Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 5, 1890
Place of BirthDinorwic, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn D MacKenzie, father, 380 Dawson Street, Port Arthur, Ontario
Trade / CallingMoving Picture Operator
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number1251314
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion78th Depot Battery
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentCalgary, Alberta
Address at EnlistmentVulcan, Alberta
Date of EnlistmentNovember 8, 1917
Age at Enlistment27
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 22, 1956
Age at Death66
Buried AtBurnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta

MacKenzie, Duncan Bruce

According to his Alberta death record, Duncan Bruce MacKenzie was born on 5 July 1890 in Dinorwic, Ontario. A birth record was not found. His father John Duncan MacKenzie, a long time Hudson Bay Company employee in northwestern Ontario, was from the Fort Frances area, John’s father James also employed by the HBC. Duncan’s mother Flora Edith Grant was born in Stratford, Ontario and at the time of the 1891 census her parents Benjamin and Jeannette (née McNabb) Grant were running a Canadian Pacific Railway dining room in Savanne in northwestern Ontario. John and Flora married on 5 November 1889 in Winnipeg. Sadly, Flora died on 15 July 1890 in Rat Portage (later named Kenora), Ontario. Given their marriage date and her death date, it is possible that Duncan was born in Rat Portage ten days before her death. From 1887 to 1900 Duncan’s father John was stationed at Lac la Pluie (near present day Fort Frances), then Savanne from 1900 to 1902, at Lac Seul from 1902 to 1909, and then on to Dinorwic from 1909 to 1915 until transferring to Fort William until his retirement. On 29 September 1897, in Rat Portage, John married Jessie Catherine Mitchell. The couple gave birth to seven children, many dying in infancy: Gordon Mitchell (February 1889 – March 1889), Gordon Fraser (1900 – 1910), Cyril Leslie (b 1901), Doris Marguerite (1903 – 1988), infant (1904 – 1904), Flora Catherine (March 1907 – March 1907), and James Douglas (b 1911). Along with Flora and her parents, John (d 1953) and his parents, and Jessie (d 1965), the children that died young are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. By the time of the 1901 census, Duncan was living with his uncle and aunt, James and Nancy MacKenzie, in Rat Portage, while his father and Jessie were living in Savanne. Duncan’s later obituary noted that he was a star goal tender for the Rat Portage (Kenora) hockey clubs.

Duncan signed his attestation papers with the 78th Depot Battery, Canadian Field Artillery on 8 November 1917 in Calgary, Alberta. At the time he was living in Vulcan, Alberta and working as a moving picture operator. Elsewhere in his service record his occupation was given as railway conductor/railway man. His date and place of birth were given as 5 July 1889 in Dinorwic and his father John in Port Arthur as next of kin. While in training in Calgary, he was admitted to the Military Hospital with myalgia and rheumatism from early March to mid April of 1918. Then moving on to Petawawa, Ontario for further training, he was admitted to a hospital for lumbago in mid August for eighteen days. Transferring to the No 13 Artillery Depot back in Calgary, Duncan was discharged from service on demobilization on 23 November 1918 in Calgary, rank of Sergeant.

At some point during 1919, in Calgary, Duncan married Isobel Spofford (née Tibbetts) Ball. Born on 28 August 1889 in Parkersburg, West Virginia, Isobel was the daughter of Walter Tibbetts and Addie Smith. On 6 December 1909, in Anderson, Madison in Indiana, Isobel had married Clarence Edgar Ball. Along with her parents, the couple had moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta by the time of the 1911 Canada census and then on to Calgary by the time of the 1916 census, Clarence no longer with the family. Isobel and Clarence gave birth to one child, son Walter Tibbitts Ball, before the marriage failed.

Duncan and Isobel stayed in the Calgary/Bowness area where Duncan was the projectionist in the Capital and Variety Theatres in Calgary and latterly in the Bow Theatre in Bowness. At one point he was president of the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Calgary Trades and Labour Council. Duncan was also a labour delegate to the General Hospital Board, a member of the Board of Industrial Relations, a secretary of the District 12, local 302 of the Projectionists Union, a life member of the Army, Navy, and Airforce Veterans’ Association, and a member of the Canadian Legion BESL. Duncan’s wife Isobel died on 6 June 1949 in Calgary and is interred in the Union Cemetery. According to her obituary she was survived by Duncan, son Walter, and a cousin. After her death Duncan later married Elaine, surname given as Klein on Duncan’s death record.

Duncan died on 22 September 1956 in he Calgary General Hospital. According to his obituary, at the time of his death he was survived by his wife Elaine and sons Steven, Rodney, and Duncan, likely Elaine’s children. He was also survived by his half siblings Cyril and James of Toronto, and Doris Nelson of Rosthern, Saskatchewan, and their mother Jessie of Toronto. Duncan is interred in the Field of Honour in the Burnsland Cemetery in Calgary.

By Judy Stockham

Grave marker photograph provided by Tanya & John,

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