
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 8, 1976
Age at Death91
Buried AtChapel Lawn Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg, Manitoba

McLennan, John Alexander

John Alexander McLennan was among many skilled who recruited during the First World War, not to fight in the trenches, but for their peacetime skills needed in the war effort.

McLennan was born in West Lorne, Elgin County, Ontario Oct. 9, 1884 to Kenneth McLennan and Catherine McRae. As a young man he’d joined the Canadian Pacific Railway company and moved west to work as a locomotive engineer. In the 1906 census he was based in Manitoba, and by 1916 was living at the YMCA in Kenora and driving trains in the Kenora CPR Division.

In January of 1917 the army put out a call for volunteers from the countries railways, primarily engineers and brakeman, to run trains in France serving the allied war effort.

McLennan was one of 32 men from the Kenora CPR division to volunteer with the No. 1 Section, Skilled Railway Employees unit, signing his attestation papers Jan. 31, 1917 in Winnipeg.

Because the men were sought for their railway skills military training was brief and the No. 1 section, with volunteers from across Canada, sailed for England on March 4, 1917 with 265 men and four officers on their nominal roll.

After training in England for a month where McLennan was promoted to Acting Corporal, the men moved on the France and John McLennan was assigned as a locomotive engineer with the No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company.

McLellan remained in France with the No. 58 Company until April 1919, except for a two-week leave in England in March 1918.

Following his return to Canada and his discharge in Winnipeg May 27, 1919, McLennan returned to Kenora and his job with the CPR.

On Sept. 8, 1920 he married Myrtle Anne Clarke in Kenora. The 1921 census lists them as living with Myrtle’s sister Jennie and her husband Severin Onarheim and their children. John and Myrtle remained in Kenora for many years, raising two daughters – Catherine and Helen.

Myrtle passed away in 1967 at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg and John later moved to Neepawa, Manitoba to live with his daughter Catherine and her family. He passed away there in January 1976 at the age of 91.

His obituary noted his long service to the railway in Kenora and the Masonic Lodge.

by Bob Stewart

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