The People

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

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  • Tompkins, Nicholas Image
  • Tompkins, Nicholas

  • Nicholas Tompkins was born on 5 September 1868 in Margaree, Inverness on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. He was the first born son of farmers John Nicholas Tompkins and Judith Coardy who had married 8 October 1867 in Margaree. Both of his parents were born in Nova Scotia to Irish immigrants. Nick had four younger siblings, James, John, Sarah, and Vincent. His mother died around 1879 and his father later married Bridget Laffin and at least three more children were added to the family, Joseph, Michael, and Mary Agnes. By the 1901 Canada census Nick was working as a coal miner in the mines in the area.

    By the 1911 Canada census Nick had moved to northwestern Ontario and was working as a lumberman in one of the lumber camps in the Kenora/Keewatin/Lake of the Woods area. On 19 April 1916 he signed his attestation papers in Keewatin where he had been living, occupation given as cook. Likely to appear younger he gave his date of birth as 4 September 1876. With black hair and blue eyes, Nick was 47 years old. Organized in December of 1915 with recruitment throughout the Rainy River District, the 141st Bull Moose Battalion was mobilized in Fort Frances. Along with a number of men from Kenora and Keewatin, Nick boarded a train for the battalion headquarters in Port Arthur on 1 August 1916 for training before going overseas. A large crowd saw the men off, with a band and a number of Keewatin citizens also attending. Once in Port Arthur, Nick’s preexisting varicose veins played havoc with his training and he was discharged as medically unfit for further service on December 6th.

    Nick’s half brother Joseph John Tompkins enlisted in Calgary on 3 December 1915 and went overseas with the 89th Battalion, embarking from Halifax aboard the Olympic on 2 June 1916. Details of his service are unknown.

    Nick returned to the Kenora area and was found working as a cook on a houseboat near Minaki for the 1921 census. By the 1935 Voters List he was cooking at the Dalmore Hotel and then at the Commercial Hotel for the 1940 list, both in Kenora. Nick died on 13 September 1941 and is interred in the Roman Catholic Section of the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. According to his obituary he was familiarly known to hundreds of acquaintances throughout the district, having been employed as a cook in lumber camps for a number of years. He was well liked by all who knew him and considered a pioneer resident of the Kenora district. Funeral services were held for Nick at the Notre Dame Catholic Church.

    Although he did not serve overseas, Nick is commemorated for his service in Canada on the Municipality of Keewatin for King and Country plaque and on a Keewatin Honour Roll List, both housed in the Keewatin Legion.

    by Judy Stockham

    newspaper clippings: Kenora Miner and News
    photo of Dalmore Hotel: Lake of the Woods Museum Archives

    KMN 29 April 1916

    KMN 29 April 1916

    KMN 12 July 1916

    KMN 12 July 1916

    KMN 2 August 1916

    KMN 2 August 1916

    Dalmore Hotel

    Dalmore Hotel

    KMN 13 September 1941

    KMN 13 September 1941

    For King and Country

    For King and Country

  • Regimental Number:
  • 820653
  • Service Record:
  • Link to Service Record
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Force:
  • Army
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Infantry
  • Battalion:
  • 141st Battalion
  • Place of Birth:
  • Margaree, Inverness, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Next of Kin:
  • John Tompkins, father, Margaree, Nova Scotia
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Keewatin, Ontario
  • Date of Birth:
  • September 5, 1868
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Cook
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Keewatin, Ontario
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • April 19, 1916
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 47
  • Religion:
  • Roman Catholic
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Canada
  • Date of Death:
  • September 13, 1941
  • Age at Death:
  • 73
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Nicholas Tompkins was born on 5 September 1868 in Margaree, Inverness on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. He was the first born son of farmers John Nicholas Tompkins and Judith Coardy who had married 8 October 1867 in Margaree. Both of his parents were born in Nova Scotia to Irish immigrants. Nick had four younger siblings, James, John, Sarah, and Vincent. His mother died around 1879 and his father later married Bridget Laffin and at least three more children were added to the family, Joseph, Michael, and Mary Agnes. By the 1901 Canada census Nick was working as a coal miner in the mines in the area.

    By the 1911 Canada census Nick had moved to northwestern Ontario and was working as a lumberman in one of the lumber camps in the Kenora/Keewatin/Lake of the Woods area. On 19 April 1916 he signed his attestation papers in Keewatin where he had been living, occupation given as cook. Likely to appear younger he gave his date of birth as 4 September 1876. With black hair and blue eyes, Nick was 47 years old. Organized in December of 1915 with recruitment throughout the Rainy River District, the 141st Bull Moose Battalion was mobilized in Fort Frances. Along with a number of men from Kenora and Keewatin, Nick boarded a train for the battalion headquarters in Port Arthur on 1 August 1916 for training before going overseas. A large crowd saw the men off, with a band and a number of Keewatin citizens also attending. Once in Port Arthur, Nick’s preexisting varicose veins played havoc with his training and he was discharged as medically unfit for further service on December 6th.

    Nick’s half brother Joseph John Tompkins enlisted in Calgary on 3 December 1915 and went overseas with the 89th Battalion, embarking from Halifax aboard the Olympic on 2 June 1916. Details of his service are unknown.

    Nick returned to the Kenora area and was found working as a cook on a houseboat near Minaki for the 1921 census. By the 1935 Voters List he was cooking at the Dalmore Hotel and then at the Commercial Hotel for the 1940 list, both in Kenora. Nick died on 13 September 1941 and is interred in the Roman Catholic Section of the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. According to his obituary he was familiarly known to hundreds of acquaintances throughout the district, having been employed as a cook in lumber camps for a number of years. He was well liked by all who knew him and considered a pioneer resident of the Kenora district. Funeral services were held for Nick at the Notre Dame Catholic Church.

    Although he did not serve overseas, Nick is commemorated for his service in Canada on the Municipality of Keewatin for King and Country plaque and on a Keewatin Honour Roll List, both housed in the Keewatin Legion.

    by Judy Stockham

    newspaper clippings: Kenora Miner and News
    photo of Dalmore Hotel: Lake of the Woods Museum Archives

    KMN 29 April 1916

    KMN 29 April 1916

    KMN 12 July 1916

    KMN 12 July 1916

    KMN 2 August 1916

    KMN 2 August 1916

    Dalmore Hotel

    Dalmore Hotel

    KMN 13 September 1941

    KMN 13 September 1941

    For King and Country

    For King and Country

  • « Return to all stories
  • Tompkins, Nicholas Image
  • Regimental Number:
  • 820653
  • Force:
  • Army
  • Battalion:
  • 141st Battalion
  • Place of Birth:
  • Margaree, Inverness, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
  • Next of Kin:
  • John Tompkins, father, Margaree, Nova Scotia
  • Date of Birth:
  • September 5, 1868
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Infantry
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Keewatin, Ontario
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Cook
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Keewatin, Ontario
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • April 19, 1916
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 47
  • Religion:
  • Roman Catholic
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Canada
  • Date of Death:
  • September 13, 1941
  • Age at Death:
  • 73
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Tompkins, Nicholas

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