Pte Joseph Labreche – 139th Northumberland Overseas Battalion

Joseph Lebreche

Bio: Joseph Labreche
(139th Overseas Battalion)
Lives of the FWW

The recent passing of my uncle has led to the discovery of a 1920’s photograph album that once belonged to my grandmother, Jean Paulin. Much to my surprise it contained this wonderful photo of Joseph Labreche, the husband of my great aunt Elizabeth Paulin. The Paulin’s were Acadians from New Brunswick who by the late 19th century had settled in and around Ottawa, as had the Labreche family who were originally from Quebec.

Joseph Labreche joined the 139th Northumberland Overseas Battalion on March 6, 1916 during a recruiting drive through eastern Ontario in early 1916. Joseph was born on February 28, 1876 in Clarence Creek, Ontario and turned 40 years old exactly one week before he enlisted. He stood at 5′ 9″ and so perhaps his height compensated for his age. My father distinctly remembers the family referring to him as “Big Joe”.

“Big Joe” was assigned service number 814830 and trained with the 139th in Cobourg, Barriefield Camp and eventually Valcartier. The nominal roll reveals that on September 27th the 139th sailed aboard the S.S. Southland and arrived in Liverpool on October 6th. The 139th never served as a unit overseas as they were immediately absorbed into the 36th Battalion who, in early 1917, were subsequently absorbed into the 3rd Reserve Battalion.

The signature on the photograph indicates Joseph was in France in 1918 although I don’t know which unit he was serving in at that time (the photo shows him wearing a General Service cap badge). His complete service record is not yet online but it will be one of the first I look up when all 640,000 are digitized: an announcement from Library and Archives concerning this initiative is imminent! Joseph survived the war and died in Earlton, Ontario in 1956.

14 replies

  1. Fort intéressant. Sauf erreur, Joseph était le frère de mon grand-père, Théophile Labrèche. Je me souviens très bien de sa femme (qu’on appelait affectueusement “matante Jos”), qui venait en visite chez mes grands-parents une ou deux fois par année quand j’étais petite. Elle était la première à envoyer ses cartes de Noël. Je continue la tradition!

    Lyne Labrèche

    • Bien que je n’ai pas étudié Théophile Labrèche moi, je sais qu’il est répertorié comme le frère de Joseph dans un autre arbre généalogique sur Ancestry. Merci beaucoup pour le partage de vos commentaires et de vos souvenirs de tante Jos!

      Tous les meilleurs,

    • Bonjour a tous. Je suis une des petits enfants de Joseph Labreche et Eliza Paulin. Je me souviens des histoires qu’elle parlait de “mon oncle Théophile”. Ma mere, qui a 5’4” referrais a mon grand père comme “gros Joe” aussi. Lol. C’est tres interessant de faire des nouvelles de sa famille.

      A la prochaine, Jackie

    • Hello,

      It’s very nice to meet you. It would be wonderful to include a photo of his medals and perhaps his discharge papers on my blog. If you are interested in this please let me know. I can be contacted by email using the “Contact” link in the upper right corner. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!


      • C’est le grand oncle de ma conjointe, Suzanne Henrie, fille de Lucille Labrèche et Yvan Henrie (Rockland, Ont). Marcel Ouellet, Québec.

  2. Joseph Labrèche était le fils de Moïse Labrèche, qui était originaire de St-Eustache, dans le comté des Deux-Montagnes, au Québec. Moïse a épousé Mathilde Maisonneuve à Clarence Creek, en Ontario, le 22 novembre 1875. Ils se sont installés à Clarence Creek, en Ontario, dans le rang appelé Grand-Ligne ou chemin Baseline.

    Joseph Labrèche était mon grand-oncle et le frère de mon grand-père, Théophile Labrèche. Il a eu au moins quatre enfants de sa femme Élisabeth Paulin, dont un garçon et trois filles.

    Quand il est revenu de guerre, il s’est établi à Earlton, en Ontario, où il est mort en 1956. Il est enterré dans le cimetière Notre-Dame, dans l’est d’Ottawa, au coin du boulevard St-Laurent et du chemin de Montréal.

    La famille de Théophile conserve plusieurs souvenirs de Joseph.

  3. Steve: merci de ton courriel. Je tente d’ajouter à ton site une nouvelle photo de Joseph Labrèche, que j’ai retrouvée dans mes archives.


  4. Steve: ton site est difficile. Y a-t-il un moyen facile d’ajouter la photo? Si oui, dis-moi comment.



    • Hi Maurice, this WordPress blog isn’t set up to allow visitors to post photographs however if you use the “contact” feature to send me a message I can get in touch by email and you can then forward me the photo which I can post. Thanks, Steve.

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