100 Years Ago: Empire Day Recognized in Belleville, and at Queen Alexandra School

The Intelligencer May 25, 1916 (page 1)

“Empire Loyally Recognized in Belleville. Small groups on the street corners Wednesday morning indicated a limited attendance at Belleville’s Empire Day celebration, but as the sky cleared and the sun beamed down rays of warmth, the people began to gather, and ere the hour of ten had arrived our streets and sidewalks presented a holiday scene.

Flags, large and small decorated business houses and private residences; the well-regulated juvenile had his personal supply of fireworks; the 155th Battalion headed by the band and bugle corps, made Front street and return in a most creditable parade. Then the crowd, like a rolling wave, headed for Victoria Park, where the morning sports were scheduled, in the form of water races, foot races, bicycle contests, all of which drew forth more or less enthusiasm.

The day began fairly well, and the big aggregation of humanity looked forward to a series of strenuous contests at the Driving Park in the afternoon. But there conditions were against a complete carrying out of the programme of sports, owing to the soggy ground occasioned by continuous rains of the past week.

The officials of the 155th Battalion, however, put forth their best efforts to please the audience of about 3,000, and generally speaking satisfaction prevailed, all things considered.

Special reference is due the efforts of the 155th in bringing a good team down from Toronto, resulting in a snappy fast baseball game at the Park.

Pretty little Victoria Park, with its glorious boundary of glistening waters and distant shores of Prince Edward County, was an ideal spot to begin the day’s sports, the scenery, unsurpassed for beauty, entranced by the harmonious strains of the popular 155th band, under the leadership of Bandmaster Hinchey, emanating from the pavilion in the center of the lawn. …

Previous to the commencement of the sports, Mr. E.G. Porter, K.C., M.P., was called upon to give the opening address of welcome. …  The speaker said he had been requested on behalf of the commanding officer and other officers of the 155th Battalion to say a few words of welcome, which gave him much pleasure to do so.

He was pleased to see so many present, and the occasion justified such. The 155th Battalion, C.E.F., would possibly in the near future go overseas to take their parts with thousands of other Canadians in the great struggle that is taking place in Europe. They would assist the allies in protecting our welfare and take part in a quelling and great war.

Many had a personal interest in the 155th Battalion and other Battalions which had left to do their bit. All were intensely interested in the success of the allies who are endeavoring to put down this terrible war, and bring it to a successful issue.

To all present he (the speaker) would again extend a cordial welcome, and let joy abound. (Applause)”

The Intelligencer May 25, 1916 (page 2)

“Enjoyable Evening at Queen Alexandra School. A very enjoyable as well as profitable hour was spent at Queen Alexandra School on Tuesday afternoon, May 23rd.

It seemed fitting that Empire Day, 1916, should be especially recognized as so many of our men and boys are bravely fighting to preserve and extend the liberties and freedom of our great Empire. The principal, Mr. Mott, was therefore very fortunate in securing Mr. Sneyd, manager of the Merchant’s Bank, to address the pupils on the subject.

After a chorus by the school, Mr. Sneyd thoughtfully reviewed some important possessions and vital gateways of the Empire, then naturally turned to the subject of the great war. During his discussion he proudly referred to the heroic part the Canadians were taking in the great struggle. He explained the necessity of always being prepared for duty, whether in matters of every day life or in defence of native country.

At the close, Mr. Bullock, on behalf of the school thanked Mr. Sneyd for his very instructive talk, and the singing of the National Anthem by the school, ended a very pleasing Empire Day.”