Soldier Spotlight: William Devilla

Image: Winter construction of the railroad track for the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway into the Grande Prairie area, ca. 1916 (SPRA 1969.39.718c)

Bill was born in Avoca, Iowa on November 22, 1897. His family moved to Nampa in 1898. At 16, Bill moved to McLennan and worked on the ED&BC Railroad. He enlisted in the army in 1917, but was discharged just days after enlistment because of flat feet. Bill served in the navy, working on minesweepers off the east coast. In 1918 he married Winnifred Haughn in Nova Scotia and the couple returned to McLennan. Bill worked first as a fireman for the railway, then as an engineer. He also worked as a recruiting advisor and the leader of the Veteran’s Volunteer Reserve in McLennan during the Second World War. After the war, the Christians moved to Edmonton. They lived there until 1963, at which time they moved to Delta, BC. In May of 1978, they moved to Calgary and Bill died in September of that year.

Sources: Trails and Rails North, p. 150

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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