Tryon, Anne: Jesse William Winney: From the Adversity of War Came a New Career

Jesse William Winney: From the Adversity of War Came a New Career

by Anne Tryon

Jesse William Winney was born on September 9, 1890 in Woodbridge District, Suffolk, England to (parents Joseph Winney and Anna Mary Snowdon. His siblings were Dorrie, William, Joseph, Eva and Elizabeth. Some surnames in his genealogical line were Malster, King, Birch, Meadows, Cooper, Haywood, Neale, Smyth, and Burrows.

In March 1904 Jesse completed 5th STANDARD and obtained a LABOUR Certificate and qualified for full-time employment in England.

At the age of 23, Jesse came to Canada, arriving in Quebec City sometime during the month of April in 1913. He embarked from the ship TEUTONIC and headed west looking for farm work. This eventually led him to Wicklow, Northumberland County, Ontario. For a time he worked for Knights orchard and in their apple store.

Knight's Orchard 1927. Jesse and Margery far left

WWI inspired many men and Jesse enlisted along with 11 other men who formed the first group to leave Cobourg in February 1915. Jesse belonged to the 216th Regiment and was a gunner in the 2nd Heavy Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery. The men headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia and shipped out to England to await orders to proceed to the front.

In the last days of the Battle of Passchendaele during November of 1917 Jesse received a shrapnel wound in his right shoulder. Since the metal was not removed, infection set in many times resulting in hospitalization over an extended period in France and England. After eight months Jesse's hospital record stated that he had suffered a comminuted fracture of his humerus and scapula. Finally in September of 1918 he was invalided to Canada in hopes of recovery in Kingston, Ontario. Jesse did recuperate and in October 1920 married Margery Haines.

Jesse knew he could not go back to farming so he retrained and in May 1922 graduated from Kingston Business College with a Shorthand and Bookkeeping Certificate.

Upon returning to Wicklow, Ontario with Margery, Jesse became owner and operator of the Wicklow General Store. He used his new training while acting as secretary-treasurer of what is believed to have been the Haldimand Township School Board from 1935-1944 and as treasurer of the South Haldimand Red Cross Society from about 1940 to 1944.

In 1944 his wife Margery died. Jesse moved to Cobourg and soon after in 1945 married Margaret Ella Jane (Jenny) Stevenson. They took up residence on Chapel Street. Jesse became bookkeeper for Mr. Fowler and also for Thomas Motor Sales. As well Jesse was Treasurer of St. John's Lodge #17, A.F. & A.M., Master of the Colborne Lodge, Warden and Treasurer of St. Peter's Anglican Church and then in 1951 Jesse was Secretary-Treasurer for the Cobourg Public School Board.

Jesse as Young Soldier c1915

Jenny and Jesse Winney in Cobourg c1970

In 1956 when Burnham School was opened it was a news item in the Toronto Telegram and Jesse among others was sketched by W.B. Mac on the art staff. This sketch, as well as a photograph taken with other board members in front of the beautiful new school, appeared in that newspaper. At the time Mr Winney and Board Chair, Clare Wakelin, placed a time capsule in the corner stone of the school during the celebrations.

When Jesse and Jenny Winney both died in November of 1974 a good-sized article and Jesse's W.W.I. photograph appeared in the Cobourg Sentinel Star. It is believed to have been written by one of Jesse's 216th regiment friends, Mr. V. M. Hinman.

A man of determination, Jesse Winney was able to adapt to changes and flourish and in doing so make many contributions to his community. He was a true gentleman and from 1945-1974 Jesse and Jenny were the favourite uncle-aunt team of Mary and Anne Stevenson. (The author and her sister.)

Clare Wakelin and Jesse Winney open Burnham School c1953.