Walter Robert Craig was born on 28 May 1887 in Ottawa, Ontario. His father John McFarlane Craig was from Paisley, Scotland while his mother Elizabeth Hill was from Ireland. The couple married during the month of August in 1886 at the Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Montreal, Quebec. Settling in the Ottawa area, at the time of the 1891 census John, Elizabeth and their children were living with John’s parents, with John Jr’s occupation given as miner although he would later work as a carpenter. Children born in Ottawa were Walter, Christina McFarlane (1889), John McFarlane (Jack) (1891), Ellen Hill (1894), Henry Hill (1896), David Hill (1899), Edna Adelaide (1902), and Wilhelmina (1905). Moving to the Winnipeg, Manitoba area, children born in Manitoba were Elizabeth Hill (1908), and Thomas Alfred (1911).
Walter signed his attestation papers with the No 1 Section Skilled Railway Employees, Canadian Railway Troops on 7 January 1917 in Winnipeg. His occupation was given as trainman and his mother Elizabeth in Winnipeg as next of kin. Walter arrived in England on 15 March 1917 aboard the Aussonia. The next day the unit was redesignated as the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers and as No 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians) Royal Engineers on 7 April 1917, landing in France on the 19th.
"This unit was operating lines in the immediate rear of active operations and hauled troops, ammunition, supplies, material, ambulance trains, refugees for the battles of Messines Ridge, June 1917, and the Lys, April 1918."
(Library and Archives Canada). A description of some of the activities of the 58th Broad Gauge Operation Company was summarized in the Canadian Rail's November December 1993 edition that marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the war: "The Canadian Railway Troops on World War 1
In late July of 1918 Walter was briefly attached to the 13th Battalion, CRT until mid August. Later that month he was granted a fourteen day leave to the UK. Likely while on leave, Walter married widow Hester Elizabeth Grace Bull as registered during the 3rd quarter of 1918 in Romford, Essex. Born on 23 November 1874 in Deptford in London, Ester Elizabeth Grace Taylor Ingercent was the daughter of John Taylor Ingercent and Thirza Ashplant. At some point after the 1881 census the family surname was shortened to Taylor and Esther became Hester. During the 1st quarter of 1900 in Croyden, Surrey, Hester had married John Bull. Born in 1875 in Bradford, Yorkshire, John had previously married Naomi Rouse in 1896, with Naomi sadly passing away the next year. Hester and John gave birth to two children, Henry Francis in 1900 and Annie in 1903. The family had immigrated to Canada in 1910, arriving in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the Lake Erie on 16 April. The passenger list indicated that they were on their way to Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan to farm. Unfortunately, shortly after settling in Moose Jaw John died on 2 October, interred in the Moose Jaw City Cemetery. Hester and the children had returned to England the next year, arriving in Liverpool on the Empress of Britain on 26 May 1911.
Walter returned to his unit from his leave a day late and was sentenced to 14 days field punishment No 2 and forfeited a days pay. He was granted a second leave in January of 1919. His unit returned to England in mid April, and along with Hester and her daughter Annie, he embarked for Canada aboard the Adriatic on 28 July. Walter was discharged from service on demobilization on 11 August at Halifax, rank of Sapper.
Walter's brother Jack
was drafted under the Military Service Act and served overseas with the 5th Battalion, Canadian Engineers during the last months of the war. His brother Henry
was also drafted and after being given a leave, was later discharged from service in Winnipeg in early January of 1919. His brother David
enlisted in April of 1918 and served in England with the Canadian Railway Troops Depot. He too returned to Canada with a war bride, having married May Birkhead during the 1st quarter of 1919 in Lewisham, London.
Walter, Hester, and Annie settled in Winnipeg, with Hester’s son Henry immigrating in 1920, arriving in Halifax on the Caronia on 29 April. At the time of the 1921 census the family was living on Union Avenue in Winnipeg, with Walter’s occupation given as labourer. With Annie having married William Whalley that January, the couple was also living with Walter, Hester, and Henry. At some point Walter resumed working for the railway, listed as brakeman and trainman on various Voters lists. It appears unlikely that Walter and Hester had any children.
Hester died on 25 April 1930, with Walter later marrying widow Pearl Alma Brown on 4 October 1938 in Winnipeg. Born about 1884 in Richmond, Lennox in Ontario where her family farmed, Pearl was the daughter of Thomas Norris and Viola Thompson, her parents marrying in 1877 in Napanee. The family later moving to Melita, Manitoba, Pearl had married Lawrence Brown in 1906 in Melita. The couple gave birth to four children, Jennie Viola, Gerald, Charles, and Beverly (died in infancy). Pearl’s husband had died in 1927 in Winnipeg.
Predeceased by his wife Pearl on 7 May 1955 in Saint Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Walter died on 24 June 1960 at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. He had previously been living at the Empire Hotel. At the time of his death he was survived by sisters Christina (William) Stilwell of Shuswap Lake, British Columbia (d 1963 in Vancouver), Ellen (A) Carter of St Clair Shores, Michigan (d 1986 in Mount Clemens, Michigan), and Edna (Laurence) Toby of Victoria, BC (d 1974), and brothers Thomas of Winnipeg (d 1983 in Victoria, BC), Henry of Kenora (d 1975), and Jack of Seven Sisters Falls, Manitoba (d 1980 in Beausejour, Manitoba). He was predeceased by his sister Elizabeth in 1916, mother Elizabeth in 1925, father John in 1929, all in Winnipeg, sister Wilhelmina (Harry) Almond in 1949 in Windsor, Ontario, and brother David in 1957 in Kenora, Ontario. Walter and Hester, and Pearl and her husband Lawrence, are all interred in Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg.