Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 18, 1878
Place of BirthKiltearn, Rosshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFather: Donald MacVicar, Portage la Prairie
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer, CPR
Service Details
Regimental NumberVR-2612
BattalionHMS Niobe
BranchRoyal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentOctober 25, 1916
Age at Enlistment38
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 19, 1920
Age at Death42
Buried AtHillside Cemetery, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba

MacVicar, Peter

Peter MacVicar was a well known railway locomotive engineer from Kenora.

His family had immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1894 and purchased a farm near Portage la Prairie. The family included parents Donald (born in 1847) and Susan MacLeod (1848), and their children Neil (1875), George (1877), Peter (1878), Alexander (1880), John (1885), Angus (1889) and Elizabeth (1893). Donald, who’d been a school master and civil registrar in the village of Drummond, Kiltearn, Ross Shire, Scotland, became a successful farmer and later a Justice of the Peace. While most of the children stayed to help their parents run the farm, Peter and his younger Alexander, joined the railroad and became locomotive engineers, with Alex based in Minnedosa, M and Peter in Kenora.

When war broke out in August of 1914, although he was in his mid-30s, Alexander returned to Scotland where he enlisted in the 3rd Glasgow Battalion, Highland Light Infantry. He was one of the early enlistees with the battalion, redesignated the 17th Highland Light Infantry for service in Europe as part of Lord Kitchener’s New Army. The battalion was sent to France in November of 1915. Alex was one of over 450 casualties the battalion suffered on July 1, 1916 — the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Back in Canada, Peter, along with two other Kenora men, brothers Albert and Wilfred Marchant, enlisted in the Canadian Navy in the fall of 1916, travelling to Winnipeg to do so . They left Kenora for Halifax on Nov. 9, and after a short training period aboard the HMCS Niobe, were sent to England as part of a division of 150 sailors   to train and serve with Admiral Beatty’s Royal Navy fleet.

Peter MacVicar was assigned to the Portsmouth Naval Base where he worked in the engine rooms of small vessels patroling the English Channel and serving as ship’s tenders. He quickly earned promotion to Petty Officer. In January 1918 he was promoted to the rank of Stoker Petty Officer, the second highest rating for a non-commissioned officer in the engine room, and transferred to the Devonport naval base.

His health suffered from his service below decks and in May 1918 he was transferred back to Canada. Although nominally part of the Niobe’s crew again, he was given an extended furlough and did not return to active service. He was officially demobilized on Dec 21, 1918.

After the war he returned to his job with the railroad in Kenora for a short time, but suffered from poor health and returned to the family farm near Portage. He died Oct. 19, 1920, at the Portage Hospital from an infection that followed surgery for appendicitis that August.

Although his death was not directly linked to his war service, a guard of honour consisting of Army and Navy veterans from Portage la Prairie served as honorary pallbearers at his funeral and the casket was draped with a Union Jack flag.

Along with having his name inscribed on the Kenora Cenotaph as one of the war dead, his name, along with his brother Alexander’s, is on the Inveraray Memorial in Argyll, Scotland which honours men of that district who gave their lives while in service to their country during the First and Second World Wars.

by Bob Stewart

MacVicar-Peter-1 MacVicar-Peter-2 MacVicar-Peter-3 MacVicar-Peter-4 MacVicar-Peter-5 MacVicar-Peter-6 MacVicar-Peter-7 MacVicar-Peter-8 MacVicar-Peter-9 MacVicar-Peter-10 MacVicar-Peter-12 MacVicar-Peter-11

Grave marker photos: Helen Braden, Canada Gen Web’s Cemetery Project
Inveraray War Memorial photos: Jane Belair

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