100 Years Ago: Vote Passes for Union Government and E. Guss Porter, Christmas Cheer for Poor Children, Soldiers Voting in Trench and Hospital

The Intelligencer December 18, 1917 (page 1)

“Union Government and E. Guss Porter. There was great rejoicing in Belleville last night over the triumph of Union Government and the election of E. Guss Porter, K.C., and up until midnight there were many sounds of celebration and cheers of the victors. …

The City Hall was the mecca of Mr. Porter’s supporters and here a telegraph instrument had been installed and the returns national and local received and announced, interspersed with speeches from well-known citizens. …

A feature of the City Hall gathering was the presence of many returned soldiers in uniform, several of them making snappy speeches. The soldiers had a grievance and were highly indignant at the treatment they received in various polling booths in the city. The charge was made from the platform, that agents for Mr. Graham in the polling booths, acting under written instructions from Graham head quarters, challenged every returned soldier and required him to take an oath that he was entitled to vote. This of course resulted in such ballots not being counted, but placed in a separate envelope for judicial action later if necessary. The story occasioned general indignation as it was felt that to challenge the vote of a returned soldier was going entirely too far.

The soldiers were so enthusiastic for Union Government and Mr. Porter that they insisted upon drawing the victorious candidate about the city in a large sleigh. Mr. Porter can boast of a ride behind a splendid brigade of the heroes of Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Courcelette and other fields of carnage and honor where the name of Canada was written in undying letters of blood upon the history of the world.”

The Intelligencer December 18, 1917 (page 3)

“Christmas Cheer For Poor Little Kiddies. The following letter from the Superintendent of the Children’s Aid Society needs no comment—it is an appeal for a happy Xmas for the kiddies who are becoming good citizens of Canada through the offices of the Children’s Aid Society. Will Santa Claus come to the Shelter with his team of Rheindeers and bags of beautiful presents, is the haunting joy and fear of the little ones there, while the Superintendent wonders whether the Christmas spirit will send needed funds to keep the work going as it should go.

The Intelligencer will be pleased to accept any sums for the Children’s Shelter Santa Claus Fund and give due acknowledgment for same in these columns.

Dig down, now folks, ‘every mickle makes a muckle,’ and if this don’t move you read Dicken’s Christmas Carol and see what happened. ‘Old Scrooge’ who was transformed by the blessed Christmas spirit which is worth any amount of money to acquire.

All together now for the kiddies’ Santa Claus. Here is the appeal from the Children’s Shelter.

Children’s Aid Society City of Belleville and Hastings County To The Editor of The Intelligencer. Dear Sir:—Permit me to ask on behalf of our Management Board if you would kindly open a Santa Claus Fund through the columns of your paper, on behalf of the Children’s Shelter. We are in urgent need of assistance so that we can help the helpless little ones. We would like to raise one thousand dollars, $1,000.00 so that we can start the New Year with a clean sheet.

You know that owing to the dreadful war everything has gone up in price and to meet our present requirements we urgently need liberal assistance. The society is supported by voluntary contributions and we have to look to the generous hearted friends to help us to carry on this great work of saving the children. Will you kindly help us to bring our needs before the public for we feel if they only had the chance given them they would respond liberally.

Thanking you in anticipation of your kind favor on behalf of the Management Board. I remain. Yours sincerely, Thos. D. Ruston.”

The Intelligencer December 18, 1917 (page 4)

“Soldiers Voting In Trench and Hospital. Canadian Army Headquarters in the Field, via London. As I cabled some days ago, voting has been extended right into the firing trenches, while the gunners have voted beside their guns.

The most dramatic of all the incidents of the war election to date has been the securing of votes of men wounded in action. …  the deputy presiding officers, scrutineers and poll clerks have brought their ballot boxes with them to the advanced dressing stations and voted men as they lay in bed, men who were so weak from suffering that it was all they could do to mark their ballots.

The election officers have taken their boxes with them on the tramways behind the lines and have voted the men as they worked. In the same way they have gone through the frontline trenches, giving men in the firing line their opportunity to exercise the franchise.”