Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 12, 1880
Place of BirthBelfast, County Antrim
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinIsabella Thompson (mother), 55 Donegall Pass, Belfast, Ireland
Trade / CallingFur Trader
Service Details
Regimental Number15605
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion8th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentEngland
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 27, 1916
Age at Enlistment35
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 20, 1962
Age at Death82
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotAngel Crest Block, 51E-41-2

Thompson, William Lyons

Birth:    William Lyons Thompson was born Belfast, Antrim, Ireland, July 12, 1880. His parents were Alexander Thompson and Isabella Brady. William had at least one brother, Alexander, born February 16, 1879, also in Belfast, Antrim.  No further information has been located, at this time, for Williams’ family.

Early life: According to his obituary, William came to Canada in 1900 and was employed with the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) at Nipigon until 1905. He then transferred to Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta. William is found in two ships lists travelling from England to Canada. It appears he went back to England sometime after he was in Nipigon as there is a record of him arriving in New York on December 27, 1906 on the  Oceanic.  He was listed as a clerk and his destination was Winnipeg.  There was another sailing on the  Oceanic  with an arrival in New York on October 10, 1911. Once again he was listed as a clerk with a destination of Lake Manitoba.

War experience:    William returned to Britain to enlist in the military.  On September 27, 1915, he attempted to enlist in the Fort Garry Horse at the Canadian Expeditionary Forces offices at Shorncliffe, Kent, England.  He was given the regimental number 15593; however, the Attestation Papers were not signed by a commanding officer. The medical report expressed concern about severe varicose veins.

Four months later, however, this 5 foot 11, blue eyed, brown haired, 35 year old fur trader enlisted   again.  This time, he was successful. On January 27, 1916, he enlisted with the Fort Garry Horse and his new regimental number was 15605. His mother was next of kin and she was living at 55 Donegal Pass, Belfast, Ireland. William was sent to France in February 1916 and he served with the Fort Garry Horse for two years. In April 1918 he was transferred to the 8th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops and by January 1919 he was back in England. He was discharged with the rank of Sergeant on May 27, 1919 in Quebec City. He  was awarded the War Service badge, Class A. He was planning on returning to the Hudson Bay Company in Fort William, for employment.

Life after the war:    William returned to Canada in 1919 and operated a general store in Dinorwic and Ignace. In the 1921 Census, he is recorded as a merchant, living in the township of Southworth in the Port Arthur/Kenora District.  On May 22, 1923, in Kenora, Ontario, William, aged 41, married Marion Blanche Hargrave.  Born March 12, 1901 in Kenora, Marion was the daughter of  Alfred Edward Hargrave (born Melbourne, Quebec) and Sarah Elizabeth Knipe.  William and Marion had three children:  Frances Isabel, born February 24, 1924 in Ignace and died in childhood September 13, 1928; Alexander William born July 22, 1926; and Marilyn Blanche.

Although it is not know for sure when he arrived in Kenora, William was there in 1942 and purchased Smith Bookstore.  He ran this until 1947. He is listed in the 1949 Canada Voters List as retired and living on First Street South in Kenora. His son, Alexander, a student, was residing with him.  It also appears that a Charles Thompson, Butcher, and his wife were living with or near William on First Street South; however, it is unknown if there is a relationship between them.

After  Dorothy died  in 1948, William stayed in Kenora until moving to Edmonton in 1954. He remained there until his death.

While in Kenora, William was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion; a member of the Kenora Golf and Country Club; and, an honorary life member of the Kenora Curling Club. Good friends, some of whom acted a pallbearers, included Len Hakenson, James Hogg and Senator Pete Robertson.

Date of death and burial location:    William died in Edmonton, Alberta on December 21, 1962.  He was buried in the Thompson family plot in the Angel Crest Block in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. Marion died December 11, 1948 in Kenora and is buried in the same plot. At the time of his death, children Alexander and Marion and three grandchildren were all living in Alberta.

By Susan (Hillman) Brazeau in support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died

Library and Archives of Canada- Service Record
Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911. Index. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family Search.
New York Passenger Lists (1906, 1911)
1921 Canada Census
Canada Marriages:   Ontario
1949 Canada Voters’ List:   Kenora, Ontario
Kenora Daily Miner and News: Obituary
Northern Ontario Gravemarkers Gallery

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