Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 2, 1887
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Trade / CallingCivil Engineer
Service Details
BattalionSpruce Squadron
ForceU.S. Army
BranchSpruce Production Division
Address at EnlistmentPortland, Oregon
Theatre of ServiceUnited States
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 2, 1959
Age at Death72
Buried AtRiver View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon
PlotSec 07, Lot 104, Grave 14

Parsons, Henry Edmund

Henry Edmund Parsons was born 2 January 1887 in Rat Portage, Ontario. His parents were Alfred Joseph Parsons and Florence Nightingale Johnstone. Alfred and Florence were both born in Quebec, Alfred in Huntingdon and his wife in Sorel. They were married in Montreal in October 1883 and their first child, Beatrice, was born the following year. A short time later the family moved to Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario and four sons were born there: Alfred Cecil (1885), Henry Edmund/Edmond, Edgar Joseph (1891) and Frederick William (1895). Around 1886 Alfred became the postmaster in Rat Portage, which was later renamed Kenora, and he held the position until his retirement in 1921.

Henry was usually known as Harry and he moved to Portland, Oregon before the start of the First World War. Beatrice, Cecil and Edgar also moved there but Frederick and their parents stayed in Kenora. Frederick enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the fall of 1915 and he served overseas for three years. The U.S. entered the war in April 1917 and Harry completed his World War I U.S. draft card on 1 June in Portland. He was single, 30 years old, living in Portland and working as a civil engineer for a lumber company. According to his obituary he served with a U.S. Army Spruce Squadron, part of the army’s Spruce Production Division. The men were stationed in the Pacific Northwest and they produced lumber for the construction of aircraft. They also built railways and roads to reach new stands of timber and operated railroads and transport trucks. Most of the troops were demobilized shortly after the Armistice.

When the 1920 U.S. census was taken Harry was married and living in Portland with his wife, Norma Laura Hummel, and her parents William and Lena Hummel. Norma was born in Portland in 1887 and she married Harry around 1919. In 1920 Harry was employed as a civil engineer for an engineering firm. By 1930 he was working as a civil engineer for an oil firm and at the time of the 1940 census he was a civil engineer involved in gun construction for the U.S. Army Engineers. Sometime after that he had a career in real estate.

Harry passed away in the Portland Veterans Hospital on 2 March 1959, at age 72. His funeral was held three days later and he’s buried in River View Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, his brothers Cecil, Edgar and Frederick and his sister Beatrice (Mrs. Harry Elliott). His mother had died in Kenora in 1918 and his father in Portland in 1937. Norma passed away in 1988, at age 100, and she’s buried with Harry in River View Cemetery. Also interred there Harry’s sister Beatrice and their father. Edgar died in 1970 and he’s buried in Siskiyou Memorial Park in Medford, Oregon. Frederick passed away in 1978 and he’s interred at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Grants Pass, Oregon. Cecil died in Florida in 1987.

By Becky Johnson

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River View grave marker photos courtesy of FriendsofRiverView on

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