Regimental Number: M55471 & SM55471
Arthur, born on April 5, 1921 in Vancouver, was the only child of Ross and Hilda (Aikman) McKinnon. Ross was originally from New Brunswick but moved to Vancouver where he met Hilda. While there, he found employment as a teamster digging basements. After reading about the possibilities for land ownership by means of homestead applications in the Peace District, Ross decided to move his family to Grande Prairie. He filed an application on S ½ 30-73-2-W6 on March 28, 1928 in an area of Bezanson known as Fitzsimmons and arranged for his family to join him. In an effort to clear off dead grass, Ross started a grass fire that got out of control and burnt all their possessions. However, by the end of summer, Ross had built a log home and cleared 10 acres of land on each quarter. In the spring of 1929, Ross and Hilda went to work for Jack McKenzie in Teepee Creek and that is where Arthur started school with Mrs. Mackey as the teacher. Arthur stayed with the Bennet family and walked to school with the Erno children. After Christmas, the family moved back to the homestead. At one point, Arthur attended the Boy’s Central School in Victoria for 18 months.
Once Arthur had completed his education, he walked to Grande Prairie to find work; however, as there was not any work to be found, he walked and rode a freight car to Chisholm where he found his first paying job. He was employed in a mill and worked twelve-hour days, six days a week. That only lasted for three weeks at which time Arthur decided to enlist in the Army. In 1940, Ross traded the family farm at Fitzsimmons for a Model A Ford and drove to Vancouver where he and Hilda made their home.
Arthur enlisted with the Royal Canadian Army on July 18, 1940 in Edmonton. He was transferred to Calgary for basic training where he was attached to the RCASC. In February of 1941, he was transferred to Camp Borden in Ontario and attached to the 2nd Armoured Brigade Coy. In August 1941, Arthur successfully completed courses to become a Qualified Driver I.C. “Class III”. The following November, Arthur embarked for the United Kingdom. He was transferred to Italy in November 1943 with the Central Mediterranean Forces where he remained until March of 1945 when he was transferred to France. Arthur arrived back in Canada in September 1945 and was discharged on November 6, 1945 at Vancouver. Arthur re-enlisted in the Canadian Army (Regimental # SM55471 Interim Force) on July 8, 1946 and listed his trade as a “wood caulker”. He was qualified as a Coach Painter in August 1946 and was discharged on September 30, 1946 when he was taken on strength by the RCASC (Active Force) on October 1, 1946 and was eventually discharged on October 23, 1947.
Once discharged, Arthur returned to Vancouver where his parents were living. In 1947, Arthur married Iona Secord who was from Dauphin, Manitoba. They lived in Vancouver until 1956 at which time they decided to move to Gibbons, Alberta where they raised their family of six children; Bill, Michael, Rebecca, Rachel, Peter and Kirsti. In their retirement, Arthur and Iona moved to Dauphin, Manitoba.
Arthur passed away on April 1, 2014 followed by Iona on July 11, 2017. Both were interred at the Grandview Memorial Gardens, Grandview, Manitoba.
Contributed by Wanda Zenner
Sources: Smoky River to Grande Prairie
Wagon Trails Grown Over