Memorable Manitobans: Charles Foulsham Laine (1888-1945)

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Charles Foulsham Laine
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Educator, cleric.

Born at Newcastle upon Tyne (or Gateshead), Durham County, England on 21 February 1888, son of William Henry Laine and Phoebe Emily Smith (c1858-?), he worked at Heworth, Durham, and became a teacher before immigrating to Canada in 1912. He headed for the western prairies with a stated destination of Balcarres, Saskatchewan, though it remains uncertain if he completed the journey. By 1913, he enrolled as a Presbyterian theological student at Manitoba College and resided in Winnipeg at 298 Victor Street (c1915) and 180 Kennedy Street (1916). With the First World War raging in Europe, he left his studies to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

He enlisted for military service in February 1916 and went overseas as part of the No. 1 Field Ambulance Depot in April that year. After a bout with tonsillitis (April-June 1916) upon arrival in England, he completed training at the Canadian Army Medical Training School of the Canadian Army Medical Corps and remained stationed in England for the war’s duration owing in part to pre-existing medical conditions, including vision impairment and neurasthenia, which limited him to lighter duties. He was posted to the Shorncliffe Military Hospital (1917) and No. 9 Canadian General Hospital (September 1917 - June 1919). His highest rank attained was Acting Corporal (February 1818). His medical demobilization was issued in September 1919 and he was shipped back across the North Atlantic via Quebec City for discharge.

He did not return to Canada alone, having sought military permission in March (and receiving it in April) to marry. On 10 April 1919, he wed Amelia Magdaline Church (1890-1953) at the Gnoll Road Congregational Church in Neath, Glamorganshire, Wales. They later had a daughter, Leona May Laine (1923-2011, wife of Percy Hesketh). Upon return to Manitoba, he taught at Solway School (1919-1921) and Melrose West School (1921-1922), and was Principal of Kane School (1922-1924), Brunkild School (1924-1925), Whitemouth School (1925-1928), and St. Vital School (1928-1930). His wife taught at the first three school districts too.

Despite not having completed theological studies, nor having been ordained, he applied to the Board of Nations Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the USA (Synod of North Dakota) to work as a cleric. He departed Fort Garry and served in a ministerial supply circuit for North Dakota congregations at Buffalo, Ayr, and Tower City for about four months from October to December 1930. Upon satisfactory examination by the Fargo Presbytery in January 1931, he was given a probational licence to preach and Leadership Training courses slated by a committee of the denomination to see him through to full ordination. On 1 April 1931, his status was re-affirmed for a full year, and he served as Minister of the Presbyterian Church at Buffalo and was well-received in his duties. His employ came to a premature end in August 1932 when the Presbyterian committee received his resignation on account of personal reasons.

Since returning to North America following the First World War, he had been apart from his wife for a total of 35 months, including a 15-month period from August 1929 to November 1930 following the death of his wife’s brother in England. Matters came to a head in August 1931 when she filed for divorce with the Court of King’s Bench in Winnipeg. From September to October 1931, he was employed with the Fargo Rental Service, and remained in Fargo for much of the divorce proceedings. The case cleared the courts and the divorce was passed via Decree Nici on 12 May 1932, with the Decree Absolute following on 5 November 1932. His wife gained full custody of their daughter. He subsequently moved to Wisconsin (1933), though he later returned to Manitoba, working briefly as Minister of the Morden Presbyterian Church (1937). Afterward, he went to Kenora, Ontario and served as Minister of the Kenora Presbyterian Church (1937-?).

He later travelled to Alberta, where he married to Myrtle Mary Elizabeth Reid (1903-1984) at Medicine Hat in 1940 and had a second daughter, Mary Leona Laine (1942-1986, wife of Richard Roettger). He worked for the Canadian Oil Company (1944-1945) and resided at Calgary until he died in hospital on 7 April 1945, with burial at Queen’s Park Cemetery at Calgary.


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

1921 & 1926 Canada censuses, Library and Archives Canada.

Vital Statistics Index - Deaths, Provincial Archives of Alberta.

“Results of Christmas exams. at Agricultural College,” Manitoba Free Press, 1 January 1916, page 4.

“Honor Roll of Manitoba College,” The Manitoban, 1 March 1916, page 20.

Winnipeg divorce files (ATG 0009A), #112/31 - A. M. Laine vs. C. F. Laine, GR0171, Archives of Manitoba.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Henderson Directories Limited, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

Charles Foulsham Laine - biographical sketch by Becky Johnson, Kenora Great War Project.

Obituary, Calgary Herald, 9 April 1945, page 13.

Queens Park Cemetery and Mausoleum burial transcriptions, FindAGrave.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 16 October 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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