100 Years Ago: Letter of Sympathy for Harry Burke, In Favour of Passports, Ladies to Canvass for Y.M.C.A. Campaign

The Intelligencer May 30, 1917 (page 2)

“From Thomas Smith. Seaford South, May 7, 1917. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Burke:—It is with a feeling of sincere sympathy I pen these few lines. I hardly know how to express my innermost feelings knowing you are now passing through a dark period of sorrow. I long to extend to you my sincerest sympathy and I hope you see beyond the dark, heavy clouds, the silver lining. …

I know you feel it badly, but one consolation remains, the fact that he died fighting for what he knew was a great cause. No stain of a slacker remains upon his career, although a short one.

He was certainly well liked by all his officers and fellow soldiers, and it was a great shock for us to learn he had fallen in the conflict, seriously wounded. I hope you will accept my sincere message of sympathy. I feel I cannot say what my heart desires, as it strikes home to me as if I had lost my best and only pal.

Well, I will close, hoping you have fought against the sad news which you have received lately from France, and bear up bravely, as I know that would have been Harry’s last wish. I remain, Your sincere friend, Thomas Smith.”

[Note: Sergeant Henry Burke died on March 29, 1917. He is commemorated on Page 210 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer May 30, 1917 (page 4)

“The Passport. The order-in-council which prohibits male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45 from leaving Canada without passports is absolutely essential to making compulsory service effective. Those who have legitimate reasons for leaving the country will not cavil at the inconvenience which the necessity for securing passports will involve. Personal inconvenience is a small matter compared to the welfare of the state as a whole.

Without such a regulation any slacker would find it easy to evade compulsory service by crossing the border and going to the United States. While the percentage of Canadians who would attempt to escape service in this way is very small, public opinion will support the Government in any steps it may take to prevent even a hundred men from making any ‘safety first’ trips.”

The Intelligencer May 30, 1917 (page 6)

“The Y.M.C.A. campaign to raise $5,000.00 as Belleville’s share of the $750,000.00 now being raised in Canada for the work overseas, is making progress and at a meeting held last night nearly $3,000.00 of the amount required was reported as being in sight.

To raise the remainder of this fund it was decided to ask the assistance of the ladies with a view to making a house to house canvass on Thursday, June 7th, and so complete the campaign in Belleville. The committee having this matter in hand report that already arrangements have been made and the ladies of Belleville, ever interested in such good work, will undertake this canvass in the residential parts of the city.”