Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 26, 1883
Place of BirthWindsor, Nova Scotia
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs SC Wilcox, wife, Annapolis, Nova Scotia
Trade / CallingCivil Engineer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion12th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment268 Wellington Crescent, Winnipeg
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 4, 1916
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 12, 1969
Age at Death86
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Wilcox, Sydney Charles

Sydney Charles Wilcox was born on 26 July 1883 in Windsor, Hants, Nova Scotia. His father Charles Smith Wilcox was from Windsor while his mother Emma Gertrude Thom was from Quebec City where the couple married in 1880. Returning to Windsor, Charles and his brother George were both hardware merchants. Children born to the family were Percy Lawrence (1881), Sydney Charles, Noel Howard (1889), and Eva Gertrude (1891). Both Percy and Sydney attended King’s College to become civil engineers while Noel joined the clergy. Sydney’s father died in Windsor in 1909. The following year Sydney married Constance Whitman, daughter of Francis and Florence (née Ritchie) Whitman of Annapolis. Francis was also a merchant, immigrating to Canada from the US in 1869.

By the 1911 census Sydney and Constance had moved to Kenora, Ontario where Sydney had found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Their first child, daughter Gertrude, was born that July in Kenora. By 1914 the family had moved to Winnipeg where their second child, son Charles, was born.

Sydney’s military career had begun back in Nova Scotia as early as 1901 where he was found listed as a Second Lieutenant with the 68th Regiment in Windsor. With rank of Lieutenant he signed his Officers’ Declaration Paper on 4 January 1916 in Winnipeg, unit of active Militia given as 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers. By the time the 100th embarked from Halifax aboard the Olympic on 18 September 1916, Sydney had been promoted to Captain. For the duration of the war, Constance and the children returned to Annapolis.

Once overseas Sydney was transferred to the 2nd Canadian Labour Battalion in December of 1916, arriving in France the following February. In late October he was granted a ten day leave to England and shortly after his return in November the designation of his battalion was changed to 12th Battalion Canadian Railway Troops. By December he was appointed Temporary Major in the field. The story of the Canadian Railway Troops participation in the war can be found here. In June of 1918 Sydney was granted a  fourteen day leave to the UK, followed by a nine day leave to Nice in November. By early January of 1919 he was back in England and embarked for Canada aboard the Princess Juliana on February 8th. Sydney was discharged from service on demobilization on March 4th in Ottawa.

After the war Sydney, Gertrude, and their three children (another son, Arthur, was born in 1920)  lived in Brandon, Manitoba before returning to Kenora where Sydney eventually retired in 1948 as Divisional Engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Sydney was active in the church, serving on the vestry and as Rector’s Warden for St Alban’s Pro-Cathedral in Kenora. He was a member of the executive of the Diocese of Keewatin and was a lay member of the Cathedral Chapter. A charter member and past president of the Rotary Club, he was also a life member of the Lake of the Woods Officers’ Institute and the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. He served on the Town Planning Board and the Secondary School Board.

Predeceased by his father, his mother in 1942 back in Nova Scotia, and by his wife Constance in 1958, Sydney died in Kenora on 12 August 1969. He is interred along side Constance in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. Daughter Gertrude married Frederick Jackson  in 1943 and the couple had two children, a daughter Abigail who died at age two, and a son. Fred died in Kenora in 1990 followed by Gertrude in 2002. Both are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Son Charles, employed for many years with the Bank of Montreal, married Daphne Gunne in 1943 in Kenora. The couple had three children, two sons and a daughter. Following in his father’s footstep, Charles served in the Canadian Armed Forces  during WW2. Survived by Daphne and the three children, Charles died in Winnipeg in 1994. Son Arthur entered the clergy, graduating from the Seminary School at St John’s College in Winnipeg, ordained Deacon in 1947 and was Priested in 1948 in Brandon, Manitoba. He  also served during WW2, enlisting as a LAC  in 410 Squadron RCAF.  Arthur married Frances Enid Harvard in Winnipeg in 1948. Survived by Enid and three sons and a  daughter, Arthur died in 2007 in Calgary, Alberta.

Sydney’s brother Percy signed his Officers’ Declaration Paper with the 112th Battalion in July of 1916 in Windsor. He served in France and Belgium from August of 1917 to January of 1919. It appears that no other members  of Sydney’s family left Nova Scotia.

by Judy Stockham

Photograph of Sydney, Gertrude and Charles and letter of 14 June 1917 to Gertrude courtesy of the  family/Lake of the Woods Museum.

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