Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 31, 1896
Place of BirthRat Portage, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs Helen Paterson, mother, Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingRailroad Brakeman
Service Details
Regimental Number2125137
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo 1 Section, Skilled Railway Employees
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentNorman, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 13, 1917
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 22, 1989
Age at Death92
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Paterson, James Stewart

Although he grew up in Norman, Ontario James Stewart Paterson was born in nearby Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) on 31 July 1896. His parents John Alexander Paterson and Helen (Nellie) Clark were both from Dundee, Scotland where the couple had married in 1881. After the birth of their first two children, John in 1882 and Joseph in 1885, John Sr immigrated to Canada in 1885 followed by Nellie and the two children. They settled in Norman where John first worked as a baker, then in the local sawmills for a number of years, returned to baking, and in latter years, as postmaster for the Norman post office. Children born in Canada were Charles (1887), Alexander (1889), Norman and Euphemia (1891), Nellie (1893), James, and Isabelle (1898). A street in Norman bears the Paterson name.

Jim signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 13 February 1917, occupation given as railroad brakeman and next of kin his mother Helen in Norman. Perhaps to appear older he gave his birth year as 1894. A Kenora newspaper article of the seventeenth of February spoke of Jim, along with six other Kenora men that had signed up for overseas service with the No 1 Skilled Railway Operators, entraining in Kenora to head east on the first leg of the journey to the front.

Listed as a Private on the nominal rolls of the No 1 Section, Skilled Railway Employees, Jim embarked from Halifax aboard the Ausonia on 4 March 1917. First redesignated as the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers that March, the unit was changed to the No 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians) Royal Engineers on April 7th and arrived in France on April 19th. ‘This unit was operating lines in the immediate rear of active operations and hauled troops, ammunition, supplies, material, ambulance trains, refugees for the battles of Messines Ridge, June 1917, and the Lys, April 1918.’ (Library and Archives Canada). A description of some of the activities of the 58th Broad Gauge Operation Company was summarized in the Canadian Rail’s November December 1993 edition that marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the war:   ‘The Canadian Railway Troops on World War 1’ . Jim was granted a two week leave to the UK in late August of 1918 and a second leave to Paris in mid March of 1919. He returned to England in mid April and embarked for Canada on 14 May. Jim was discharged from service on demobilization on 30 May in Winnipeg.

After the war Jim returned to Norman/Kenora, working as a trainman on the spare board for the Canadian Pacific Railway from 1921 to 1936. In 1927, in Winnipeg, Jim married Mildred Reekie. Mildred was born in Leurchars, Scotland in 1889 and had immigrated to Canada in 1911 to live with her mother and stepfather in Winnipeg. At the time of the marriage she was working as a telephone operator. In 1936 Jim was hired by the Keewatin Lumber Company, driving and operating their lumber truck. He later worked for Mando, the company that owned the local paper mill, driving the supply truck for the logging division of the company. He was responsible for trucking in supplies to the company logging camps throughout the area.

Predeceased by his father John in 1932, his mother Nellie in 1938, his wife Mildred in 1960, and all of his siblings, Jim died on 22 March 1989 at his home in the Lake of the Woods Hotel in Kenora. Along with Mildred he is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

Jim’s brother Norman enlisted in 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec and went overseas with the 16th Battalion. Wounded twice, he returned to Norman/Kenora after the war.

by Judy Stockham

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