100 Years Ago: Tag Day, Mayor Urges Decorations for Military Carnival, New Use for Empire Day, Bar Wives Visiting England

The Intelligencer May 20, 1916 (page 2)

“Tag Day a Great Success. Pedestrians upon the streets of the city today were besieged by fair young ladies, who were offering for sale small flags, the proceeds of which were for the 155th Battalion. Donors gave cheerfully to the cause and flags were sold by the hundreds if not thousands. The cause was a worthy one, hence its popularity.

Many automobiles were called into requisition and they were in many cases tastefully decorated with flags and bunting. That a goodly sum was realized, there is not the slightest doubt.”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1916 (page 3)

“Belleville’s Big Military Carnival. To The Citizens of Belleville, The 155th Battalion, composed of our own boys from Belleville, Hastings and Prince Edward Counties are putting on a grand military carnival on Victoria Day. It is our duty to give them every encouragement and to make May 24th of this year one of the biggest days that Belleville has ever known.

Every citizen can assist in assuring success. It is necessary that all business places and homes should be decorated. Get out your flags and your bunting, and make our city as attractive and beautiful as possible for this day. Decorate! Decorate! Decorate! H.F. Ketcheson, Mayor.”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1916 (page 7)

“New Use For ‘Empire Day.’ Hon. Dr. R.A. Pyne, Minister of Education, in a circular issued to school teachers and principals throughout Ontario, advocates the devotion of Empire Day school collections this year to comforts for the soldiers. His message reads in part:

‘I believe that the glorious share which the Province of Ontario has had in the struggle for liberty and the freedom of humanity is due in some measure to the early impressions made by such exercises as these. It is not long since that a handful of Canadians, less than forty thousand in all, were the only barriers that stood between the German barbarians and the sea, and history will tell to all succeeding generations the story of how nobly they performed their task upon that dreadful day.

In some of the schools it has been the practice in the past to use contributions by the children for the purpose of flowers for decorative purposes; where this has been the practice, I would recommend that these funds, whether large or small, be devoted to supplying comforts for the soldiers at the front. The contributions, of whatever kind, may either be shipped directly to the front or may be handed over to the local Red Cross Society.’ ”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1916 (page 9)

“To Bar Wives Visiting England. London. Mainly on the grounds that their presence in England has tended to hamper the efficiency of the men, the Canadian agent-general yesterday passed a resolution calling upon the provincial governments to take prompt steps to discourage officers’ and soldiers’ wives from coming to this country until the end of the war.

There are over 3000 wives now in the United Kingdom, and this summer is being increased during the next two or three months at the rate of 1000 a week.

Immediately they arrive they communicate with their husbands, who, perhaps have only just returned from the trenches, urging them to obtain a further few days’ leave. In the vast majority of cases this is of course impossible owing to the military exigencies, but, in spite of that, they persist in demanding the intervention of the agent-general and the high commissioner, and when they find that these men are helpless in the matter, the good women take things in their own hands and write to the military authorities.

In not a few cases they have communicated with the commanding officers direct without the knowledge of the husband to whom such behavior causes some anxiety.

It is far better, said he, for wives to remain in Canada with their friends than to come here on the off chance of seeing their husbands and of spending several months among strangers.”