100 Years Ago: Gathering at the Armouries, Letter of Thanks from Celestina Geen, Belgian Relief Fund

The Intelligencer August 5, 1916 (pages 1, 2)

“Second Anniversary of Declaration of War. In response to a proclamation issued by Mayor Ketcheson a goodly number of the citizens of Belleville assembled at the Armouries last evening, despite the fact that the weather was exceedingly warm. The ladies present were by far more numerous than the gentlemen.

The meeting was called in response to a request from the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, asking the citizens of Ontario to commemorate the anniversary of the declaration of war and to publicly discuss the great problems that face this Province as part of our Empire and to re-affirm our belief in the righteousness of the cause for which we are fighting, and our inflexible determination to continue the struggle until victory has been achieved.

His Worship occupied the Chair and associated with him on the platform were Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Mr. E.G. Porter, K.C., M.P., Mr. W.B. Northrup, K.C., M.P., Revs. Dr. Blagrave, E.C. Currie, S.C. Moore, Dr. Scott, and Canon Beamish; Mr. John Elliott and Sergt A. Gibson, the latter of whom received a hearty welcome upon being requested to go upon the platform.

In a few well chosen remarks the Mayor stated the object of the meeting as outlined above. The proceedings were then formally opened by the singing of the National Anthem, followed by an appropriate prayer. …  During the evening patriotic hymns were sung. …

Four addresses were given and the speakers certainly confined their remarks to the occasion, and each spoke eloquently. Rev. Dr. Blagrave, rector of Christ Church, was the first speaker and in his opening remarks referred to the fact that two years of this war had passed and that it found the Canadian people with as much determination to assist in prosecuting it to a successful issue as a year ago or when the struggle commenced. …

Mr. E.G. Porter, K.C., and M.P. for West Hastings, was called upon and spoke as follows: To anyone who knows in even a general way, as I think I know, the make-up of the average Belleville citizen it would not require a public meeting or a public resolution to convince him of the loyalty and patriotism of our people. …  And now the question is asked, shall we, the people of Belleville, discontinue our efforts? Shall we withhold our help or shall we go on increasing our activity? …  I know how the people of Belleville will answer the question.

Rev. S.C. Moore, pastor of the Tabernacle Methodist Church, being called upon, said he spoke as the representative of the Ministerial Association of the city. …  After two years of struggle we are gathered to commemorate the declaration of war and to consider what we can do more. …  We need to confess our national sins and plead to God to make us a clean nation and a righteous people.

Mr. W.B. Northrup, K.C., and M.P. for East Hastings, was the last speaker. …  When this war is over it is up to the nation and the church as a body, to see that patriotism alone is not preached, but other great principles involved in a nation’s welfare are promulgated.

Mr. Northrup said there was one absurdity of our educational system, and that was that history was not taught as it should be taught, and any Government that does not in the future make this a speciality should be denounced from platform and pulpit. Canadian history should be more thoroughly taught and understood. Let us have a true teaching of history in our schools.

In his closing remarks the speaker said it was up to us all to see that we do all we can intelligently and wisely for ourselves and our beloved country as a whole.

This completed the speech-making, and Mayor Ketcheson on behalf of those present, thanked the various speakers for their able and inspiring addresses.

After the singing of the National Anthem the Rev. Dr. Scott pronounced the benediction and the audience dispersed.”

The Intelligencer August 5, 1916 (page 3)

Celestina Geen

“Belleville Cheese Board Red Cross Society reports that official receipts and acknowledgments have been received from the following …  A letter from Nursing Sister C. Geen, in whose care two cases were sent to No. 2 Stationary Hospital:

Dear Mrs. Lazier:—How can I tell you how much the contents of those two boxes are being appreciated, both by the fortunate boys who are getting the good things and by me, to whom you good home people have given the pleasure of distributing them.

When I received a note from the O.C. of No. 2, Canadian Stationary Hospital at Outreau, a few miles from here, saying two boxes had arrived there for me, I had not the faintest idea who they were from or what they contained, so you can imagine what a delightful surprise I had when I opened them.

You could not have had these articles arrive at a more opportune moment, for they came when we were in the midst of the greatest rush this unit has ever had, and when almost double the amount of beds that we are supposed to have, had to be ready to receive patients, and of course that means we were not over supplied with sheets, and in the emergency huts we had to put the patients between blankets. Putting patients between blankets may not sound very serious to you, but when I explain that certain small animals which many of the poor men bring in on their clothes, can be more easily discovered on sheets, you will understand.

I hope you will convey to all the different ladies who helped to furnish the boxes with its golden store, my most sincere thanks for everything.

I traded my pillow for one of those in the box. It really gave me so much pleasure to think I was sleeping on feathers from home.

The ‘Old Chum’ and cigarettes are very acceptable and I give those to Canadians only for they like home brands.

The khaki shirts have been much in demand and I always enjoy new sheets, towels and pillow slips.

I might add that these are the first two large boxes that have been sent to me directly and I have often rather envied girls getting them from home, so you know how happy these made me.

Since the rush has been on we sisters take turns in giving from 8 to 12 p.m. a sort of supper to the boys who have to be up to help with the convoys—in fact some of them have worked night and day and through it all are so bright and jolly and so kind to the patients, though the poor boys look ready to drop themselves.

Again thanking you all for all the pleasure you have given many, I am, Sincerely yours, Celestina Geen.”