Welcome to the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

The Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County preserves the history of our community through the records of local governments, individuals, families, businesses and organizations. Find us in the Belleville Public Library building at 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville, Ontario. Call us at 613-967-3304.

The archives is open Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm and on Friday and Saturday by appointment.

Archives News

Belleville in World War I

Follow the citizens of Belleville and Hastings County as they face the challenges of the home front during the First World War through excerpts from The Daily Intelligencer, August 1914 to November 1918.

100 Years Ago: War Saving and Thrift Stamps, Soldiers’ Pay to Continue for Three Months, Soldiers’ Christmas, No Parcels for Prisoners of War

The Intelligencer November 20, 1918 (page 1)

“War Saving And Thrift Stamps Authorized By Canadian Govt. Special Despatch to The Intelligencer, Canadian Press, Limited. Ottawa. Official announcement is made today of the Government’s inauguration of a War Savings Stamp and Thrift Stamp campaign in Canada along a line similar to that run in the United States for some time. War savings stamps will be on sale at a price which works out at about four and one-half per cent interest and are redeemable in January, 1924. Thus, a stamp worth five dollars on that date can be bought in December or January next for four dollars. As time passes the price will increase in proportion. Thrift stamps will be for smaller amounts on the same basis.”

The Intelligencer November 20, 1918 (page 2)

“Soldier’s Pay Will Continue. Ottawa. Every Canadian soldier who comes back from the front, will, after his discharge, be carried on the pay list for three months. He will get a cheque each month of that period at the rate he received when on service.

Announcement of this financial feature of demobilization plans was made at the Militia Department to-day. The idea is to tide over each man during the period intervening his discharge and settling down to civilian employment.”

The Intelligencer November 20, 1918 (page 7)

“Soldiers’ Christmas. The pupils of Queen Victoria Public School prepared their Christmas boxes for the soldiers overseas, relatives of scholars, and mailed them to-day.”

The Intelligencer November 20, 1918 (page 7)

“Prisoners’ Parcels. No more parcels will be received at the post office for prisoners of war in Germany. Postmasters have been notified to this effect. It is announced that the Canadian Red Cross Society in London is providing for the prisoners of war in Germany.—Kingston Whig.”


100 Years Ago: Gradual Return of Men, Telephone Operators Appreciated, Pupils’ Essay Contest on War, Lewis Kellar Gassed

The Intelligencer November 19, 1918 (page 2)

“Gradual Return of Overseas Men. Ottawa. In a conference with the Militia Department the Reconstruction Committee of the Cabinet decided that there should be a gradual return of overseas men, so that they may easily be absorbed as they come. They will be taken to whichever of twenty dispersal districts is nearest their home and there discharged.

In England a census of the men is being taken now to discover who have jobs open for them, business or farms to go to, what they would like to do, and how many desire or need re-education to fulfil their ambitions. …

Plans are also in preparation for bringing back the 4,000 men engaged in Canadian coastal naval service. Efforts will be made to get long service and pivotal occupation men back first.”

The Intelligencer November 19, 1918 (page 6)

“ ‘Hello’ Girls Service Is Appreciated. The courtesy and special service of Bell Telephone Co. operators during the recent period of excitement caused by great events of world-wide interest has been recognized in the following circular issued by the General Manager of the Bell Telephone Co.:

‘The splendid work of the operators of our telephone system during the armistice rumors is a matter to command admiration. Simply deluged with calls far beyond their capacity to handle under normal conditions the telephone girls threw themselves determinedly into the breach to meet the crisis, foregoing rest and food in order to meet the situation. It was real war work, just as much as in a munitions plant, for in disseminating to the public service was being performed of an essential nature, closely correlated to the civilian’s need in supporting the boys at the front. The Telephone operators deserve the gratitude of the community.’ ”

The Intelligencer November 19, 1918 (page 7)

“School Children’s Contest. An essay contest is being conducted at Griffin’s Theatre this week under the auspices of the Quinte Chapter, I.O.D.E. Prizes will be awarded for the best essay on the war not to exceed one hundred words in length, a committee of teachers to act as judges. The contestants will be divided into four classes, according to age as follows: 7 to 9 years, 9 to 11 years, 11 to 13 years, 13 to 15 years, and for the best essay submitted in each of these classes a cash prize of $2.50 will be given. The essays are to be handed in at the Wednesday afternoon matinee at Griffin’s and the winners will be announced at the Saturday morning matinee when Griffin’s special feature picture ‘The Great Love’ will be presented. A percentage of the proceeds of the special matinee will be received by Quinte Chapter to be devoted to patriotic purposes.”

The Intelligencer November 19, 1918 (page 7)

“Pte. Kellar Gassed. Mr. Lewis Kellar, of this city, is in receipt of the following telegram: ‘Sincerely regret to inform you Pte. Lewis Kellar, infantry, officially admitted to 4th General Hospital, Danne Camieres, on November 6th—gassed.’ ”



100 Years Ago: Hastings County Wins Honor Flag, 39th Battalion Colors Deposited in St. Thomas Church, Honor Flag Floats over Belleville City Hall, Coal Consumers to Register, Parcels for Soldiers, Great Victory Loan, Alfred Earle Wessels Improving, En Route to Siberia, Souvenirs of War

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 1)

“Great Final Canadian Victory. The good old County of Hastings once more came to the front in a great patriotic effort. The Victory Loan Canvassers’ objective of $2,100,000, $150,000 special subscriptions making $2,250,000 the complete objective was reached on Saturday night. Already the City of Belleville has subscribed over $800,000 and the County of Hastings over $2,400,000. This was not done without extremely hard work. Up until twelve o’clock Saturday night throughout the entire County the canvassers were at work till the last minute until the stroke of twelve. All evening long the offices were crowded and the large staff kept busy every moment of the time. Subscribers were writing applications on tables and desks all over the headquarters. This last minute rush put the County well over the objective.

The following telegram was received from Provincial headquarters in appreciation of the work done here: ‘W. B. Evans, Victory Loan Headquarters, Belleville, Ont. Fine work Evans. Accept heartiest congratulations upon putting Hastings over and winning the Flag. G. H. Wood, Chairman.’ …

Telegram received from Ontario Headquarters, Toronto: ‘Mr. W. B. Evans, County Organizer, Victory Loan, Belleville. Congratulations to Mr. Deacon, yourself and others in raising your objective in Hastings County. Fine Work. (Sgd.) E. B. Thompson, Organizer, Eastern Division.’ ”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (pages 1, 3)

“Colors of 39th Battalion C.E.F. Deposited in St. Thomas Church. Brilliant Military Ceremony. Interesting Ceremony of Depositing Colors Which Accompanied 39th Battalion to England and Were Later Returned—Gift of Belleville Citizens Through Women’s Canadian Club—Proud Record of 39th Battalion—Many Sleep Where Poppies Blow in Flanders’ Fields.

Order of Service.

The colors of the 39th Battalion, which was mobilized in Belleville during the first six months of the year 1915, were deposited in St. Thomas Church yesterday morning at eleven o’clock. The Depot Battalion paraded headed by the Bugle Band to the church. The colors were presented by Lieut.-Col. J. A. V. Preston, Officer Commanding the 39th Battalion, to Ven. Archdeacon Beamish, who placed them on the altar. [correction The Intelligencer Nov. 19, p. 7] …  Special and appropriate music was rendered by the choir and a member of the Depot Battalion played the hymns on a cornet. Despite the unfavorable weather the spacious church was filled, the congregation including many strangers and visitors from other churches, when the service started there was not a vacant seat left in the church.

The address was given by Lt.-Col. J. A. V. Preston, Officer Commanding the 39th Battalion, who sketched briefly the history and achievements of the Battalion in a very interesting manner. …  Although they had not been privileged to go to the front as a unit, the officers and men had reinforced no less than 34 Canadian units in the field. …  And now having fought their fight, and finished their course, and kept the faith, they returned these colors to the keeping of the people of Belleville knowing that they would be preserved and cared for as a sacred trust.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 2)

“Honor Flag Floats Proudly Over City Hall of Belleville. From the flag staff of the city building an honor flag floats proudly to the breeze symbolizing that Belleville in the Victory Loan Campaign reached and went beyond its objective. …

At 1.30 a parade headed by the Bugle Band of the First Depot Battalion followed by a large number of autos paraded Front street and upon returning stopped at the city building where the ceremony of raising the flag was carried out. The battalion under command of Lieut.-Col. Smart was drawn up in line and an auto containing Messrs. W. B. Deacon, chairman of the County organization; E. G. Porter, K.C., M.P., and Mayor Platt, was moved to the centre of the street from which the presentation of the flag and speech making took place.

Mr. E. G. Porter, K.C., M.P., was the first speaker and upon rising was most cordially received. In his opening remarks he referred to the fact that the Finance Minister of Canada was compelled to ask of the people a large loan for the prosecution of the war. …  He (the speaker) did not know exactly what had been raised but he did know that Belleville like the boys at the front had gone over the top (cheers). …  It was a pleasure for him to announce that the city had won the flag and it was also a pleasure for him on behalf of His Excellency to present the flag to the chairman of the district, the flag which was the hope of the world (cheers). Three cheers were also given for the city of Belleville. The flag was then handed over by Mr. Porter to Mr. W. B. Deacon.

Mr. Deacon stated that Belleville had gone over the top again. At the commencement of the campaign there were many disadvantages chief of which was the epidemic which raged for some time. The committee, however, got their second wind and they knew the city and county would do their duty in the matter. …  It was a pleasure for him to present the flag to Mayor Platt of this city to be preserved as a memento of what Belleville had accomplished in the Victory Bond Campaign.

Mayor Platt on accepting the trophy from Mr. Deacon said that it afforded him great pleasure as Mayor of the city to accept the flag which had been presented through our representative in the Dominion Parliament. That flag meant much to us as it represented not only freedom, but success. …  The citizens of Belleville he knew would be proud of the flag which would float over the city hall. The flag was then taken by Mr. H. B. Stock up the tower of the city building and amidst cheers was hauled up to the top of the flag staff where it floated proudly to the breeze.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 2)

“Coal Consumers. Citizens who have not received their full winter supply of coal are requested to register their requirements with the Fuel Commissioner at once, in order that the Coal Merchants may make provision to as far as possible keep a stock of coal to supply the demands of the city. Thos. F. Wills, Fuel Commissioner.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 3)

“Parcels for Soldiers. Pending the conclusion of peace negotiations no definite statement is possible with regard to the demobilization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but it is not likely that many of the boys ‘over there’ will be home for Christmas. Hence most of them should receive their Christmas presents. Those sending parcels may, by writing the request on the wrapper, have them returned in case of non-delivery, or they may put on the package the address of several soldiers, so that in case the one for whom the gift is intended in the first place is on the way home, the sender will have the satisfaction of knowing that another friend has received them. If neither of these courses is followed, the military authorities will distribute the contents of the packages to the soldiers in whatever manner they deem just.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 4)

“A Great Victory. The success of Canada’s five hundred million dollar Victory Loan shows the confidence Canadians have in their country, present and future. It only remains for the spirit which has animated Canada’s magnificent war effort to be continued in the time of peace and directed toward building up a great and glorious nation. No country is half as rich in mineral resources as Canada, with millions of acres of rich agricultural land still unbroken, forests, mines, waterpowers, and a citizenship ambitious and unconquerable—let us build upon this glorious foundation a national structure worthy of our opportunities.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 5)

“Not Seriously Ill. Some weeks ago Mr. Walter Wessels residing at 71 Lewis Street, city, received a telegram that his son, Pte. Alfred Earle Wessels had been dangerously wounded. On Saturday the following notifying telegram was received by Mr. Wessels. ‘A cable received from England states that Pte. Alfred E. Wessels infantry, officially reported no longer seriously ill at 20 General Hospital, Dannes, Camiers, November 8th. The many friends of the young man in this city will be pleased to learn that he is improving.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 5)

“En Route to Siberia. Belleville on Saturday afternoon extended a farewell to members of the reinforced draft to Siberia from Military District No. 3 which included 37 members from the First Depot Battalion in Belleville and 21 members of the Second Depot Battalion at Ottawa, the later arriving here Friday afternoon. Just previous to the men leaving the armories Mrs. George Wallbridge, Regent of the Argyll Chapter, I.O.D.E., presented each with a pair of home-made knitted socks, which gift was much appreciated. The boys were also provided with a suitable luncheon from the canteen at the armories. At four o’clock headed by the Bugle Band the boys marched to the G. T. R. station where they entrained for Toronto. The streets were lined with spectators who cheered lustily as the contingent passed by.”

The Intelligencer November 18, 1918 (page 5)

“Souvenirs of the War. In the window of Mr. T. Blackburn’s Store, Front Street, is displayed a varied assortment of souvenirs picked up on the battlefields of France by Bandsman W. G. Wannacott, who went overseas with the 254th Battalion and was later attached to the 21st Battalion. The souvenirs are the admiration of all who review them, and consist of a German gas helmet, a small German alarm clock, German insignia of regiments, postcards of that country and other articles. The collection is one that is highly prized by the relatives of Bandsman Wannacott, who received them.”

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