100 Years Ago: Shall Women Always Knit? Harry Aldous Killed in Action, Edgar Stapley Wounded

The Intelligencer May 16, 1917 (page 1)

“Ottawa. Knitting not only on the Sabbath but during Divine Service! It is done in Montreal, but whether the women can hold the thread of the sermon in mind with twenty stitches on their needles is a mooted question.

The departure from the observance of the Lord’s Day under the pressure of patriotic duty is suggested by the Civil Service publication, the ‘Civilian’ and the opinion of prominent local ministers were sought on the project, but they refuse to commit themselves on their probable action.

Women knitting in the Sunday afternoon Red Cross concerts during the winter caused little comment and no commendation, and according to the Rev. Mr. Sparling, the women of the Dominion Methodist Church have been bringing their knitting to Wednesday night prayer meeting for some time past, but he was not prepared to say how he would treat divided attention during the Sunday morning sermon. Other ministers side-stepped the question entirely.

The custom was started in Montreal by a clergyman’s wife, it is said, who took her knitting to church and so enthused the women members of her parish that they all followed suit, and when the steel needles proved distracting to the minister bone needles were substituted.”

The Intelligencer May 16, 1917 (page 2)

“Mrs. Jas. Savage, Baldwin St., received the following letter from Mrs. Aldous, from St. Cross, Harleston, Norfolk, England: Dear Mrs. Savage: I cannot write much. I received the sad news this morning that My dear son, Harry was killed on the 9th of April. I never saw him at all, but he often wrote and said he wanted to see me, and I was always asking God to spare him. Well, dear, you know my heart is broken and I must close with my best love and wishes from Mrs. Aldous.

‘Harry,’ although he had no relatives in this country, had many friends. He worked for some time with Mr. G. Roblin of Thurlow, and left with the 80th Battalion. The news of his death is received with much regret.”

[Note: Private Harry Samuel Aldous died on April 9, 1917. He is commemorated on Page 190 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer May 16, 1917 (page 2)

“Mrs. Rosina Stapley, residing at 85 Lingham Street, in this city, has received the following telegram: Ottawa, May 14th. Sincerely regret to inform you 636672 Pte. Edgar Stapley, infantry, officially reported admitted to Eleven General Hospital, Camiers, May 6th, 1917; gun shot wounds in left shoulder and thigh; severe. Will send further particulars when received. Officer in Charge of Records.”