Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 1, 1873
Place of BirthEnglishtown, Victoria County, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinDonald McRitchie (father), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingMaster mariner/seaman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number233146
BattalionInland Water Transport
ForceBritish Army
BranchRoyal Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Address at EnlistmentColumbia Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentDecember 9, 1916
Age at Enlistment43
Theatre of ServiceMesopotamia and India
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 13, 1953
Age at Death79
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia

McRitchie, John

Sapper John McRitchie was born on 1 November 1873 in Englishtown, Cape Breton Island, one of at least twelve children of Donald McRitchie and Anna McLeod. By the 1890s his family had moved to the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. When the 1901 census was taken John and his brothers William and Roderick were steamboat captains and their father was a boat builder. Around 1910 William moved west to Vancouver where he worked as a mariner and John joined him there a few years later.

John’s brother Philip became a doctor and he signed up with the Royal Army Medical Corps early in the war. John enlisted next, joining the Inland Water Transport section of the Royal Engineers. He signed up on 9 December 1916 in Vancouver and by early 1917 he was in England. He was assigned to No. 2 Company of the Inland Water Transport section. On 22 April he embarked from Plymouth on his way to Mesopotamia. He landed in Basra six months later, on 21 October. Just before he arrived both of his parents passed away in Kenora, his father on 11 October and his mother three days later. A double funeral was held on 15 October. Roderick had joined the Inland Water Transport section in May 1917 and by October he was serving in Italy.

In December 1917 John became ill with dysentery and he spent some time in the 33rd British General Hospital in Basra. In January 1918 he was sent to India and he served there for six months. On 13 June 1918 he embarked from Bombay to return to Mesopotamia. The Armistice ended hostilities in November and by February 1919 John was back in England. He spent three months in the UK and his brother Philip was living in London at the time. John sailed for Canada on 18 May on the SS Aquitania, arriving in Halifax a week later. He was discharged on demobilization on 27 June. His character was described as very good and he was awarded the Victory Medal.

John returned to Vancouver and worked for the next 14 years as a mariner and commercial fisherman. He retired in 1933, at age 60, and applied for his war veteran’s pension. He passed away in Shaughnessy Veterans Hospital in Vancouver on 13 February 1953, at age 79, and he’s buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

Grave marker photo taken by cemetery staff and uploaded to by Islandergirl with permission.


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