The People

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

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  • Swanson, Carl Johan Image
  • Swanson, Carl Johan

  • Private Carl Johan Swanson was married and the father of nine children when he enlisted in 1916 at age 46. He served in England and France with the Canadian Forestry Corps, returning home to Canada in May 1919.

    Carl (Karl) was the son of Sven Olsson and Kristina Jönasdotter of Torsås, Kalmar lan (Kalmar county), Sweden. His parents were married in 1866 and he was born in Torsås on 12 August 1869. His name in Sweden was Karl Johan Svensson. He had two brothers, Per Olof and August, and two sisters, Hilda Maria and Hanna Lydia. There were other children who died as infants.

    Carl served in the Swedish navy for two years and like his father he was a tailor by trade. He married Frida Maria Andersson on 28 April 1893 in Torsås and four sons and a daughter were born in Sweden (Herbert, Carl, Gustave, Edwin and Bertha). In 1902 Carl immigrated to Canada, settling in the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. Frida followed a few years later with their five children. Three more sons and two more daughters were born in Kenora (Fred, Arthur, Harry, Verna and Irene). In 1909, when their seven year old son Edwin died, they were living on Fourth Avenue South in Lakeside.

    The war started in August 1914 and Carl enlisted in Winnipeg in February 1916, joining the 197th Battalion. The 197th, known as the Vikings of Canada, had just been organized in Winnipeg in January and it was being recruited among men of Scandinavian origin. Carl was 46 years old at the time but when he attested he shaved a couple of years off his age. His medical exam described him as 5’9″ tall, 160 lb. with blue eyes and black hair and he was found fit for overseas service. While he was training in Manitoba he was transferred to the 230th Battalion, a forestry unit that had its headquarters in Brockville, Ontario. Carl was sent to Brockville in a draft of about 160 men in early February 1917. After a short time there they left for the east coast and embarked from Halifax on the SS Ausonia on 3 March. In England the recruits were all absorbed into the Canadian Forestry Corps, which was based in Sunningdale on the outskirts of London.

    A month later Carl was attached to a new unit, No. 30 Company CFC, and he arrived in France with them on 21 April. No. 30 Company was in Forestry Corps District No. 1, based southwest of Paris in the town of Alençon. Carl served with his unit in that general area for two years. Forestry work included cutting timber, running sawmills, preparing railway ties and helping to clear terrain and build airfields and aerodromes. Other work listed in the war diaries included “clearing sites, ditching, draining, trimming and felling trees, hauling gravel, levelling, making culverts and drains, earthing, grading, ploughing, scraping, filling depressions, uprooting hedges, re-sodding, cutting pickets, stripping turf.

    No. 30 Company returned to England in January 1919 but Carl remained in France and was transferred to No. 1 District Headquarters, serving there for another two months. At the end of March he had 14 days leave in the UK and when his leave ended he was kept in England and attached to the CFC Depot. He embarked for Canada on 14 May, arriving in Halifax ten days later and getting discharged on demobilization in Winnipeg on 30 May, two months before his 50th birthday.

    An article in the Kenora Miner and News on 4 June 1919 said that Carl had just returned home from service. When the 1921 census was taken he and his wife were living on Sixth Avenue South in Lakeside and six children were still at home, the youngest five years old. Carl had returned to his work as a merchant tailor and he became an active member of Bethesda Lutheran Church, serving as deacon and trustee. The 1940 voters list showed him living at 514 Sixth Avenue South and still employed as a tailor. His son Sergeant Harry Swanson served overseas in the Second World War with the Westminster Regiment (Motor Division). He was killed in action in Italy in September 1944, at age 32.

    Carl passed away in Kenora on 28 October 1950, at age 81, and his wife Frida died in 1960. They are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

    By Becky Johnson

    Swanson-Karl-90 Swanson-Karl-91 Swanson-Karl-92 Swanson-Karl-93 Swanson-Karl-94 Swanson-Karl-95 Swanson-Karl-96

  • Regimental Number:
  • 913040
  • Service Record:
  • Link to Service Record
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Force:
  • Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Forestry Corps
  • Battalion:
  • No. 30 Company
  • Place of Birth:
  • Torsås, Kalmar
  • Country:
  • Sweden
  • Next of Kin:
  • Frida Maria Swanson (wife), Kenora, Ontario
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Kenora, Ontario
  • Date of Birth:
  • August 12, 1869
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Tailor
  • Marital Status:
  • Married
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • February 24, 1916
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 46
  • Religion:
  • Lutheran
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • October 28, 1950
  • Age at Death:
  • 81
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • Chapel Grounds Block East, 7E-15-3
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Private Carl Johan Swanson was married and the father of nine children when he enlisted in 1916 at age 46. He served in England and France with the Canadian Forestry Corps, returning home to Canada in May 1919.

    Carl (Karl) was the son of Sven Olsson and Kristina Jönasdotter of Torsås, Kalmar lan (Kalmar county), Sweden. His parents were married in 1866 and he was born in Torsås on 12 August 1869. His name in Sweden was Karl Johan Svensson. He had two brothers, Per Olof and August, and two sisters, Hilda Maria and Hanna Lydia. There were other children who died as infants.

    Carl served in the Swedish navy for two years and like his father he was a tailor by trade. He married Frida Maria Andersson on 28 April 1893 in Torsås and four sons and a daughter were born in Sweden (Herbert, Carl, Gustave, Edwin and Bertha). In 1902 Carl immigrated to Canada, settling in the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. Frida followed a few years later with their five children. Three more sons and two more daughters were born in Kenora (Fred, Arthur, Harry, Verna and Irene). In 1909, when their seven year old son Edwin died, they were living on Fourth Avenue South in Lakeside.

    The war started in August 1914 and Carl enlisted in Winnipeg in February 1916, joining the 197th Battalion. The 197th, known as the Vikings of Canada, had just been organized in Winnipeg in January and it was being recruited among men of Scandinavian origin. Carl was 46 years old at the time but when he attested he shaved a couple of years off his age. His medical exam described him as 5’9″ tall, 160 lb. with blue eyes and black hair and he was found fit for overseas service. While he was training in Manitoba he was transferred to the 230th Battalion, a forestry unit that had its headquarters in Brockville, Ontario. Carl was sent to Brockville in a draft of about 160 men in early February 1917. After a short time there they left for the east coast and embarked from Halifax on the SS Ausonia on 3 March. In England the recruits were all absorbed into the Canadian Forestry Corps, which was based in Sunningdale on the outskirts of London.

    A month later Carl was attached to a new unit, No. 30 Company CFC, and he arrived in France with them on 21 April. No. 30 Company was in Forestry Corps District No. 1, based southwest of Paris in the town of Alençon. Carl served with his unit in that general area for two years. Forestry work included cutting timber, running sawmills, preparing railway ties and helping to clear terrain and build airfields and aerodromes. Other work listed in the war diaries included “clearing sites, ditching, draining, trimming and felling trees, hauling gravel, levelling, making culverts and drains, earthing, grading, ploughing, scraping, filling depressions, uprooting hedges, re-sodding, cutting pickets, stripping turf.

    No. 30 Company returned to England in January 1919 but Carl remained in France and was transferred to No. 1 District Headquarters, serving there for another two months. At the end of March he had 14 days leave in the UK and when his leave ended he was kept in England and attached to the CFC Depot. He embarked for Canada on 14 May, arriving in Halifax ten days later and getting discharged on demobilization in Winnipeg on 30 May, two months before his 50th birthday.

    An article in the Kenora Miner and News on 4 June 1919 said that Carl had just returned home from service. When the 1921 census was taken he and his wife were living on Sixth Avenue South in Lakeside and six children were still at home, the youngest five years old. Carl had returned to his work as a merchant tailor and he became an active member of Bethesda Lutheran Church, serving as deacon and trustee. The 1940 voters list showed him living at 514 Sixth Avenue South and still employed as a tailor. His son Sergeant Harry Swanson served overseas in the Second World War with the Westminster Regiment (Motor Division). He was killed in action in Italy in September 1944, at age 32.

    Carl passed away in Kenora on 28 October 1950, at age 81, and his wife Frida died in 1960. They are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

    By Becky Johnson

    Swanson-Karl-90 Swanson-Karl-91 Swanson-Karl-92 Swanson-Karl-93 Swanson-Karl-94 Swanson-Karl-95 Swanson-Karl-96

  • « Return to all stories
  • Swanson, Carl Johan Image
  • Regimental Number:
  • 913040
  • Force:
  • Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Battalion:
  • No. 30 Company
  • Place of Birth:
  • Torsås, Kalmar
  • Next of Kin:
  • Frida Maria Swanson (wife), Kenora, Ontario
  • Date of Birth:
  • August 12, 1869
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Forestry Corps
  • Country:
  • Sweden
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Kenora, Ontario
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Tailor
  • Marital Status:
  • Married
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • February 24, 1916
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 46
  • Religion:
  • Lutheran
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • October 28, 1950
  • Age at Death:
  • 81
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • Chapel Grounds Block East, 7E-15-3
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Swanson, Carl Johan

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