From the Newspaper Published in Belleville, Ontario
This is a series of articles selected and edited from the Intelligencer newspapers during the war years 1914-1918. Canada was brought into the First World War on August 4, 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany.
Community Archives volunteer Laurel Bishop has researched the Intelligencer newspapers (published in Belleville, Ontario) to find reports about local men and women who served in the war and evidence of how the war affected life on the home front.
Edited excerpts from the newspapers appeared on the Archives web site exactly 100 years after the day they were published in the newspaper. Complete copies of all articles can be viewed at the Archives. Note that many of the images with the articles are from other collections at the Archives – they were not printed in the newspaper but are included here to illustrate the people or places under discussion.
“In response to Canada’s call for men and a special regimental order by Lt.-Col. Marsh, commanding officer of the Fifteenth Regiment, of this city, last evening there was a great gathering at the Armouries here. Not only young men, but older men were out in full force, and not a few women. …
Shortly after eight o’clock Col. Marsh had the men assembled and addressed them briefly. … Great Britain was at present face to face with a great crisis. … We owe a duty to the flag that has protected us for all these years. … Loud cheers were given at the close of the Colonel’s remarks, and the work of enlisting was gone on with. In one company over forty enlisted, and the other seven companies enrolled a large number.
“The Belleville tourists, who are at present at Hotel Cecil, in London, England, cable: “Sailings all cancelled; don’t know when we shall be home. All well; don’t worry.” This is the information received by Mrs. L.E. Allen this morning. Mr. C.J. Bowell writes: “They had just returned from Paris and Brussels, Belgium, where they had been visiting,” adding, “where in fact the populace are wild.”
“The local militia took on a more warlike routine here today when recruits and volunteers assembled at the Armouries in uniform for drill, which will be continued daily … the volunteers will be allowed pay and subsistence allowance at the authorized rates. … Rifle practice is held every afternoon and evening at the armouries for recruits and members of the regiment. Shooting at all ranges is practised and the men will have acquired considerable skill with the rifle before they leave the city.”
“Belleville today had in reality its first taste of the present war, when the men of the 49th Hastings Rifles left the city to take their place in the first overseas contingent from Canada. At two o’clock this afternoon they left the armouries, and the scene of their departure was a memorable one. Hundreds of citizens assembled to bid adieu to the boys and wish them in their hearts God-speed and a safe return to their home. Previous to the march out the volunteers were given a supply of sandwiches which the ladies of the Daughters of the Empire had provided. …
Col. Ketcheson, commanding officer of the 49th regiment, could scarce restrain himself whilst speaking. He said he had been for 28 years connected with the 49th regiment, and he loved the boys. He was proud to see them turn out in the defence of their country, and hoped all would come back safe and sound. His prayer was for God’s blessing upon them all. Three lusty cheers were then given to the boys, who responded with cheers. Headed by the 15th Regimental band, playing rousing martial airs, with the 34th Battery and the 15th Regiment as an escort, they marched to the station. All along the route the boys were cheered again and again.”
“Hundreds of citizens of all ranks gathered at the Armouries at the noon hour to bid the boys adieu … each member of the contingent was called and presented by Mrs. Col. Marsh with a sovereign piece the gift of the city. They were also given $4 each, the gift of the officers of the regiment. … The ladies of the Daughters of the Empire presented to each volunteer sandwiches for the trip to Valcartier. Before leaving the parade ground at the Armouries the volunteers were lined up and a photograph of them was taken. …
The crowd that gathered at the station to see the boys off packed the platform on all sides. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sweethearts, showing evidence of sorrow, one mother, who must look after two little grandchildren, bearing up nobly under the strain.
The scene as the volunteers marched to the station, was pathetic, yet heart-thrilling, the bagpipes playing a Scotch air, tears flowing, hats waving, others shouting, and then came the entrainment – the shaking of hands through the car windows, the boys bearing up bravely under the trying ordeal. The last good-bye was spoken, and the train moved away.”
“That the citizens of Belleville are thoroughly in earnest and prepared to do their duty in the present crisis was demonstrated last evening when the Griffin Opera House was filled to overflowing with an enthusiastic audience. The occasion was a patriotic concert, … for the benefit of those who are left behind and dependent upon the brave volunteers who went to the front.
The response was most spontaneous. At the hour of eight o’clock nearly every seat in the spacious building was filled and shortly after many were compelled to stand. Although the price of admission was placed at 25 cents, a number were pleased to pay much more. … Above the boxes on either side of the house, Union Jacks were displayed. The programme, which was varied in its character, including moving pictures, appealed to all, and was pleasing. ”
“A practical and interesting meeting of the members of the Home Guard was held last night in the Armoury. There were about 100 present, who enrolled and signed the articles of agreement to serve in any capacities assigned to them individually or collectively. … On motion of Mr. W.C. Mikel, Friday of each week was selected for drill, and it was also arranged to have musketry instruction on Thursday and Friday nights at the Armouries. The musketry instruction is the most important part of the work. …
Colonel Ponton gave interesting reminiscences of the part taken by local militiamen in 1837, 1846 and 1848. … Sir Mackenzie Bowell, in his usual vigorous manner, urged the necessity for a watchful lookout for suspicious strangers in our midst. After the meeting all the members fell in for their first drill under the command of Colonel Lazier. None were too old to march, and all were willing. It was an unique occasion, which all enjoyed.”
“Brilliantly lighted, with flags, bunting and pennants displayed in profusion, the West Side Playground presented a pleasing sight last evening, which, with frequent music by the Fifteenth Regiment Band, under the leadership of E.R. Hinchey, and the demonstrations of St. Michael’s Cadet Bugle Corps, made up one of the patriotic events of the season.
Selling booths had been placed about the grounds, all well patronized, candy, ice cream and other luxuries answering the call of all. … In the pavilion, which was prettily decorated, the school children gave excellent drills under the direction of Miss Woodley. Fully five hundred were upon the grounds, and the receipts, for the benefit of the Soldiers’ Fund, were most satisfactory, amounting to $75 or more.”
“Previous to the march to the station of the local contingent, the batterymen were lined up on the parade ground of the Armouries and were photographed. At this time there were thousands of citizens of all classes about the grounds, some joyful, others sorrowful. … Mayor Wills, in addressing the men, said he could not but regret the fact that an occasion had arisen when it was necessary for them to leave the city. It was, however, a source of pride to the citizens to see so many volunteer to go to the front. … Colonel W.N. Ponton, Chairman of the Board of Education, briefly addressed the men … pointing out their responsibility as gunners, for without the cannon infantry and cavalry could not act. ….
The boys were then formed up, and to the stirring music of the regimental band under the leadership of Bandmaster Hinchey, stepped off on the march to the station, along Bridge, Front and Dundas streets, the walks on either side were crowded and cheer after cheer rent the air as the brave boys passed by. The St. Michael’s Cadet Bugle Band were also in the parade and gave selections on the march. It is estimated that there were between 4,000 and 5,000 persons assembled at the C.N.O.R. station and grounds to bid adieu to the boys. It was indeed a scene that will long be remembered in this city.”