Robert James Loshaw was born on 11th May 1894 at Muskoka, Ontario.
The Muskoka District is located in Ontario, Canada made up of the townships of Georgian Bay, Muskoka Lakes, Town of Huntsville, Town of Bracebridge, Town of Gravenhurst, and Lake Of Bays. The terrain is rocky and rugged because it is part of the Canadian Shield, which is rich in its mineral deposits and large forests. The trees include black and white spruce, jack pine, tamarach, poplar, white birch and balsam. Rock in the Muskokas has been dated back as far back as 1.5 billion years. Rock near this age is thought to represent part of the initial crust of the Earth. There are over 1,600 beautiful lakes making this scenic beauty become one of the most popular tourists destinations in Ontario.
First mention of Muskoka in any records is in 1615 and the territory was occupied by Indians, mainly consisting of the Algonquin and Huron tribes. Early explorers to the region like Samuel De Champlain came to the area next followed by Missionaries. The name Muskoka is thought to come from the name of a Chippawa tribe chief named Mesqua Ukee which means “not easily turned back in the day of battle”. It was Mesqua Ukee who signed the treaties made between the Indians and Province of Canada which sold about 250,000 acres of land in the area to the Province.
To help encourage settlement to the area the Free Land Grant and Homestead Act of 1868 was created. Before this it was suggested that Muskoka be turned into a large Indian reservation. The realization of Muskoka’s timber and the immigration of settlers into southern Ontario changed officials minds.
The Free Land Grand and Homestead Act gave 200 acres of land with extra land granted for rocky sections in Muskoka to families which meet the following conditions. The applicant had to be at lease 18 years of age and wanted to use the land for settlement and cultivation. The settler had to clear 15 acres of land, build a house at lease sixteen feet by twenty feet in size, live on the property at lease 6 months of a year for a period of 5 years. If all the requirements were met he could then apply for a land patent and become the owner. This was to stop people from land speculation. The Province retained all mineral rights to the area, including pine trees and quarry stones.
The Loshaw family date back to the early settlers.
The 1911 census on Ancestry.co.uk finds the Loshaw family living on Lot 24, District 98, Muskoka, Ontario. Head of the household was Mitchell Loshaw age 46 of Dutch descent born in August 1864 a Farmer by trade. His wife was called Levinia also age 46 and their children were, William age 22 born March 1899, Lavine age 18 born September 1892, Robert age 16 born 11th May 1894 he was a Farmer by trade, Sarah age 14 born November 1896, Norah age 12 born 1899, Joeanna age 8 born 1903, Thomas age 5 born 1905, Mitchell age 8 months born 1911 and there was also shown on the census, Sarah Gohleen, Mother-in-Law age 83 born April 1828.
I noticed a Family Tree on Ancestry.co.uk and contacted the owner of the tree. The following information is from one of Robert’s descendant Kathleen.
Library and Archives of Canada, Attestation Papers for Private 3312087 Robert James Loshaw, Second depot Battalion, Ontario Regiment.
Robert was drafted into the Canadian Army on 26th August 1918 at Toronto, Ontario. He gave his Mother as next of kin and his current address as Bracebridge, Ontario His trade was Shantyman and status, single.
I was puzzled when I saw Robert’s trade so decided to do some research.
Throughout the nineteenth century the process of lumbering was inextricably tied to the seasonal weather patterns. In late summer and early fall the first men were sent into the woods to locate and build a shanty and storehouse. As the fall progressed supplies were taken into the woods. When the shanty was ready and the ground was frozen hard, the axe men were sent in to cut and square the timbers and chop the saw logs. After Christmas, when the snow was deep and the temperature at its lowest, the teamsters moved in to skid the timber and saw logs from the woods to the rivers and the streams, where they were left for the spring thaw. For the men involved, life in the bush was hard. Living conditions in the shanties were primitive and working conditions included long hours and strenuous and dangerous physical work with little rewards even in the way of pay at the end of the season. In the crowded British North American labour market, however, there were few, if any, alternatives and only during the periodic and regional labour shortages did the men have any bargaining ability.
Robert did basic training at Niagra Camp in Canada and then embarked on the S.S.Durham Castle arriving in England on 25th September 1918.
He was posted to Whitley Army Camp on 29th September 1918 and transferred to the 12th Reserve Battalion, to continue training.
As hostilities were coming to an end, Robert was transferred to Kinmel Segregation Camp in Rhyl on 9th September 1918 to await repatriation to Canada.
The conditions at Kinmel Camp at the end of the war were very bad. The winter of 1918 was particularly cold and the lack of supplies and the sheer numbers of soldiers at the camp made life very difficult. Unfortunately a lot of soldiers contracted influenza and complications of the illness as Robert did. He died at the General Hospital, Kinmel Camp on 24th October 1918, age 24 and was buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.
Robert is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.