The People

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These are the stories of Kenora participants in the First World War.

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  • McMillan, James Image
  • McMillan, James

  • James McMillan was born on 14 July 1877 in Poltimore, Quebec. Poltimore was/is a village situated in a valley between the Gatineau and Lievre Rivers north of Gatineau. James’ father Archibald McMillan had been born in Lochiel, Glengarry Co, but had moved with his family to the Poltimore area to start a logging camp: wood was abundant and the rivers provided a transportation route. James’ mother Margaret McLennan had been born in Poltimore. The couple married on 14 September 1876 in nearby Ottawa, Ontario. James was their first born child, followed by Joseph (1879), Alice (1881), Ruglass (1883), and Mary Ethel (1889-1891). As shown in the 1906 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, the family had moved west to farm in the Fork River area in the RM of Mossey River in Manitoba.

    Around 1903, James McMillan left the family farm and moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. He worked for a number of years with the Rat Portage Lumber Company as camp and drive foreman and then started working for the Keewatin Lumber Company as Logging Superintendent on 1 August 1913. Like his birth place, Rat Portage, situated in the Canadian Shield on Lake of the Woods, had an abundant supply of wood and the waterways to go with it to make it an ideal location for mills.

    Although his obituary states that he enlisted with the Canadian Mounted Rifles in Brandon, in fact James signed his attestation papers on 21 September 1915 in Kenora and began his military career with the 79th Battalion. The battalion was based in Brandon, Manitoba, and recruiting had begun during the summer of 1915. With the 79th Battalion, James trained at Camp Sewell located near Brandon. While there James spent 13 days in December in the station hospital with chicken pox followed by another 35 days from mid March to mid April with erysipelmas, a serious skin infection.

    James embarked from Halifax aboard the SS Lapland on 24 April 1916. Passing through Kenora by train on their way east, a crowd gathered in the wee small hours of the morning of 22 April to wish them well. Once overseas, James was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, taken on strength in the field 7 June 1916. Also raised in Brandon, the battalion had left Montreal for overseas on 12 June 1915 and arrived in France 22 September 1915. The 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles were involved in many major battles: Mount Sorrel, Somme in 1916, Fleurs-Courcelette, Ancre Heights, Arras 1917, 1918, Vimy 1917, Hill 70, Ypres 1917, Passchendaele, Amiens, Scarpe 1918, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Cambrai 1918.

    In late May of 1917 James was commanded to the 1st Army Rest Camp for just over two weeks. In late August he was granted ten days leave to the UK and shortly after his return he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge. In early March of 1918 James was granted a fourteen day leave to Paris. Although the circumstances are not known, Private James McMillan was awarded the Military Medal on 11 September 1918. Returning to England in February of 1919, James embarked for Canada aboard the Baltic on the 12th of March.

    After returning to Kenora James married Angeline Brown and adopted a daughter. He continued to be involved in the logging industry, eventually becoming general logging superintendent of the Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company. After a short illness, James’ wife Angeline McMillan died on 26 June 1934; James later remarried. While attending a work related conference in Port Arthur, Ontario, James died of a heart attack on 22 April 1942. He is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

    James McMillan has a very unique commemoration of his life. Across the road from McLeod Park in Kenora sits in dry dock a tugboat that has been restored and is open for both tourists and locals to visit to learn a bit of the history of logging and the use of tugboats in the area. The name of the tugboat is the James McMillan.

    by Judy Stockham

    newspaper clippings: Kenora Miner and News
    Canada, Military Honours and Awards Citation card: Library and Archives Canada
    Veteran Death card: Library and Archives Canada

    research note: year of birth given as 1878 on attestation paper

    KMN 22 September 1915

    KMN 22 September 1915

    KMN 8 December 1915

    KMN 8 December 1915

    KMN19 April 1916

    KMN19 April 1916

    KMN 22 April 1916

    KMN 22 April 1916

    Canada Military Honours and Awards Citation card

    Canada Military Honours and Awards Citation card

    KMN 9 August 1919

    KMN 9 August 1919

    Veteran Death card

    Veteran Death card

    KMN 24 April 1942

    KMN 24 April 1942

    Lake of the Woods Cemetery

    Lake of the Woods Cemetery

  • Regimental Number:
  • 151124
  • Service Record:
  • Link to Service Record
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Force:
  • Army
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Infantry
  • Battalion:
  • 1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles
  • Place of Birth:
  • Poltimore, Quebec
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Next of Kin:
  • Archie McMillan, father, Kindersley, Saskatchewan
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Date of Birth:
  • July 14, 1877
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Logging Superintendent
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Kenora, Ontario
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • September 21, 1915
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 37
  • Religion:
  • Presbyterian
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • April 22, 1942
  • Age at Death:
  • 63
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • 44E-21-4
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • James McMillan was born on 14 July 1877 in Poltimore, Quebec. Poltimore was/is a village situated in a valley between the Gatineau and Lievre Rivers north of Gatineau. James’ father Archibald McMillan had been born in Lochiel, Glengarry Co, but had moved with his family to the Poltimore area to start a logging camp: wood was abundant and the rivers provided a transportation route. James’ mother Margaret McLennan had been born in Poltimore. The couple married on 14 September 1876 in nearby Ottawa, Ontario. James was their first born child, followed by Joseph (1879), Alice (1881), Ruglass (1883), and Mary Ethel (1889-1891). As shown in the 1906 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, the family had moved west to farm in the Fork River area in the RM of Mossey River in Manitoba.

    Around 1903, James McMillan left the family farm and moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario. He worked for a number of years with the Rat Portage Lumber Company as camp and drive foreman and then started working for the Keewatin Lumber Company as Logging Superintendent on 1 August 1913. Like his birth place, Rat Portage, situated in the Canadian Shield on Lake of the Woods, had an abundant supply of wood and the waterways to go with it to make it an ideal location for mills.

    Although his obituary states that he enlisted with the Canadian Mounted Rifles in Brandon, in fact James signed his attestation papers on 21 September 1915 in Kenora and began his military career with the 79th Battalion. The battalion was based in Brandon, Manitoba, and recruiting had begun during the summer of 1915. With the 79th Battalion, James trained at Camp Sewell located near Brandon. While there James spent 13 days in December in the station hospital with chicken pox followed by another 35 days from mid March to mid April with erysipelmas, a serious skin infection.

    James embarked from Halifax aboard the SS Lapland on 24 April 1916. Passing through Kenora by train on their way east, a crowd gathered in the wee small hours of the morning of 22 April to wish them well. Once overseas, James was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, taken on strength in the field 7 June 1916. Also raised in Brandon, the battalion had left Montreal for overseas on 12 June 1915 and arrived in France 22 September 1915. The 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles were involved in many major battles: Mount Sorrel, Somme in 1916, Fleurs-Courcelette, Ancre Heights, Arras 1917, 1918, Vimy 1917, Hill 70, Ypres 1917, Passchendaele, Amiens, Scarpe 1918, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Cambrai 1918.

    In late May of 1917 James was commanded to the 1st Army Rest Camp for just over two weeks. In late August he was granted ten days leave to the UK and shortly after his return he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge. In early March of 1918 James was granted a fourteen day leave to Paris. Although the circumstances are not known, Private James McMillan was awarded the Military Medal on 11 September 1918. Returning to England in February of 1919, James embarked for Canada aboard the Baltic on the 12th of March.

    After returning to Kenora James married Angeline Brown and adopted a daughter. He continued to be involved in the logging industry, eventually becoming general logging superintendent of the Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company. After a short illness, James’ wife Angeline McMillan died on 26 June 1934; James later remarried. While attending a work related conference in Port Arthur, Ontario, James died of a heart attack on 22 April 1942. He is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

    James McMillan has a very unique commemoration of his life. Across the road from McLeod Park in Kenora sits in dry dock a tugboat that has been restored and is open for both tourists and locals to visit to learn a bit of the history of logging and the use of tugboats in the area. The name of the tugboat is the James McMillan.

    by Judy Stockham

    newspaper clippings: Kenora Miner and News
    Canada, Military Honours and Awards Citation card: Library and Archives Canada
    Veteran Death card: Library and Archives Canada

    research note: year of birth given as 1878 on attestation paper

    KMN 22 September 1915

    KMN 22 September 1915

    KMN 8 December 1915

    KMN 8 December 1915

    KMN19 April 1916

    KMN19 April 1916

    KMN 22 April 1916

    KMN 22 April 1916

    Canada Military Honours and Awards Citation card

    Canada Military Honours and Awards Citation card

    KMN 9 August 1919

    KMN 9 August 1919

    Veteran Death card

    Veteran Death card

    KMN 24 April 1942

    KMN 24 April 1942

    Lake of the Woods Cemetery

    Lake of the Woods Cemetery

  • « Return to all stories
  • McMillan, James Image
  • Regimental Number:
  • 151124
  • Force:
  • Army
  • Battalion:
  • 1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles
  • Place of Birth:
  • Poltimore, Quebec
  • Next of Kin:
  • Archie McMillan, father, Kindersley, Saskatchewan
  • Date of Birth:
  • July 14, 1877
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Infantry
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Logging Superintendent
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Kenora, Ontario
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • September 21, 1915
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 37
  • Religion:
  • Presbyterian
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • April 22, 1942
  • Age at Death:
  • 63
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • 44E-21-4
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • McMillan, James

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