World War I

This Google map shows the burial or memorial places for the Deseronto men who died during the First World War.

This memorial project has revealed a lot to us about the Deseronto people who were directly involved in the First World War. For many of those who lived through this conflict, their lives would be forever altered by the loss of loved ones, friends, and health.

Our thanks to all those who have contributed additional information and family stories about these people, who would otherwise just be names in records. It has been an honour to learn about them all and to reflect on their experiences.

Harold MacDonald Pineo signature
Lieutenant Harold Macdonald Pineo died of influenza on this day in 1918 in the Royal Air Force hospital in Deseronto. He had transferred to the Royal Air Force in May 1918 from the army, and had only been with 42nd Wing since September 19th, 1918.

Pineo was buried in Virden Cemetery, Manitoba.

On this day in 1918 Sergeant John Ray Holland died at Camp Rathbun Hospital in Deseronto of pneumonia caused by influenza. Holland was a carpenter who had joined the Royal Flying Corps in England on July 6th, 1916. In March 1917 he was transferred to the new training camps in Canada where he was promoted corporal in August 1917 and sergeant in April 1918 when the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force. In some records his name is given as Roy, rather than Ray. He had previously served for four years in the 3rd West Riding Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.

Holland was born in Bakewell, Derbyshire in 1890. In the 1911 census he was listed as an apprentice joiner, living in Sheffield, West Yorkshire. He married Phyllis Rhodes in Sheffield on September 23rd, 1914 and the couple had two children, born in February 1915 and April 1916. Holland’s parents were Richard and Annie Holland. They were living at 56 Cherry Street in Sheffield when he died.

John Ray Holland was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.

John Ray Holland gravestone

Con Barnhart's signature

On this day in 2018, Con Barnhart died in No. 12 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England of meningitis.

Con was buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Bramshott.

He is also remembered on the Deseronto war memorial.

Deseronto memorial

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.

Benjamin Woundy signature
Benjamin Lawrence Woundy died of pneumonia caused by Spanish flu on this day in 1918 at Camp Rathbun hospital in Deseronto. He had joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot cadet in Toronto on April 8th, 1918 with the service number 171339. He was five feet seven inches tall and was a bank clerk from Grand Bank, Newfoundland. The Royal Air Force casualty card for Woundy notes that he was admitted to hospital on November 21st.

Immigration records pick up Woundy arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia from Newfoundland in November 1916, giving his occupation as ‘student’. In July 1917 he left Halifax for Havana, Cuba, by which time he was a bank teller. He arrived in Ontario on April 5th, 1918 via New York state.

Benjamin’s parents, James and Elizabeth Woundy, buried him in the Grand Bank United Church Cemetery.

Thomas Peter Wims signature

Thomas Peter Wims died in Glasgow, Scotland, on this day in 1918 of influenza in the 3rd Scottish General Hospital (Stobhill Hospital).

He was buried in the Glasgow Western Necropolis.

Thomas Peter Wims' grave

Photograph of Thomas Peter WIms’ grave, courtesy of Ancestry user mystrwolf.


At a meeting held in the Council Chamber of Deseronto Town Hall at 8 o’clock in the evening on this day in 1918, the Council made a resolution in relation to the Kaiser. It was reported in the Napanee Beaver ten days later:

Deseronto Town Council demands trial of ex-Kaiser

Deseronto Demands Trial of Ex-Kaiser
A resolution to bring the ex-kaiser and others of his ilk to justice was unanimously passed by a standing vote of the municipal council of the corporation of the Town of Deseronto. It reads as follows:
“We, the members of the municipal council of the corporation of the Town of Deseronto, on behalf of ourselves and the citizens of Deseronto, hereby request the prime minister of Canada, Sir Robert Borden, who is to represent Canada at the meeting of the war council, to demand of that war council, on behalf of all those belonging to British and allied countries, whether military or civilians, who may have suffered through the brutalities inflicted during the course of the late war, and which brutalities were undoubtedly instigated by the kaiser and his followers, that all such who are living be brought to the bar of justice in the same manner as any other notorious criminals, to be tried and condemned by such court as the allied war council shall create or designate; and, further, that all those of the German people or their allies who may have been in any way responsible for such atrocities as have scandalized the world during the war be similarly dealt with, so that none may escape.
“And that a copy of this resolution be forwarded immediately to the premier, Sir Robert Borden.”

In the council minute book after the record of this resolution, is an additional motion:

Motion to print 1,000 copies of Kaiser resolution.JPG

Moved by Coun. Hunt, seconded by Coun. Fox, that the clerk be instructed to have 1000 copies of the above resolution printed for distribution. Carried.

Ebenezer Arthur Rixen

Ebenezer Arthur Rixen, Mayor of Deseronto 1917-1918 [2014.13 (1)]

The council members present at this meeting were the Mayor, Ebenezer Arthur Rixen; the Reeve, Thomas J. Naylor; and Councillors Thomas Fox, Milton Hunt, and William H. Richardson.

The last death associated with an aircraft at the Deseronto pilot training camps took place on the last day of the First World War. The victim was Joseph McDermid, described on the death registration as a worker for the Imperial Munitions Board. It is not clear whether he was “killed by aeroplane” on the ground or whether he was in the air at the time of the accident.

The registration does not give an age for McDermid, or a place of birth, so it is difficult to find out more about this man, especially as he was not employed by the Royal Air Force. It is even hard to know exactly where he died, as the registration states ‘Camp Rathbun’, but the death was registered in the ‘Mohawk Reserve Tyendinaga’ district of Hastings, which would normally suggest that the death took place at Camp Mohawk.

Joseph McDermid death registrationPlease comment if you have more information about Joseph or his family, or where he was buried.

Stephen Kennedy Burgess signature

Stephen Kennedy Burgess died of pneumonia, caused by Spanish flu, on this day in 1918. He was a fireman who had joined the Royal Air Force in Toronto on July 24th, 1918 as a labourer. He was five feet six and three quarter inches tall and his regimental number was 270201.

Burgess was born in Owen Sound on September 7th, 1896, the son of Stephen Burgess and Margaret Jane (née Whiteside). He was living in Collingwood when he enlisted. He died at the hospital at Camp Rathbun in Deseronto after 96 days of service.

Stephen was buried in the Collingwood Presbyterian Cemetery.

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