100 Years Ago: Belleville Women Knit Weekly, All Must Carry Papers in June, Successful West Belleville Tag Day, Harry Pound Called to Duty

The Intelligencer May 20, 1918 (page 2)

“Belleville Women Knit Weekly in ‘Rainbow Circles’. Twenty Circles, With Twenty Members in Each, Turn Out 1,000 Socks Monthly—A Model Organization Started Just After The War Broke. (Toronto Star Weekly)

In the first month after war was declared, Belleville women organized their ‘Rainbow Circles.’ They have twenty of them with twenty women in each. A few circles are made up of young, unmarried women, and the others of married women. Each circle has its own particular color. When a pair of socks is completed it is marked with the Circle color and all are handed to the Convenor, who in turn passes them on to the Red Cross Society. The mark of the Circle color gives the convenor a chance to tally up and see which Circle has done its duty for the week or month. Each woman is supposed to complete at least one pair of socks a week. The combined Circles’ work always tally up over 1,000 pairs a month.

Lately they have taken to having some of the ‘legs’ knitted by a machine, and the Circle women hand-knit the feet. So to each meeting the convenor comes with a supply of ‘legs’ and a big quantity of wool. The legs they have knitted by a woman who has a machine in her home and is glad to do it for 10 cents a pair. She does her ‘bit’ by her low charge.

Each circle meets once a week at the home of some members from 2 to 5.30 o’clock, so they get in a good bit of knitting during that time. There is no law against talking while the knitting is going on! Then of course, the knitting is taken home and worked at there. Towards the close of this weekly knitting party a cup of tea is served with a slice or two of bread and butter or biscuits. The rules about the ‘eats’ are very strict, and no one is allowed to go beyond this simple menu, for the Rainbow Circles are out to do business and comprise intelligent, patriotic women. If any of the members live in apartments or board and cannot thus take their turn at entertaining their circle they are allowed ‘the privilege’ of paying in a dollar or so instead.

Each member pays a 10-cent weekly fee, which helps to buy wool. The younger circles, however, pay a 10-cent monthly fee. (They are daughters of those belonging to older circles.)

The ‘Rainbows’ had no difficulty in raising the wherewithal to buy wool. One of their fetes was on a big scale and held in the Armouries. At this each circle had its own booth decorated in colors of its circle, and sold whatever that circle saw fit to sell. Then they have ‘showers’ for the boys’ Christmas boxes. And hope when ‘the boys come home’ to give them some kind of a big celebration.

‘Everything goes on without the slightest friction. We never have any quarreling, and we’ve just accomplished wonders,’ said an enthusiastic member. ‘Then it’s got the women acquainted with each other drawn some ‘out of their shells’ and helped keep them from feeling so blue over the war—for our weekly gatherings are so friendly and nice.’

No doubt a great deal of the success of these circles is due to the promoter and originator of the Rainbow Circle idea, Mrs. (Dr.) Yeomans—she is the head convenor. Mrs. Yeomans has thrown herself heart and soul into the work. Her two sons were amongst the first (and youngest) Belleville boys to enlist for overseas service. One of them is now a prisoner in Germany, the other killed in action.”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1918 (page 3)

“All Must Carry Papers in June To Avoid Arrest. A far reaching amendment to the Military Service Act that covers every man in Toronto and throughout the Dominion, under the order-in-Council passed on April 30, has been received by C. Leslie Wilson, Military registrar.

The order states that, beginning June 1, all persons who claim not to be in Class One under the Military Service Act must carry papers at all times with the proper certificates of proof that they do not come within Class One. The identification papers must either be a birth certificate or a marriage license. The act previously covered only the men of Class One and has now been stretched to take in all classes.”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1918 (page 5)

“Successful Tag Day. The War Workers of West Belleville in conjunction with the members of the Victory Club, also of West Belleville on Saturday conducted a successful tag day in the city. During the day and evening many ladies and young women were engaged in disposing of tags. When the boxes were all turned in and counted the amount secured totalled $685.25.”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1918 (page 5)

“Honored Young Soldier. A number of friends and neighbors gathered at the house of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Pound to spend an evening with their son Harry, who has been called to military duty. The following address was read by Rev. Mr. McMullen, while Mr. S. Heene presented Harry with a wrist watch.

Canifton, May 13th, 1918. Dear Harry:—We, a few of your many friends, knowing that you were about to leave us in response to the call of your country for the defence of our free institutions and for the preservation of justice and liberty for the whole world, feel that we could not allow you to depart from our midst, from the hearts that love you and the dear old home that is devoted to you without in some way expressing to you the very high esteem in which you are held by this dear old community in which you were born and reared. …

As a slight token of the esteem in which you are held by us, we ask you to accept this wrist watch with the assurance that you will ever live in our hearts and prayers.”