Robert Colin Wood (1898-1918)

I am going to write about my maternal 2nd cousin 3x removed, Robert Colin Wood (1898-1918).

Robert Colin Wood was born 8 Dec 1898 in a place called Jackfish, Ontario, some 244km east of Thunder Bay. The place is now a ghost town but was once a port of commercial fishing and to receive coal for steam trains travelling on the CPR.

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Canadian Pacific Railway Station Building at JackFish
7 Sep 1900

His parents were William Samuel Wood (1868–1901) and Martha Ritchie (1871–1906) and he was an only child.

Robert’s parents were married 18 Nov 1891 in Ross, Renfrew North, Ontario in the place where his mother lived and grew up.

In the 1901 census, the Wood family lived in the CPR community of Schreiber, Ontario, which was about 40km west of where Robert was born.

1901 Census

1901 Census

The census data was collected on May 28th, however, only five months later, William would be dead.

At the age of 33, William, who worked on the railroad as an engineer, was killed in an accident on 6 Oct 1901 in Port Arthur, Ontario. It appeared he survived the accident itself but succumbed to exhaustion following train injury, fracture spine, chest, and head.

I have yet to find any mention of an accident around this date.

The next time I find Robert he is living with his paternal aunt and uncle, Martha Wood (1874-) and Richard Groggin (1871-) in the 1911 census in York. The pair had married in 1894, a few years after William and Martha, in Port Arthur. In this record, Richard is documented as working as a conductor and his wife, a housekeeper.

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1911 Census

Martha and Richard can also be found living in Schreiber, Ontario in the 1901 census. They had staying in their home at the time, Martha’s mother Melissa (1845-1924), and her two sisters, Christina (1880-) and Clara (1887-) who were working as domestics.

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1911 Census

The reason why Robert was now living with his aunt and uncle in 1911 was for the fact that his mother, Martha, had died of heart failure on 31 Jan 1906. His mother’s death came only three months after she’d remarried Alex McFarlone in Port Arthur.

The last census record that Robert is documented in is the 1916 census of the prairies where he’s living with his aunt and uncle in Rocanville, Saskatchewan. In addition to his adoptive parents, also living in this household is Martha (1903-) his adopted sister and well as his grandmother Melissa. It seems Richard changed occupations and was now a farmer.

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1916 Census

On 20 Mar 1917, Robert ventured to Regina where he signed his attestation papers and joined the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. His regimental number was: 1069577. Robert was a private of the 249th Battalion who was transferred to the 15th Canadian Res. Battalion on 4 Mar 1918 in Bramshott and then to the 28th Battalion (Saskatchewan Regiment) on 10 May 1918.

Robert entered the battlefield on 22 May 1918 in France. About a month and a half later, on 12 Aug 1918, Robert received a gunshot wound to the head which he later died of on the same day.

Robert is one of 332 Canadian WWI soldiers buried in the St Sever Cemetery Extension. His grave is number 5379, inscribed on the stone it reads, “Gone but not forgotten.”

Below is a transcription from the 28th Canadian Infantry Battalion war dairies. It is my assumption that Robert was one of the 20 killed in the trenches in front of Caix.

CAIX. Aug 12th 1918.

The Battalion moved into Reserve Position on the Blue Line (AMIENS Defence Line) with Brigade Headquarters at CAIX. Battalion now in trench system in front of CAIX. Estimated that Battalion captured 80 Machine Guns in the attack.

Total Casualties…..
3 Officers Killed.
3 Officers Wounded.
20 O.R. Killed.
3 O.R. Missing.
100 O.R. Wounded.

Battalion resting up from operation, reorganizing and refitting. Weather very hot. Situation quiet. Officer Commanding proceeded to O’s C. Conference at Brigade Headquarters in the afternoon.

Reinforcements 3 O.R.
To Hospital 4 O.R.
From Hospital 2 O.R.
Leave Captain A.F. Simpson and 4 O.R.
On Command 4 O.R.
5 O.R. previously reported Wounded now reported Killed 9.8.18.