Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 13, 1898
Place of BirthNewbattle, Midlothian
Marital StatusSingle
Trade / CallingGrocery van boy
Service Details
Regimental Number54833/42631
Battalion1st Battalion
ForceBritish Army
BranchKing's Own Scottish Borderers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 1, 1948
Age at Death50
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Findlay, John

John Findlay was born on 13 April 1898 in Newbattle, Midlothian, Scotland, a community about twelve kilometres outside of Edinburgh. His father Samuel Findlay, a miner, was born in 1859 Beith in Ayrshire while his mother Jane Manson was born in 1855 in Dailly, Ayrshire. The couple married on 14 February 1890 in Ayr. They first lived in Dalmellington in Ayrshire where Samuel worked as an iron miner and where they gave birth to son Alexander in 1890. By the birth of son George in 1892, the family was living in the mining village of Haywood, Carnwath in Lanarkshire, later giving birth to daughter Agnes in 1895. Moving to Newbattle to coal mine, John was born, followed by son James in 1900. Sadly James died in 1902. By the time of the 1911 census the family was living in Old Cumnock in Ayrshire where Samuel was listed as a coal miner hewer.

John served during WW1 from 1916 to 1919 as a Private with the Highland Light Infantry (regimental number 54833) and latterly with the 1st Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers (regimental number 42631). He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service.

According to his WW2 service record, after discharged in 1919 John worked for about 9 months in the coal mines. Then moving to England, he found work driving truck. John immigrated to Canada in 1928, arriving in Halifax aboard the Franconia on August 18th. On the passenger list his occupation was given as motor driver, with intended occupation once in Canada as farmer, and his contact person from where he came from as his mother in Earlsdon, Coventry in England.

By 1935 John was living in the town of Keewatin near Kenora in northwestern Ontario where he was working as a compression man for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company. On 5 October 1935, in Keewatin, he married Marion Neill Blair. Born in the first quarter of 1899 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland in England, Marion was the daughter of Dugald Stuart Blair and Rothers Makepeace Holmes. By the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Govan, Lancashire in Scotland. By the 1911 census, her father widowed, they were back in England living in Walker, Northumberland. Marion immigrated to Canada in 1929, arriving in Quebec on the 2nd of June on the Andania on her way to Winnipeg. At the time of the marriage Marion was working as a domestic servant. The next year the couple gave birth to son Samuel John followed by son George Bernard (Ben).

John enlisted as a Sapper with the Royal Canadian Engineers on 4 June 1940 in Winnipeg. His date of birth was given as 13 April 1896 (elsewhere in his service record as 1897) in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. His occupation was listed as pipe fitter and truck driver and his next of kin as his wife Marion in Keewatin. With regimental number H-39200, his initial unit was the 2nd Canadian Pioneer Battalion. Over the next three years John served in England with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion as a batman (basic training) and pipe fitter, as a night cook at the Officers Mess No 1 Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Unit, and latterly as a despatch rider with the 7th Canadian Construction Company. In 1943 John requested a return to civilian life due to his age and was discharged from service on 27 October 1943 in Winnipeg. For his service he was awarded the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and the War Medal 1939-1945.

John died on 1 May 1948 in the Kenora General Hospital. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Marion and his two sons as well as his sister Agnes in Montreal and a brother in Medicine Hat. Up until his illness he had been working at the Provincial Goal. He was a member of the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion and the Keewatin United Church. After his death Marion was found listed on a number of Voters lists for Keewatin, the last one in 1972. Further trace of her was not found. John is interred in a Legion Plot in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora, his grave marker recently replaced.

By Judy Stockham

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Son Samuel’s obituary provided by Cathy McGregor, Winnipeg