100 Years Ago: Graham’s Evaporation Plant Destroyed by Fire, 254th Minstrel Show Coming to Belleville, Poster for Canadian Defence Force, Y.M.C.A. Supports Enlistment, Letters of Condolence to Percy Kennedy’s Mother

The Intelligencer April 11, 1917 (pages 1, 2)

“The city of Belleville was today visited by the most disastrous fire which has occurred in its history entailing a loss roughly estimated at $300,000. The large evaporating plant of Mr. R. J. Graham of this city situation in rear of his fine block on the east side of Front street, and extending from the latter street to Pinnacle street is a mass of ruins, nothing remaining but the bare walls and smoking embers.

Not only did the evaporator fall a prey to the devouring element, but a tin shop, cold storage building and the building on Front street termed the chemical warehouse were also burned. …  Mr. Graham will by reason of the conflagration, be a heavy loser. There were in the destroyed premises upwards of $200,000 worth of dried vegetables in tins and cases ready for shipment to India, being an order from the British Government. It totalled some 20 cars. …

At night recently there had not been any person about the premises, and there were no fires. During the day time, a number of hands were employed in preparing goods for shipment. In the tin shop, there were a large number of manufactured tins of various sizes for the dried goods. These were destroyed, also a large quantity of resin and machinery. …

During the day, hundreds and even thousands of citizens were upon the scene, and there were many expressions of regret at the destruction of the plant, which has been the means of livelihoods for so many families in the city.

This is the fourth evaporator that Mr. Graham has had destroyed by fire, since the war commenced and all were apparently incendiary in their origin. Many from the surrounding country learning of the fire, drove to the city to view the ruins.”

The Intelligencer April 11, 1917 (page 2)

“254th Minstrel Show to Be the Event of the Season. The Minstrels are with us once again. Belleville has seen many Amateur Minstrel Shows, and Belleville has enjoyed many Amateur Minstrel shows, but the 254th Minstrel Show of 1917 will be a pleasant surprise to the music lovers, and the fun lovers of this city. In the first place it can hardly be called an Amateur Minstrels, because of the host of professional talent being used this year. However, we may, with safety, call it Local Talent.

The show is putting in a week of one night stands before opening in Belleville, therefore, the people here will see the most finished Local Talent Minstrel show that has ever been put upon the boards.

The opening performance ‘on the road’ took place last night in Stirling and the audience which packed the Opera House roared its enthusiasm throughout the two hours of constant enjoyment. …  Geo. Dulmage and Ab. Wheeler, the inimitable pair of comedians are still ‘on the job’ with a batch of new comedy that will ‘knock ’em off their seats,’ …  Tommy Redway’s juggling act was a knockout, and Stirling voted last night that Tommy was worth the price of admission alone. Five other big acts fill out the bill which winds up with the uproarious screaming comedy after peace ‘Wanted: Musicians.’

Be at Griffin’s Opera House on Monday evening April 16th and see for yourself, but get your seats early, as it is a case of first come, first served, and the plan opens at Doyle’s Drug Store tomorrow, Thursday, at 9 o’clock.”

The Intelligencer April 11, 1917 (page 6)

“Release a Man to Fight in France by Enlisting in the Canadian Defence Force. The men of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces held in Canada as an adequate safeguard, are needed NOW in France for what Sir Robert Borden says is ‘the most critical period of the war.’

To release them Canada calls for men, physically fit, who for any reason cannot go Overseas, but are willing to serve at home.

Enlistment in the Canadian Defence Force is for One Year—or for the period of the war and six months after if required. Clothing, equipment and rations provided as in the C. E. F. Pay the same as that for Militia on active service, with Separation Allowance for married men.”

The Intelligencer April 11, 1917 (page 7)

“While reports from all over Canada show an increasingly heavy drain upon the regular Y. M. C. A. membership and the staffs, through enlistment, the National Council have felt that an official announcement of their hearty approval and co-operation in this movement should be made. …

the situation demands that the Y. M. C. A. ‘which is highly patriotic in thought and purpose, should take action in regard to the selection of his employed force to enlistment and National Service.’ They strongly recommend therefore to the Board of Directors of Canadian Associations ‘that every facility be given to the unmarried and eligible men on their staffs, who feel that they should enlist and that each Board confer with its employed men with a view to discovering the most effective way in which all may best serve the Empire in this time of need.’”

The Intelligencer April 11, 1917 (page 7)

“From H. P. Cluff. France, Feb. 1, 1917. My Dear Mrs. Kennedy:—I wish you to accept my sincerest sympathy in your recent bereavement. Your husband, Percy, was in the company of which I held the command, for two days only, before he was admitted to hospital. In that short time I marked him as a quiet, well mannered young chap, and further, I personally know that his loss is keenly felt by all the boys with whom he came over and was well known.

He came here to do his bit, as becomes the manhood of our country in this crisis. Of that fact you may well be proud. Faithfully yours, H. P. Cluff, 21st Canadian.”

“From C. F. Wallbridge. Bramshot, Eng., Jan. 7, 1917. Dear Mrs. Kennedy:—It is with great regret we notice that your husband has made the supreme sacrifice. Percy was a member of the company I had the honor of commanding and was one of my best boys, and consequently I feel a personal loss as well.

He was always cheerful and willing, always on the job, as the expression goes. Please accept on behalf of myself and associates our sincere sympathy in your great loss. His memory will remain with us always. One crowded hour of a glorious life is worth an age without a name. Yours sincerely, C. F. Wallbridge, Major, ‘C’ Co. 155th Battalion.”

From George F. Darling. France, Jan. 1st. Dear Mrs. Kennedy:—It is with the most sincere sorrow and regret that I am writing these few lines concerning poor Percy. He was sent to Hospital on December 15th. He had a very bad cold and I think had pneumonia. I was unable to find just what Hospital he was sent to, so didn’t have a chance to see him after he left here. We received word to-night that he had passed away.

Percy was a particular friend of mine ever since I have known him, and I can say a better or truer friend never existed. On the way up here from the Base, he and I sat in the train, talking until after midnight, and shook hands to stick with each other as long as we could. We slept together and chummed together since we came to France.

I am sure, Mrs. Kennedy, he is in a better place now, and where there is no worry or trouble. I think likely there will be a military funeral. I am sure he had the best of care and everything possible done for him, for the Hospitals here are good. I may write again and give you more particulars. Anything I can do for you, Mrs. Kennedy, I would only be too pleased to do. Just drop me a card. Please accept my sincere sympathy in your sorrow and trouble, Sincerely, Pte. Geo. H. Darling, No. 636,487, 21st Bn., Canadians.”