100 Years Ago: Christmas Gifts, Successful Tea in Tyendinaga, Death of Clifford Westlake, Belgian Children’s Christmas

The Intelligencer December 13, 1916 (page 1)

“Twenty thousand letter cases are going to the Canadian wounded through the Red Cross as Christmas gifts. Eighteen thousand Christmas stockings were received from Montreal.

Extra parcels for prisoners in Germany containing plum pudding, muscatels, fruit cake and chocolate were despatched in November to insure delivery by Christmas. Returned prisoners testify that the parcels reach the men in good condition.”

The Intelligencer December 13, 1916 (page 3)

“Tea-Meeting A Great Success. Eastern Star Lodge No. 94, L.O.B.A., held a very successful 15-cent tea on Wednesday, December 6th, in Carter’s Lodge room on the 8th line of Tyendinaga. The hall was daintily decorated for the occasion with flags and other articles calculated to please the eye. The seating capacity was taxed to the utmost, many young men finding it necessary to stand throughout the lengthy programme. The proceeds of the evening amounted to $26, all of which was handed over to increase the funds of the Red Cross Society.

The programme was lengthy but thoroughly enjoyed by all present. …  Mr. Charles Sargent quite brought down the house with his song, and great rounds of hearty applause constantly greeted the ever-popular Mr. Joe Gow, who with his talented accompanist, Miss Ida Pitman, were frequently recalled. …

One of the best features of the programme, was the great part played by the children all eager to ‘do their bit’ for a good cause, prominent among them being Miss Olive Hamilton, who has a happy faculty of delighting every audience which hears her.

One of the most interesting features of the evening was the awarding of a lamp to the holder of the lucky ticket, from a number which had been sold prior to the meeting, and the sale of which realized the sum of $16.70, which was devoted to the Belgian Relief Fund. Much praise is due to the officers of the lodge, under the worthy Mistress Mrs. W. H. Alford, and especially to Mrs. W. B. Colden, who worked so hard to make the evening so great a success.”

[Note: L. O. B. A. = Ladies Order Benevolent Association]

The Intelligencer December 13, 1916 (page 3)

“How a Brave Belleville Soldier Met Last Call. How gallantly Pte. Clifford Westlake a well known boy of Belleville faced death to help save a wounded comrade in the trenches and for his King and country, is told in a letter from the officer commanding his company, received by his mother, Mrs. J. Westlake 328 Coleman St., and reads as follows:

Wednesday, Nov., 1916. My Dear Mrs. Westlake:—It is with the deepest regret that I have to write to tell you of your son’s death. I presume the sad news has been telegraphed you by now, but it is a very little tribute that I can pay to one of my boys to tell his mother how bravely and with supreme self-sacrifice your son’s life has been given.

One of our comrades lay badly wounded in our trenches; everyone was very tired, and played out after the hardships of our journey into the trenches. I had to do something for this poor wounded chap and called for volunteers to take him out—your son was near me and he and three other brave lads volunteered. Immediately with the utmost bravery, your son and one other of the four were instantaneously killed by a shell while trying to help a wounded comrade in trouble—the utmost devoted action a soldier can volunteer for.

I am an old 80th officer and was in Belleville all last winter, so your son was a member of my old family, as we feel toward all 80th men. I sympathize with you, Mrs. Westlake very much, indeed, and I can only comfort you by saying that your son died a brave and devoted soldier giving his life for a comrade and for his King and Country. Yours very truly, LT. F. L. DRAYTON. B. Co. 80th Canadian Infantry. B. E. F.”

[Private Harry Clifford Westlake died on October 27, 1916. He is commemorated on Page 180 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer December 13, 1916 (page 7)

“What about the Belgian Children’s Christmas? This is not an appeal to give the children of our Ally the same kind of a Christmas that our own little ones expect, with Santa Claus and toys and candy. They have given up hope of that till after the war.

It is simply a call for food—for enough bread and soup to stop the pangs of hunger that hundreds of them feel every day.

The cost of a moderate size turkey—of two or three boxes of chocolates—of one of the many presents we have formed the habit of giving to those who do not need them, will feed a Belgian family a whole month!

Don’t you think the money will do more good if this year you give some of it to the Belgian Relief Fund? Will it not be more pleasing to Him whose birth we celebrate?

Send your contribution weekly, monthly or in one lump sum to Local or Provincial Committees, or send cheques payable to Treasurer Belgian Relief Fund, 59 St. Peter Street, Montreal. The Greatest Relief Work in History.”