According to his attestation papers dated February 22, 1916, James Tomlinson was born on June 10, 1887 in Lancashire, England. He listed his wife Annie Ethel Tomlinson of Mimico as his next of kin. He was a Builder by trade and had no previous military experience. He was 28 years and 6 months of age and was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches in height. He had grey eyes, fair hair and a fresh complexion. He had a red dot on the lid of his left eye. He was a Methodist.
According to the 1921 Toronto City directory he was a carpenter living on the west side of Dartmouth Crescent, Mimico.