On a quiet Sunday, it's sometimes tough to put ourselves into the shoes of those who served. The centennial of the end of the Great War -- after all -- means that it was a hundred years ago, and the battlefields of Europe are -- well -- across an ocean.
However, we may still have a sense of the echoes of those times. Through researchers at the Great War Project, we're able to find ties that aren't quite so remote or distant.
Some of you might recall, or have heard of Arthur Elders, who used to guide and run a planer mill in Sioux Narrows. You might also recall Walter Loutett -- who once operated a tourist camp in the area.
Researcher Judy Stockham notes Loutett's daughter, Jean, took over the resort along with her husband William (Bill) Franchuk. Perhaps some of these names and faces aren't quite so far away in our memories or our experience. After all, Loutett's grandson, also named Bill Franchuk, still lives and works in Kenora.
Some may even remember meeting or talking with them, giving us a sense of their character and personality. What we may not know, though, are the details of their service.
According to the researchers, Pte. Arthur Elders served with infantry. He was among the 400,000 who served. He was also among the 150,000 who were injured.
Born in Kenora, Elders was the third of seven children -- and one of three brothers -- who lived in Lakeside on Fourth Avenue South. At 15, he worked as a messenger for a hotel. At 20, he enlisted with a regiment based in Port Arthur.
The volunteers paraded to the railway station, where there are photos of live bands that played, as the men were sent them off on a train to Valcartier, before boarding a troop ship for Liverpool. After some more training, Elders was considered ready for trench warfare.
At the Battle of the Somme, 24,000 Canadians were injured, and Elders was chosen to be among the replacements. His regiment was moved to the front lines for Vimy Ridge.
Historians say Canada was born on the battlefields of Europe at Vimy. Soldiers were allowed to fight as their own unit for the first time.
However, they paid a heavy price for that privilige. More than 10,000 men were killed or wounded in the battle.
Elders certainly did his part. He was struck by shrapnel from a rifle grenade, during the build up for the battle. A year later, the infantry near Arras, the enemy used gas shells and explosives to try and dislodge Canadian infantry, but it didn't work.
The Canadians fought back with rifle and machine gun fire to hold their fire. Still, Elders was severely wounded in the face, including a broken jaw. In fact, they thought he was dead, until somebody came to pick up his body, and he moaned.
Sapper Walter Loutett was also living on Fourth Avenue in Lakeside in Kenora, when he enlisted. As a railroader, he had special skills.
So, for most of the war, he helped move ammunition and supplies. While on leave in England, he met his wife, Nell, who would later come to Canada as a war bride.
However, Walter didn't escape the carnage unscathed. He was shot in the head at the end of October of 1918, just days before the final armistice.
A week before peace was reached, on November 4, he was on a hospital ship for home. If you can imagine the start they had in life -- a husband wounded in the head from fighting and a war bride new to Canada -- they still had a generous heart.
Along with their daughter Jean, they also looked after foster children. Both Arthur and Walter are being remembered today, along with their service.
At the Lake of the Wood Cemetery, their final resting place will be marked by volunteers from the Royal Canadian Legion. At the going down of the sun, bells across the country will ring in their memory. We still remember them.
For more information: