939091 Pte. Alexander Kelly Ramsay was born on September 1st, 1894, in Maybole, Ayrshire in Scotland. His father, James Ramsay, shoemaker, was from Kirkmichael, Ayr, whilst his mother, Margaret Kelly, was from Maybole where the couple had married on June 14th, 1889. Alex had two older siblings, Joanna (1890) and William (1892) and a younger sister Agnes (1897). Sadly his mother died in September of 1900 and by the 1901 Scotland Census his father had hired a housekeeper, 56 year old Mary Comrie, to live with the family. Alex was found working as a ploughman and living on the Thomas Tennant farm in the Maybole area for the 1911 Scotland Census.


An age appropriate Alex Ramsay, a labourer, was found on the passenger list of the Letitia that left Glasgow for Montreal on June 7th, 1913. Alex settled in Keewatin in north-western Ontario, where he found work at the local flour mill as a miller. He signed his attestation paper in Kenora on February 3rd, 1915, giving his father back in Maybole as next of kin and occupation as miller.


Organized in March of 1915 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel AW Hay with recruitment in Port Arthur, Kenora, Fort Frances, Fort William and Dryden, the 52nd Battalion was mobilized at Port Arthur. Along with a number of other fellows from Kenora and Keewatin, Alexander embarked from Montreal aboard the SS Missanabie with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft of the 52nd Battalion on September 4th, 1915.


Once in England Alex was taken on strength with the No 1 Company of the 12th Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe in Kent. In January of 1916 he was on command as employed with the Canadian Engineers Training Depot and later in the month transferred to the Third Divisional Signals Company and attached for duty to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles. On May 1st he joined the unit in the field.


Just a short time later, on June 2nd, at Ypres, Alex was reported as missing in action. In late June his family received their first cable reporting him missing, followed by an other one in early July, unofficially reporting him as prisoner of war at Dulmen, in Germany. By September Alex had been transferred to the prisoner of war camp at Wahn, and then on to Limburg in May of 1917, where he was to stay until the end of the war. Alex was repatriated to England in early December 1918 and embarked for Canada aboard the Minnekahda on March 19th, 1919.


After the war Alex returned to Keewatin and his job at the flour mill. Although they were both listed as living in Keewatin at the time, on September 1st, 1920, in Simcoe, Ontario, Alex married Agnes Mason Fairlie. The daughter of Hugh and Jean (née Hunter) Fairlie, Agnes was born in 1896 in Maybole. She had arrived in Canada aboard the Saturnia on August 15th, 1920, destination given as Keewatin and Alex. The witnesses to the marriage were both Hunters, perhaps relatives of Agnes' mother.


The couple was found living on Bay Street in Keewatin for the 1921 Canada Census, with Alex working as a caretaker. Later that year they gave birth to daughter Jean Hunter Ramsey. It appears that the Ramsays did not stay in Keewatin as Agnes and Jean were found on an Oceans Arrival form of September 1923, returning to their home in Hamilton from a visit to Agnes' parents in Scotland. A later border crossing record of 1951 for Jean stated that her father Alexander was living in Aldershot, Ontario. His name appeared a number of times in the Aldershot Tweedsmuir newspaper and he was treasurer as late as 1966. Alex had had two other known children, James and Rosemary.


Alex died on September 24th, 1986, in the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ontario. From the Burlington Post, October 1st, 1986:

"Alex Ramsay a nonagregarian whose interests ranged from directing choirs to visiting the disabled died last Wednesday at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital at the age of 93. A native of Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland, Mr Ramsay served in World War I and was a prisoner of war in Engers, Germany for two and a half years. While he was a prisoner of war he studied German and became fluent in the language. When he came to Canada he worked at Hamilton Post Office and retired as Supervisor of city delivery in 1959. Before he retired though he was assigned to Burlington to help get the postal station here organized. Mr Ramsay moved to Burlington in 1948 and was very active in Aldershot Presbyterian Church. During his retirement he also visited disabled residents of Carey House regularly and was still walking three miles a day up until last spring when he became ill. He also helped direct the local senior citizens choir. In 1983 the Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore honored Mr Ramsay for his efforts by naming him their Man of the Year. Mr Ramsay is survived by his wife Mary Ann Bates, daughter Mrs Jean Colburn of Gaithersburg, Maryland and son-in-law Brian Holliday of Emo, Ontario, son James and daughter-in-law Lucille of Hamilton, daughter Rosemary and son-in-law David Dickey of Grimsby as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was predeceased by wives Nessie (Agnes) Fairlie and Mary Lankin. A memorial service was held last Saturday at Aldershot Presbyterian Church where Mr Ramsay served as an Elder. Cremation followed."


In August of 1919 the town of Keewatin held a demonstration where those who had served during the war were presented with medals and badges by the mayor, with Alex's name on the list. He is commemorated for his service during the war on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, the Municipality of Keewatin for King and Country plaque, and the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour plaque, all now housed in the Keewatin Legion.


By the Kenora Great War Project - honouring all who served, remembering those who died.






This biography was contributed by Judy Stockham, of the Kenora Great War Project.