David John Powless signature

On this day in 1918 David John Powless died of pneumonia at 913 Dundas Street, Toronto. He had been discharged four weeks earlier from the army due to being over age (he was a few weeks shy of his fiftieth birthday). He had served overseas for 22 months.

Initially the Dominion Pension Board refused to pay his widow, Rose, a pension, as Powless had already been discharged when he died. The Toronto Star took up her case, claiming that the widow and her children were surviving on $8 a week, the earnings of her daughter.

Rose Powless and children

Rose Powless and children, from the Toronto Star, January 31st, 1919

This photograph from the newspaper shows Rose with Douglas, Florence, Edwin, Mayford and Alfred.

On February 20th, 1919 the Toronto Star reported that:

The attending physician gave his certificate that Pte. Powless would undoubtedly have recovered had it not been for the fact that service overseas had undermined his constitution. But owing to the fact that death occurred after discharge, and there was no disability on record, no pension was granted to the widow on her application. The board at Ottawa wrote that the regulations did not permit it.

Just before Christmas the G.W.V.A. [Great War Veterans’ Association] found Mrs. Powless in a destitute condition, the earnings of her 15-year-old daughter being her sole income. They gave what relief they could, and other societies joined with them. After an application had again been refused at Ottawa, the case was taken up by Central Branch G.W.V.A., and was reinvestigated by the Ontario office of the board.

The decision not to grant her a pension was changed in her favour when the case was reconsidered under public pressure. She was granted a full pension of $936 per year.

Between 1918 and 1920, Rose Powless moved to Michigan with Thomas John Collick and her four youngest children.  David John Powless’s five children from his first marriage with Louisa Maracle all stayed in Canada. Rose had two more children with Thomas Collick and died in Otsego, Michigan in April 1967.

David John Powless was buried in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto.

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