Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 6, 1896
Place of BirthOttawa, Carleton, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Service Details
BattalionQueen's Canadian Military Hospital (Walmer and Queen's), Beachborough Park, West Sandling (Shorncliffe)
ForceBritish Army
BranchVoluntary Aid Detachment
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentNovember 1, 1916
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 20, 1971
Age at Death75
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Kennedy, Jean Victoria

Jean Victoria Kennedy was born on 6 May 1896 in Ottawa, Carleton, Ontario. Her father Robert Alexander Kennedy, a first generation Irish Canadian, was originally from Uxbridge, Ontario (b 8 January 1860) although by the 1871 census the family had moved to Gloucester, Russell near Ottawa to farm. Her mother Victoria Jane (Jennie) Dent was born in Thurso, Papineau, Quebec (b 23 February 1865) where her family too farmed, but by the time of Robert and Jennie’s marriage on 2 July 1889, were living in Rockland, Russell where her father was working as a merchant. Robert, a physician and surgeon of the 1886 class of McGill University, and Jennie settled in Ottawa, giving birth to their first son George Lionel on 23 April 1890, followed by son Harold Samuel on 17 July 1892, and then Jean. A prominent family, Jennie was well known as a distinguished clubwoman, political speaker, social worker, and ¬†women’s rights activist.

Jean received her early education in Ottawa, later attending the exclusive Branksome Hall in Toronto where tuition today for a boarding student is close to $55 000/year as well as outside costs of about $5 000 for activities, uniforms, books.

Jean served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment during the war. From November 1916 until mid February of 1917 she was working at the Westcliffe Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital in Folkstone, England. Invalided to Canada in 1917, Jean returned to England in January of 1918, serving at the Queen’s Canadian Military Hospital Beachborough Park at Shorncliffe until that September. For her service during the war Jean was awarded the British War Medal. All of Jean’s family was to serve during the war. Captains Robert Kennedy and George Kennedy served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, Captain Harold Kennedy served with the 3rd Tunnelling Company, Canadian Engineers and was awarded the Military Cross, and Jean’s mother Jennie was treasurer of the Women’s Canadian Club for War Work at Folkstone from 1916-1919 and was Honorary Matron of the King George and Queen Mary Maple Leaf Club in London.

Jean was next found on the 1921 census for Toronto, listed as a interne/pupil at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. On 2 June 1923, in Ottawa, Jean married WW1 veteran Joseph Harvey (Ladd) Johnson. Born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ladd had graduated from the University of Toronto in 1922 and was working in Toronto as a physician at the time of the marriage. Intended place of residence after the marriage was given as Ottawa where the couple gave birth to their only child, Jeanne Kennedy Johnson on 5 February 1926.

As recounted by a family member, suffering from tuberculosis and needing recuperation, Ladd, Jean, and Jeanne relocated to Kenora where Ladd eventually opened his own ear, nose, and throat specialty practice.

Although details of her service are not known, following in her father’s footsteps, Corporal Jeanne Kennedy Johnson, RCAF, Women’s Division, married Flying Officer, RCAF Donald Wesley Messecar on 12 April 1945 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Donald served as a reconnaissance pilot for the RCAF for three years during and immediately after WW2. He then became a American citizen and joined the US Air Force, serving in occupied Japan, Greenland, and London. Trained as a meteorologist, he became a senior forecaster for the Air Force Strategic Air Command. After retirement, he later worked as a civilian meteorologist in Nebraska. Jeanne and Donald had two sons and lived in many different places over the course of their marriage.

Jean died on 20 August 1971 in Kenora. She was predeceased by her brother Dr George Kennedy on 24 November 1930 in Hartford, Connecticut, her mother Jennie on 20 October 1931 in Ottawa, and her father Robert on 26 April 1939 in Orillia. All are interred in the Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa. At the time of her death she was survived by her husband Ladd, daughter Jeanne and son-in-law of Omaha, Nebraska, two grandsons, one great granddaughter, and her brother Harold of Ottawa. Ladd died on 3 November 1986 in Kenora and is interred with Jean in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. Jeanne died in 2004 in Washington, and grandson Bruce in 2013 in Vancouver.

by Judy Stockham

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