|Date of Birth||September 22, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Toronto, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Student|
|Branch||Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||January 14, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain and Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 13, 1975|
|Age at Death||78|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
Harold James Connolly was born on 22 September 1896 in Toronto, Ontario. His father John Frederick Connolly, a first generation Canadian of Irish descent, was from Montreal while his mother Mary Preston Hardigan was born in Ireland, immigrating to Canada as a child. John and Mary married on 28 October 1884 in Montreal, John’s occupation at the time given as clerk. A short time later the couple moved to Brockville, Ontario where John worked first as a ticket agent and then as a contractor. Children born in Brockville were Ruby Eleanor (1887), Frederick Preston (1889), Francis Roy (1891), and Norma Pauline (1893). By the birth of their next child, daughter Hazel Ann in 1895, the family had moved to Toronto. Other children born in Toronto were Harold and Myrtle Alice (1899). Sadly, by the time of the 1901 census Francis Roy was no longer with the family. Living on Avenue Road in Toronto, one of the wealthier areas of the city, various censuses gave John’s occupation as sewer contractor, waterworks contractor, and building contractor. The family also employed a live-in domestic. By the age of 11 Harold was attending the prestigious Upper Canada College just up the street from where they lived. At age 15 he transferred to St Michael’s College, a Catholic private school affiliated with the University of Toronto and by 1916 Harold was listed as a student at the University of Toronto.
By 14 January 1917, Harold had joined the Royal Flying Corps, listed as a probationary flight officer, Naval Wing (Royal Naval Air Service) on a list of the day. By 9 September 1918 he was listed as a Temporary Sub-Lieutenant with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, first serving on the Hermione for course of instruction and then later as Sub-Lieutenant on Motor Launch 333. At the outbreak of World War I, the Hermione became guard ship at Southampton, later becoming HQ Ship for motor launches and coastal motor boats from December 1916 until December 1919. Suffering from influenza, in mid October of 1918 Harold was admitted to a hospital in Haslar on the south coast of England. Later found fit for service again, he was assigned to the Rhine Flotilla, Motor Launch 260. After the Armistice of 11 November 1918 a flotilla of 12 Royal Navy Motor Launches traveled down the Rhine performing duty as the Rhine Patrol Flotilla. In mid September of 1919, a telegraph was sent by Admiral Trowbridge that Harold had left Budapest for England overland. A notation in his service record on 13 January 1920 indicated that he was to be demobilized on return to England, later changed on 27 March to on return to Canada. Harold arrived in Halifax aboard the Canada on 23 February 1920, occupation given as Royal Navy on the passenger list and destination as his parents’ home in Toronto. For his service during the war as a Probationary Flight Officer with the Royal Naval Air Service, he was awarded the British War Medal.
Returning to Toronto, Harold was back living with his parents and some of his siblings while attending school at the time of the 1921 census. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1924 as a Civil Engineer. It is possible that after graduation he found work in Kenora in northwestern Ontario. On 14 September 1928, in Toronto, Harold married Elizabeth Ann Rivers. Born as Anny Elisabet Häger on 24 November 1902 in Sundsvall, Västernorrland in Sweden, Elizabeth was the daughter of Anny Katarina Häger. Along with her mother and sister Elsa, she emigrated from Sweden in the fall of 1903, leaving the parish for the United States on 3 October. Settling in Kenora, her mother married Frederick Horace Rivers on 31 October 1906, the children later assuming the Rivers surname.
For a 1935 Voters list, Harold and Elizabeth were living on Manor Road East in Toronto, the list indicating that Harold was working as civil engineer. At some point the couple gave birth to two children, son James and daughter Carol. By the mid 1940’s the family had moved to Ottawa where Harold continued to work as a civil engineer with his obituary stating it was in the field of aviation. In 1955 James graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa.
In later life after retirement, Harold and Elizabeth moved to Kingstree, South Carolina where their son James practiced occupational/preventative medicine. Harold and Elizabeth both died in Kingstree in 1975, Harold on 13 June followed by Elizabeth on 12 October. At the time of his death Harold was survived by is wife, son James, daughter Carol LeFebvre of Smiths Falls, Ontario, six grandchildren, and his sisters Hazel Silliplant of Brantford, Ontario and Alice England of Toronto. Funeral services were held in Kenora, Ontario, followed by interment in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.
By Judy Stockham
Photograph of Harold is from the University of Toronto Archives, graduating class of 1924.