Survived war. Son “Chief John Russell Westell” obituary: “Predeceased by parents Oran Westell (WW1 veteran)…”
Friends to Private Neil John MacKinnon (service no. 294462 24th Battalion CEF) and mentioned in following letter:
Army Post Office London, England Jan. 28, 1917
Dear Aunt Belle,
I received your very welcome letter dated Jan 4th. I am well and hope this will find you all well. I have not seen Neil yet but am looking for him as I do not know where he is yet.
That family picture of yours would be good. We are having fine weather now as the ground is froze up but the wind is cold. We have no snow yet. You can run across the field again to see Dorothy now.
I heard that Stuart Mcpher-son was taking a N.C.O. course but he is not as he is in the cook house as miss orderly dishing out our meals. I am glad to hear that mother is getting better. I was taking a bo mbing course last week and I’m through it all but throwing a live bomb and will likely have a machine gun course soon. I was at church this morning and heard a splendid sermon and am going to hear the same man tonight.
A few of the Kincar-dine boys that came over here and have been at the front were here last week to see some of the boys. They were Jim Anderson, Oran Westell, Wm. Stout and Bob LaRose. Stout has come to camp in this camp.
I got my photo taken last Saturday on post cards. As they are not finished yet I will send you one in the next letter. Most of the battalion is in quarantine yet but expect to be out by the time this reaches you.
Yesterday was the Kaiser’s 58th birthday. Yours truly,
D Co. 160th Bruce Bn. Cecil (Scott) 652187
“Oran was born 17 May 1891 in Clandeboye, Middlesex, Ontario to Omar and Susan Westell. He was the eldest of 4 children and known as a laughing, helpful, good natured type of fellow. His father Omar was a strict disciplinarian, his mother softer. Oran left home in his mid teens and worked on great lakes schooners including the ‘ Lyman M. Davies’, ‘The Burt Barnes’ and the ‘ Onward’. In a very fierce storm in November 9, 1913, many ships and men were lost – however, Oran’s captain, on recognizing the oncoming storm, managed to find shelter near French River, near Manitoulin Island, and was on one of the only surviving ships on the lakes at the time.
At the outbreak of WW1, he enlisted and went overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary forces. He survived a Chlorine Gas attack and while recuperating in England met his wife-to-be, Jane Russell, while rowing in Heaton Park.
When Oran and his new bride arrived back in Kincardine, they first lived with Oran’s parents and Oran went to work for the Watson Reed Furniture Company. He became the fourth serving lighthouse keeper at Kincardine Lighthouse in 1929 and the family moved into the lighthouse where they remained through to 1955. His duties included taking care of the harbour traffic as Wharfinger, Storm Signaller and Harbour Master. As this position paid little, but provided a home for his family, Oran also worked at the Post Office, sorting the outgoing mail. Oran was also a volunteer Fire Fighter in the town, and became Fire Chief. His hobbies included fishing and messing about in his converted lifeboat.
He and Jen had three children: John (Jack) who served in WWII with the Navy, Lorena (Toots) who married Mac Jarrell, and Arlene who married Ray Stewart.
Oran was made a life member of the Royal Canadian Legion and is buried in Kincardine Cemetary.”