The People

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

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  • Rousseau, Alfred Ferdinand Image
  • Rousseau, Alfred Ferdinand

  • Alfred Ferdinand Rousseau was born on 24 April 1900 in Selkirk, Manitoba. His father Alfred (Fred) Rousseau was born in Alpena, Michigan (according to his WW1 attestations) while his mother Sarah Elizabeth Gunn, of Métis descent, was born in the Northwest Territories. Fred and Sarah married on 23 August 1898 in Selkirk, Manitoba. At the time of the 1901 census the couple and baby Alfred were living with Sarah’s parents Duncan and Sarah Gunn in Selkirk, with Fred listed as working as a cook. The 1906 census placed the family at Grindstone Point on Lake Winnipeg and in 1911 back in Selkirk with the Gunns. Fred was also listed in the 1911 census for Split Lake in northern Manitoba. Fred and Sarah gave birth to at least five children, Alfred, Duncan (1903), William John (1904), Selina May (1906), and Margaret (1910). Although a death record was not found, it appears that Alfred’s mother Sarah died shortly after the 1911 census, with his father Fred marrying Isabella Brown in 1913 in Norway House.

    Alfred signed his attestation papers with the 144th Battalion on 22 January 1916 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Likely as he was only 15 and to appear to be older, he gave his date of birth as 12 March 1897. His occupation was given as farmer, residence as St Pierre, Manitoba, and father Fred in Norway House as next of kin.

    As a Private with the 144th Battalion, Alfred arrived in England aboard the Olympic on 25 September 1916. That November he was admitted to the Brighton Isolation Hospital with the measles, discharged on 2 December and taken on strength with the 18th Reserve Battalion. In April of 1917 he was drafted to the 44th Battalion, joining the unit in the field on the 25th. A short time later he sustained multiple accidental wounds to the chest on 3 May while with a work party at Blue Bull Tunnel, Vimy Ridge. The next day he was admitted to the No 4 Stationary Hospital in Arques, discharged on the 14th. On 9 June he was readmitted to the hospital with the diagnosis of shell shock, so severe that his comrades expressed their concern for him. Through the summer and well into the fall Alfred was transferred through a series of hospitals including the No 10 Convalescent Depot in Ecault, the New Zealand Stationary Hospital in Wisques, the No 26 General Hospital in Étaples, and the No 6 Convalescent Depot, also in Étaples. Along the way his diagnosis was changed to neurasthenia. Discharged to base details on 15 November 1917, Alfred was struck off strength to the Canadian Labour Pool and in mid January of 1918 he was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps, No 24 Company. The Canadian Forestry Corps provided lumber for the Allied war effort by cutting and preparing timber in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe in both the First World War and the Second World War. Forestry units also cleared terrain for the construction of installations such as airfields and runway, prepared railway ties, as well as lumber for the creation of barracks, road surfaces, ammunition crates, trench construction, etc. These units were sometimes called on in the First World War to perform as infantry. (canadiansoldiers.com) Over the course of the next year he was sentenced to both Field Punishments No 1 and 2 and forfeited pay a number of times for being absent without leave and for breaking out of camp whilst under going Field Punishment. He was granted a fourteen day leave to Paris in August of 1918 and another fourteen day leave to the UK in mid March of 1919. He was retained in England on the expiration of his leave and posted to the Canadian Forestry Corps Depot in Sunningdale. Alfred embarked for Canada on the Caronia on 9 August and was discharged from service on demobilization on the 20th in Winnipeg.

    Alfred’s father Fred enlisted twice during the war, the first time with the 203rd Battalion in Norway House in early May of 1916. His occupation was given as cook and date of birth as 3 April 1872. He was discharged from service as “not likely to become efficient” on 8 June 1916 at Camp Hughes. Fred enlisted again that November in Winnipeg with the 250th Battalion, date of birth as 3 April 1873. He was transferred to the No 10 Special Services Company, No 10 Casualty Clearing Depot and discharged as medically unfit on 12 October 1917 in Winnipeg. He later returned to the Norway House area.

    On 26 February 1929, in Kenora, Ontario, Alfred (now known as Fred or Frederick) married Laura Rose Porlier. Born on 29 October 1906 in nearby Norman, Laura was the daughter of André Porlier and Fabiola Caron. In August of 1930 Alfred and Laura gave birth prematurely to twins, a boy and a girl, who died shortly after birth and then in 1931 a son Joseph Donald Frederick, prematurely, who also died. Alfred first worked as a cook in lumber camps, then as a blacksmith for the Town of Kenora, and then found employment with the Department of Highways for twenty years prior to his death. Alfred and Laura raised three children, sons Clarence and Raymond and daughter Rita. He served with the Lake Superior Regiment during WW2.

    Alfred died suddenly on 6 July 1964. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Laura, sons Clarence of Terrace Bay and Raymond of Belleville, Ontario, and daughter Rita (Rennie) Vanasse of Kenora. He was also survived by his brother William, sisters Selina (John) Hample and Margaret McDougall, all in Manitoba. It appears that he was predeceased by his brother Duncan in 1962 in Riverton, Manitoba. Alfred’s brother William later died in 1988 and sister Selina in 2000, both in Winnipeg. His wife Laura died on 31 July 1988 and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Alfred is interred in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery, his military grave marker inscribed with the forename of Frederick, rank and service as Staff Sergeant, RCASC.

    By Judy Stockham

     

    Rousseau-Alfred-2 Rousseau-Alfred-3Rousseau-Alfred-4
  • Regimental Number:
  • 830630
  • Service Record:
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Force:
  • Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Forestry Corps
  • Battalion:
  • No 2 District, Central Group
  • Place of Birth:
  • Selkirk, Manitoba
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Next of Kin:
  • Fred Rousseau, father, Norway House, Keewatin, Canada
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • St Pierre, Manitoba
  • Date of Birth:
  • April 24, 1900
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Farmer
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • January 22, 1916
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 15
  • Religion:
  • Roman Catholic
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • May 6, 1964
  • Age at Death:
  • 64
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • C-31-3
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Alfred Ferdinand Rousseau was born on 24 April 1900 in Selkirk, Manitoba. His father Alfred (Fred) Rousseau was born in Alpena, Michigan (according to his WW1 attestations) while his mother Sarah Elizabeth Gunn, of Métis descent, was born in the Northwest Territories. Fred and Sarah married on 23 August 1898 in Selkirk, Manitoba. At the time of the 1901 census the couple and baby Alfred were living with Sarah’s parents Duncan and Sarah Gunn in Selkirk, with Fred listed as working as a cook. The 1906 census placed the family at Grindstone Point on Lake Winnipeg and in 1911 back in Selkirk with the Gunns. Fred was also listed in the 1911 census for Split Lake in northern Manitoba. Fred and Sarah gave birth to at least five children, Alfred, Duncan (1903), William John (1904), Selina May (1906), and Margaret (1910). Although a death record was not found, it appears that Alfred’s mother Sarah died shortly after the 1911 census, with his father Fred marrying Isabella Brown in 1913 in Norway House.

    Alfred signed his attestation papers with the 144th Battalion on 22 January 1916 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Likely as he was only 15 and to appear to be older, he gave his date of birth as 12 March 1897. His occupation was given as farmer, residence as St Pierre, Manitoba, and father Fred in Norway House as next of kin.

    As a Private with the 144th Battalion, Alfred arrived in England aboard the Olympic on 25 September 1916. That November he was admitted to the Brighton Isolation Hospital with the measles, discharged on 2 December and taken on strength with the 18th Reserve Battalion. In April of 1917 he was drafted to the 44th Battalion, joining the unit in the field on the 25th. A short time later he sustained multiple accidental wounds to the chest on 3 May while with a work party at Blue Bull Tunnel, Vimy Ridge. The next day he was admitted to the No 4 Stationary Hospital in Arques, discharged on the 14th. On 9 June he was readmitted to the hospital with the diagnosis of shell shock, so severe that his comrades expressed their concern for him. Through the summer and well into the fall Alfred was transferred through a series of hospitals including the No 10 Convalescent Depot in Ecault, the New Zealand Stationary Hospital in Wisques, the No 26 General Hospital in Étaples, and the No 6 Convalescent Depot, also in Étaples. Along the way his diagnosis was changed to neurasthenia. Discharged to base details on 15 November 1917, Alfred was struck off strength to the Canadian Labour Pool and in mid January of 1918 he was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps, No 24 Company. The Canadian Forestry Corps provided lumber for the Allied war effort by cutting and preparing timber in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe in both the First World War and the Second World War. Forestry units also cleared terrain for the construction of installations such as airfields and runway, prepared railway ties, as well as lumber for the creation of barracks, road surfaces, ammunition crates, trench construction, etc. These units were sometimes called on in the First World War to perform as infantry. (canadiansoldiers.com) Over the course of the next year he was sentenced to both Field Punishments No 1 and 2 and forfeited pay a number of times for being absent without leave and for breaking out of camp whilst under going Field Punishment. He was granted a fourteen day leave to Paris in August of 1918 and another fourteen day leave to the UK in mid March of 1919. He was retained in England on the expiration of his leave and posted to the Canadian Forestry Corps Depot in Sunningdale. Alfred embarked for Canada on the Caronia on 9 August and was discharged from service on demobilization on the 20th in Winnipeg.

    Alfred’s father Fred enlisted twice during the war, the first time with the 203rd Battalion in Norway House in early May of 1916. His occupation was given as cook and date of birth as 3 April 1872. He was discharged from service as “not likely to become efficient” on 8 June 1916 at Camp Hughes. Fred enlisted again that November in Winnipeg with the 250th Battalion, date of birth as 3 April 1873. He was transferred to the No 10 Special Services Company, No 10 Casualty Clearing Depot and discharged as medically unfit on 12 October 1917 in Winnipeg. He later returned to the Norway House area.

    On 26 February 1929, in Kenora, Ontario, Alfred (now known as Fred or Frederick) married Laura Rose Porlier. Born on 29 October 1906 in nearby Norman, Laura was the daughter of André Porlier and Fabiola Caron. In August of 1930 Alfred and Laura gave birth prematurely to twins, a boy and a girl, who died shortly after birth and then in 1931 a son Joseph Donald Frederick, prematurely, who also died. Alfred first worked as a cook in lumber camps, then as a blacksmith for the Town of Kenora, and then found employment with the Department of Highways for twenty years prior to his death. Alfred and Laura raised three children, sons Clarence and Raymond and daughter Rita. He served with the Lake Superior Regiment during WW2.

    Alfred died suddenly on 6 July 1964. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Laura, sons Clarence of Terrace Bay and Raymond of Belleville, Ontario, and daughter Rita (Rennie) Vanasse of Kenora. He was also survived by his brother William, sisters Selina (John) Hample and Margaret McDougall, all in Manitoba. It appears that he was predeceased by his brother Duncan in 1962 in Riverton, Manitoba. Alfred’s brother William later died in 1988 and sister Selina in 2000, both in Winnipeg. His wife Laura died on 31 July 1988 and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Alfred is interred in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery, his military grave marker inscribed with the forename of Frederick, rank and service as Staff Sergeant, RCASC.

    By Judy Stockham

     

    Rousseau-Alfred-2 Rousseau-Alfred-3Rousseau-Alfred-4
  • « Return to all stories
  • Rousseau, Alfred Ferdinand Image
  • Regimental Number:
  • 830630
  • Force:
  • Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Battalion:
  • No 2 District, Central Group
  • Place of Birth:
  • Selkirk, Manitoba
  • Next of Kin:
  • Fred Rousseau, father, Norway House, Keewatin, Canada
  • Date of Birth:
  • April 24, 1900
  • Survived War:
  • Yes
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Forestry Corps
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • St Pierre, Manitoba
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Farmer
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • January 22, 1916
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 15
  • Religion:
  • Roman Catholic
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • May 6, 1964
  • Age at Death:
  • 64
  • Buried at:
  • Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
  • Plot:
  • C-31-3
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Rousseau, Alfred Ferdinand

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