100 Years Ago: Christmas in the City

The Intelligencer December 26, 1917 (page 5)

“The Merry Makers. The Arena Rink was a favored spot for holiday merry-makers yesterday afternoon and evening and large crowds enjoyed excellent skating. The musical programmes rendered by the band were very much appreciated by the skaters and spectators.

“Christmas Dance. The Kiora Circle were at home to their many friends in Johnstone’s academy last evening. The academy was beautifully decorated with many Xmas emblems. Lunch was served and a Serpentine dance took place. A Belleville orchestra furnished the music and a most enjoyable time was spent by all until the wee small hours.

“Christmas at the Theatres. A little bit of war, a considerable bit of love interest and some genuine thrills favored the holiday crowds at Griffin’s theatre yesterday matinee and evening. Jolly Billie Burke in ‘Arms and the Man’ was the feature, and a very satisfying feature it was, the story affording this dainty and clever little actress abundant opportunity for the display of her exceptional talent. The Palace also had a good program and was largely patronized.

“Santa Claus Made Many Calls. Christmas was appropriately observed at local institutions yesterday. Santa Claus came to the Children’s Shelter and delighted the lads and lassies there with beautiful and satisfying gifts. At the Ontario School for the Deaf the pupils enjoyed an excellent Christmas celebration prepared by the staff. Santa Claus also proved that he was a friend of those domiciled at the Home for the Friendless and their hearts were cheered with many evidences of the Christmas spirit. …

“Christmas in the County Jail. At Belleville jail 12 inmates, all men, partook of a Christmas dinner which had been especially provided by Governor Ketcheson and Mrs. Ketcheson. It was an extra meal, and was well served. Fruit and sweetmeats were also provided, and at the conclusion cigars were given the compulsory guests at the County Bastile, a treat which was much enjoyed. Governor and Mrs. Ketcheson were thanked for the manner in which they had looked after the welfare of the unfortunates.

“Kiddies Christmas at the Shelter. Through the generosity of many citizens of Belleville the children who are domiciled at the children’s Shelter in this city, were on Christmas Day made exceedingly happy by gifts and sweetmeats provided. After a most tempting dinner had been served the staff and children welcomed visitors, who from 3 to 6 made their appearance. The hour of 3.30 was delightful to the little ones, for at that hour Santa Claus made his appearance and he was well laden with gifts and good things which were distributed to the children, who were more than delighted. Had the donors been present they would have been more than repaid for any gift they made when they beheld the joy it gave the tots to receive the gifts.

“Christmas Dinner at the Quinte. One of the traditional features of Christmas observance is the Christmas dinner with its roast turkey, cranberry sauce and delicious dressing, supplemented with good old English plum pudding. Turkeys roosted as high as twelve dollars each on the city market this year and consequently the royal bird was absent from many boards. A number of Belleville folks yesterday very wisely saved themselves the trouble of getting up a Christmas dinner and dined at the Hotel Quinte where another of the Christmas dinners for which that famous hostelry is noted was served. The large dining-room was filled with a merry gathering and the Christmas spirit was very much in evidence in the atmosphere of good fellowship which graced the occasion. The menu was eminently satisfactory from soup to nuts and the booking and service was excellent. Christmas dinner at the Quinte was indeed a pleasant feature of a perfect Christmas day.”