|Date of Birth||December 27, 1889|
|Place of Birth||Severn Bridge, Muskoka County, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive fireman|
|Battalion||56th Pioneer Infantry|
|Force||American Expeditionary Forces|
|Address at Enlistment||Suite 2, Ella Apartments, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||About 1918|
|Date of Death||March 21, 1976|
|Age at Death||86|
|Buried At||Valley View Memorial Gardens, Surrey, British Columbia|
Private George Theodore Bateson was the son of John Hope Bateson and Agnes Victoria (nee Bateson) of Ely, St. Louis County, Minnesota. John and Agnes were of Scottish and Irish ancestry and they were both born in Victoria County, Ontario. They were married in 1882 in Somerville Township, Victoria County. George was born on 27 December 1889 in Severn Bridge, Muskoka County. He was one of at least five children – Mary Elizabeth (1883), John Alvin (1885), Richard Hope (1887), George (1889) and Pearl Amelia (1893) – all born in Ontario. When the 1891 census was taken the family was living in Orillia, Ontario and John was a general labourer.
George moved to Minnesota with his family in 1896 and they settled in Ely, where his father worked as a foreman on steam boats. Sadly his mother died in 1900, possibly in childbirth, and she’s buried in Ely Cemetery. John remarried around 1902 and moved to Laurel, Nebraska with his wife Euphemia and his daughter Pearl. When the 1910 census was taken George was boarding with a family in Hibbing, Minnesota and working as a fireman on steam boats. His oldest brother John Alvin was married and also living in Hibbing.
George moved back to Ontario around 1914 and found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway. The war started in August that year and Canada played a major role in providing skilled railway workers for the construction and operation of railroads in France and Belgium. By January 1917 George was working as a fireman for the CPR in Kenora, Ontario. The local newspaper carried an article on 31 January 1917 saying that twenty CPR engineers and firemen had enlisted for service that week. The list of firemen included G. Bateson. It’s possible that George wasn’t accepted for some reason or he changed his mind about enlisting as no record has been found of him serving in the Canadian forces.
The U.S. entered the war in April 1917 and George completed his U.S. draft registration card on 3 October 1917. His address at the time was the Railway YMCA in Kenora, his birth date was listed as 27 December 1889, his birth place as Ely, Minnesota and he was single with no dependents. He said he was employed by the CPR in Kenora. George was married in Winnipeg on 20 April 1918. His wife, Melina/Malina Young, was born in 1901 in Lac Seul, Ontario. Her parents were John Young and Ellen Thompson (or Thomas) and she had at least ten brothers and sisters. John died in 1904 and sometime after that Ellen moved her family to Kenora. She married Charles Flett in 1907. Two of Melina’s brothers served in the war, Lawrence Young and James Young, as well as her brother-in-law Nichol Finlayson and her stepbrother Hector Flett. Lawrence died of wounds in 1917 and he’s buried in France.
George was likely called up for service around the time he was married. His address at the time was the Ella Apartments in Winnipeg. He returned to the U.S. and joined Company M of the 56th Pioneer Infantry, which trained at Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina. He was assigned to his unit’s 2nd Overseas Detachment. The 56th Pioneer Infantry was sent to France in August 1918 but the details of George’s service are not known. By January 1919 he was discharged from the army and his wife had joined him in Hibbing, Minnesota. George and Melina returned to Ontario together on 16 January 1919, crossing at Fort Frances, Ontario. George said he planned to go back to his former employment.
In April 1919 a large reception was held for returned soldiers at the Tourist Hotel in Kenora. Over 1,200 people attended including 200 servicemen and nurses. The next day the Kenora Miner and News published a list of some of the local soldiers who were back from service and George’s name was among them. He’s also listed in the files of the Minnesota War Records Commission as a WW1 veteran from St. Louis County, Minnesota.
When the 1921 census was taken George and his wife were living in Kenora and the household included their son Gordon, born in 1920, and Melina’s mother Ellen Flett. George was employed as a locomotive fireman. He and his wife moved to Winnipeg in the late 1920s and he continued his career with the CPR, becoming an engineer by 1928. His son Gordon joined the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. He trained on the west coast and spent some of his time as an instuctor.
George retired from the railway in the mid-1950s then worked for a few years as an assistant engineer at the Marlborough Hotel. He and Melina moved to Vancouver around 1964. George passed away in the Vancouver General Hospital on 21 March 1976, at age 86. He was survived by his wife and their son Gordon. His funeral was held two days later and he’s buried in Valley View Memorial Gardens in Surrey.
By Becky Johnson