Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 10, 1868
Place of BirthVictoria County, Nova Scotia
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinNettie McRitchie (wife), Rainy River, Ontario
Trade / CallingMariner
Service Details
Regimental Number198246
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionInland Water Transport
ForceBritish Army
BranchRoyal Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentRainy River, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentRainy River, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentNovember 22, 1915
Age at Enlistment47
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain and Italy
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 11, 1941
Age at Death72
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

McRitchie, Roderick

Company Quarter-Master Sergeant Roderick McRitchie was the son of Donald McRitchie and Anna McLeod of Kenora, Ontario. He was born on 10 October 1868 in Victoria County, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and he had at least six brothers and five sisters. His family moved to Ontario in the 1890s and settled in Rat Portage (later called Kenora), on Lake of the Woods. Roderick and two of his brothers became steamboat captains and their father worked as a boat builder.

Roderick was married in Rat Portage on 27 April 1898. His wife, Gudny (Nettie) Johnson, was born in Iceland and she was about five years younger than him. They had at least eight children: Anna (1899), twins Roderick and Ross (1901) and Alexandra (1903), all born in Rat Portage; Rhoda (born in Winnipeg in 1905), Donald (born in Rainy River in 1907), Margaret (1910) and Florence (1912). Sadly the twin boys died at age one and Alexandra at age 13. Roderick usually worked as a steamboat captain during the summer and he and his wife sometimes spent the winter in Winnipeg. They also lived in Rainy River for awhile, where Roderick operated a hotel.

The war started in August 1914 and Roderick enlisted the following year, signing up in Rainy River on 22 November 1915. He served in Canada for almost nine months with the 94th and 148th Battalions and he was discharged on 4 August 1916. He enlisted again on 10 May 1917, this time in Winnipeg where he joined the Inland Water Transport section of the Royal Engineers. He was still living in Rainy River at the time, with his occupation listed as master mariner. On 5 August he was appointed Acting Sergeant and five days later he embarked for the UK. His brother Philip was serving in France by then as a doctor with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Another brother   John had also joined the Inland Water Transport section of the Royal Engineers.

In the fall of 1917 Roderick’s parents both died in Kenora, his father on 11 October and his mother three days later. Roderick was in Italy at the time, where he served for more than a year. On 6 June 1918 he was appointed Acting Company Quarter-Master Sergeant and on 26 June he was promoted to Corporal. On 21 September, about seven weeks before the Armistice, he was promoted to Company Quarter-Master Sergeant. Roderick returned to England on 12 April 1919. His brother Philip was living in London at the time. Roderick embarked for Canada on 14 May on the SS Grampian, arriving in Quebec eight days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 23 June. His wife and children were living at 518 Home Street in Winnipeg and he joined his family there.

When the 1921 census was taken Roderick and his wife were still in Winnipeg and his occupation was Captain. For the next twenty years he usually worked on Lake of the Woods during the summer and fall and spent the winters in Winnipeg. He passed away in St. Boniface Hospital on 11 January 1941, at age 72, survived by his wife and their five children. Nettie died in 1970 and they are both buried in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

By Becky Johnson

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