The People

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

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  • Watkinson, William Reuben Image
  • Watkinson, William Reuben

  • Although he gave his date of birth as 23 July 1893 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England on his attestation papers, Reuben William Watkinson was born in 1889. His mother Lydia Ashman was born in London and married his father George Watkinson, widower, in Birmingham in 1883. George, born in Birmingham, had previously married Mary Ann Fisher in 1865 and the couple had a number of children before Mary Ann’s death in 1882. George was a glass cutter by trade and some of his children from his first marriage were involved in the jewellery business: Sarah a gold jeweller, Ada pearl polisher, George a caster.

    Lydian and George gave birth to at least five children: Lydia (1883), Gertrude (1885), Reuben William, Minnie (1895), and Ethel (1898). George died in 1907 and by the 1911 England census Lydia was listed as married to Edwin Curtis, a news agent widower with children from his first marriage.

    Although he went by the name of Reuben in England once he headed for Canada he changed it to William. As William he was found on the passenger list of the Lake Manitoba that arrived in St John, New Brunswick in April of 1908. By the 1911 Canada census he was living in Hamilton, Ontario and working as a porter in a hotel. His first attempt to serve during the war was in November of 1917. Living in Niles, Michigan, he signed his US World War I Drafter registration card, giving his date and place of birth as 11 April 1893 in St Thomas, Ontario. However he was refused due to his varicose veins. Suffering from them since childhood, he had had surgery earlier that year.

    Back in Canada William signed his attestation papers on 29 December 1917 in London, Ontario. With occupation given as cook he gave his mother Lydia Curtis in Birmingham as next of kin. His address upon enlistment was Niles, Michigan. First listed as a Private with the Western Ontario Regiment 1st Depot Battalion, by January of 1918 he was transferred to the Canadian Army Medical Corps Training Depot #1. However in March William was admitted to a hospital in London suffering from varicose veins. Spending two weeks in the hospital, he was later found medically unfit for service and was discharged in May. His records indicated two places of residence after discharge: Highland Park, Detroit Michigan to work as a cook and/or Grand Rapids, Michigan to work as a groom.

    In February of 1925 in Regina, Saskatchewan, William married Helen (Lena) Bailey. Born in Balognie, Saskatchewan, Lena Kornelson was the daughter of Frederick and Marie (Zinkhaw) Kornelson. She had married James Emerson Bailey in 1915 in Selkirk, Manitoba and the couple had given birth to a son Edwin. Emerson enlisted in London, Ontario in March of 1917, giving his wife Lena in Listowell as next of kin. Emerson went overseas with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Engineers and died of influenza in the Bramshott No 12 Canadian General Hospital in April of 1919. In 1927 his burial registration was sent to Lena Watkinson in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    By the mid 1940’s William, Lena, and Edwin were living in Kenora, Ontario where William was employed as the manager of  the Kenora Specialty Company on Matheson Street. William, more commonly known as Bill, was very involved in organizing and financing baseball, hockey, and football for children. For his efforts he was made an honorary life member of the Kenora Rotary Club. He was also participated in lawn bowling in Kenora and was a member of the Lakeside Baptist Church. He was a “well known and highly respected citizen of Kenora.”

    William died on 23 July 1971 in Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora. His wife Lena died in 1979 and they are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by Lena, his son Edwin Bailey, and four grandchildren.

    by Judy Stockham

    William’s Amateur Hockey Award: January 1959
    William’s obituary: Kenora Miner and News 26 July 1971

    Watkinson-William-4Watkinson-William-3Watkinson-William-Reuben-1

  • Regimental Number:
  • 2355946
  • Service Record:
  • Link to Service Record
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Force:
  • Army
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Army Medical Corps
  • Battalion:
  • No 1 Training Depot
  • Place of Birth:
  • Birmingham
  • Country:
  • England
  • Next of Kin:
  • Mrs. Lydia Curtis (Mother), 36 Summer Lane, Birmingham, England
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • 7th Street, Niles, Michigan, U.S.A.
  • Date of Birth:
  • April 11, 1889
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Cook
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • London, Ontario
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • December 29, 1917
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 28
  • Religion:
  • Methodist
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Canada
  • Date of Death:
  • July 23, 1971
  • Age at Death:
  • 82
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • 30E-9-3
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Although he gave his date of birth as 23 July 1893 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England on his attestation papers, Reuben William Watkinson was born in 1889. His mother Lydia Ashman was born in London and married his father George Watkinson, widower, in Birmingham in 1883. George, born in Birmingham, had previously married Mary Ann Fisher in 1865 and the couple had a number of children before Mary Ann’s death in 1882. George was a glass cutter by trade and some of his children from his first marriage were involved in the jewellery business: Sarah a gold jeweller, Ada pearl polisher, George a caster.

    Lydian and George gave birth to at least five children: Lydia (1883), Gertrude (1885), Reuben William, Minnie (1895), and Ethel (1898). George died in 1907 and by the 1911 England census Lydia was listed as married to Edwin Curtis, a news agent widower with children from his first marriage.

    Although he went by the name of Reuben in England once he headed for Canada he changed it to William. As William he was found on the passenger list of the Lake Manitoba that arrived in St John, New Brunswick in April of 1908. By the 1911 Canada census he was living in Hamilton, Ontario and working as a porter in a hotel. His first attempt to serve during the war was in November of 1917. Living in Niles, Michigan, he signed his US World War I Drafter registration card, giving his date and place of birth as 11 April 1893 in St Thomas, Ontario. However he was refused due to his varicose veins. Suffering from them since childhood, he had had surgery earlier that year.

    Back in Canada William signed his attestation papers on 29 December 1917 in London, Ontario. With occupation given as cook he gave his mother Lydia Curtis in Birmingham as next of kin. His address upon enlistment was Niles, Michigan. First listed as a Private with the Western Ontario Regiment 1st Depot Battalion, by January of 1918 he was transferred to the Canadian Army Medical Corps Training Depot #1. However in March William was admitted to a hospital in London suffering from varicose veins. Spending two weeks in the hospital, he was later found medically unfit for service and was discharged in May. His records indicated two places of residence after discharge: Highland Park, Detroit Michigan to work as a cook and/or Grand Rapids, Michigan to work as a groom.

    In February of 1925 in Regina, Saskatchewan, William married Helen (Lena) Bailey. Born in Balognie, Saskatchewan, Lena Kornelson was the daughter of Frederick and Marie (Zinkhaw) Kornelson. She had married James Emerson Bailey in 1915 in Selkirk, Manitoba and the couple had given birth to a son Edwin. Emerson enlisted in London, Ontario in March of 1917, giving his wife Lena in Listowell as next of kin. Emerson went overseas with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Engineers and died of influenza in the Bramshott No 12 Canadian General Hospital in April of 1919. In 1927 his burial registration was sent to Lena Watkinson in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    By the mid 1940’s William, Lena, and Edwin were living in Kenora, Ontario where William was employed as the manager of  the Kenora Specialty Company on Matheson Street. William, more commonly known as Bill, was very involved in organizing and financing baseball, hockey, and football for children. For his efforts he was made an honorary life member of the Kenora Rotary Club. He was also participated in lawn bowling in Kenora and was a member of the Lakeside Baptist Church. He was a “well known and highly respected citizen of Kenora.”

    William died on 23 July 1971 in Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora. His wife Lena died in 1979 and they are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by Lena, his son Edwin Bailey, and four grandchildren.

    by Judy Stockham

    William’s Amateur Hockey Award: January 1959
    William’s obituary: Kenora Miner and News 26 July 1971

    Watkinson-William-4Watkinson-William-3Watkinson-William-Reuben-1

  • « Return to all stories
  • Watkinson, William Reuben Image
  • Regimental Number:
  • 2355946
  • Force:
  • Army
  • Battalion:
  • No 1 Training Depot
  • Place of Birth:
  • Birmingham
  • Next of Kin:
  • Mrs. Lydia Curtis (Mother), 36 Summer Lane, Birmingham, England
  • Date of Birth:
  • April 11, 1889
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Army Medical Corps
  • Country:
  • England
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • 7th Street, Niles, Michigan, U.S.A.
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Cook
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • London, Ontario
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • December 29, 1917
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 28
  • Religion:
  • Methodist
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Canada
  • Date of Death:
  • July 23, 1971
  • Age at Death:
  • 82
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • 30E-9-3
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Watkinson, William Reuben

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