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: Few First Contingent Soldiers Return to Belleville Area, Colors of 80th Battalion to Be Placed in St. Thomas’ Church, Flood in Belleville, Poster for Soldiers of the Soil, Forestry Service Overseas, Poster for Royal Flying Corps

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 1)

“Soldiers Returned. Mayor Platt and others of this city yesterday made every effort to ascertain if there were any Bellevillians of the first contingent, who were returning home, but their efforts proved fruitless. A few of our boys did however arrive here at an early hour this morning, but the time of their arrival was not announced and a reception could not be accorded them.

They were, however, not members of the first contingent, in fact some had only been overseas but a short time. Those from the city and vicinity who arrived were Sergt. MacDonald, Privates G. Ward, S. Ray, G. Gorman, Gunners Hopkins, McBride and Privates Coughlin, A. Chapman, Pte. Kiser, O’Brien and Sanders.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 1)

“Depositing of Colors. At the morning service at St. Thomas’ Church on Sunday April 28th the colors of the 80th Battalion will be deposited in the church for safe-keeping. His Lordship Bishop Bidwell of Kingston will be present and conduct the service, which will be of an impressive nature. The colors, it will be remembered, were the gift of the Ketcheson families in this district to the battalion previous to going overseas.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 1)

“Flood Conditions. At the hour of 2  o’clock this afternoon there was scarcely any change to note in the situation of that portion of the west side of Front Street flooded yesterday owing to the water in the Moira River overflowing its banks on account of the ice jam. The ice was still held intact at the footbridge but it was apparent that a break was liable to occur at any time. This field of ice extends from the foot bridge to some distance beyond the upper bridge.

From Lazier’s mill on the Canifton Road to Corbyville there is a considerable field of ice and this is liable to come down at any time. Should it arrive before the present jam has been carried down to the mouth of the river more trouble and inconvenience will certainly ensue.

Pedestrians on the west side of the river to-day were compelled to reach Front Street either by way of the upper or lower bridge as water to a depth of two or three feet is in the gangway leading to the foot bridge from Front Street. During last night the jam of ice moved slightly, but was held owing to the firm condition of the ice just below the lower bridge. Back yards from the foot bridge to the upper bridge are still covered with water as are many of the basements of stores in that section. Some of the merchants were compelled to have stoves placed in their stores as furnaces were extinguished by high water.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 5)

“When Father Says: ‘My Son—What are you going to do in the Great War? What will your answer be? Remember, there are millions of women and children in Britain, France and Italy, not to mention the fighting men, who face starvation unless more food is produced in Canada this year.

The boys of Canada have a great responsibility to shoulder. They must form an army of food producers 25,000 strong, to help meet this war emergency.

Come right back and say: ‘I’m joining up with the S. O. S. Soldiers of the Soil.’ Canada Food Board, Ottawa.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 7)

“With the Foresters. Capt. Fleming has received an interesting letter from his son, Lieut. Alan S. Fleming on active service duty in the Forestry service overseas. Lieut. Fleming went overseas in April 1916 with 1,600 men and the force has been increased to 1,800 and is rendering valuable service to the cause of the Allies. He received his commission overseas being promoted for merit and is now on the personal staff of Gen. MacDougall, Officer Commanding.

Lt. Fleming speaks very highly in his letter of the military record and the personal popularity of Capt. ‘Bill’ Schuster who has been in charge of the traffic department of the Forestry Unit since it arrived in the Old Country and was so successful in that capacity that he was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain with good prospects of a Majority.

Capt. Schuster is at present home on furlough and expects to return to active duty in the near future. Capt. Schuster is highly esteemed by the military authorities overseas as a capable officer and his unfailing good nature and cheery optimism has won him great popularity with the men of the Forestry Unit rank and file. Lieut. Fleming speaks very highly of Capt. Schuster’s kindness to him.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 7)

“Knights of the Air. Never since the world began have valor, bravery and dash been held so high as they are to-day, among the men of the R.F.C. Heroes all, and comrades staunch, fearless as the knights of old, to be with them inspires young men of spirit to be like them, courageous, noble, strong.

Imperial Royal Flying Corps. Recruiting Office, A. R. Walker, Public Library, Belleville.”



100 Years Ago: Salvation Army Tag Day Successful, First Contingent Soldiers in Canada, Bank Clerks to Report, Poster for 15,000 Boys to Work on Ontario Farms, Canadian Club Planning Soldiers’ Reception, W. C. Mikel First Speaker

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 3)

“Salvation Army Tag Day Realized Large Sum of $640.25. The Salvation Army, Pinnacle St., March 19th, 1918. To the Editor of The Intelligencer.

Dear Sir:—Will you kindly permit me on behalf of the officers and members of the local corps of the Salvation Army to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to Mrs. Waters for her valuable assistance in the organizing and management of the Tag Day effort, to the different captains and their assistants, the principals and teachers of the schools, the press for such liberal space given to advertising of the effort, the different firms who gave such splendid assistance to the effort by donating space in their advertising columns, to Mr. Forhan, manager of Griffin’s Opera House for slide announcements at both houses, and last but by no means least the school scholars, and the public who gave so liberally and made our appeal such a splendid success.

I am confident they will receive their reward, for it says in the good book that a cup of cold water given in His name will receive its reward and when the boys come marching home they will tell you of the comfort the huts were to them. Again thanking you one and all, I remain yours sincerely, Thos. D. Ruston, Treasurer.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 4)

“See the Conquering Hero Comes. The boys of the First Contingent are in Canada again—some of them. Many sleep beneath the poppies which keep watch and ward with the wooden crosses, row on row, marking the resting places of heroes in Flanders. Others are holding the line till their pals get back from this longed-for visit to the home folks.

With hearts bursting with joy, pride of achievement, and glory in being just Canadians, the First boys are back in their beloved Canada and greeting their loved ones after the long and weary vigil on Flanders Plains. …

No welcome can be too warm for these heroes who answered the first alarm calling the Empire to arms. Let us be worthy of our glorious defenders and give them no cause to feel that their sacrifices have been unappreciated.

There will be welcomes, grand and inspiring, but the first and best welcome will be when the soldier boy swings back the gate of cottage or castle home and with a shout rushes into the loving arms of those nearer and dearer than life itself.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 5)

“Boys—Here’s a Real Job for You. Starvation faces millions of the women and children of our Allies. The cry reaches Canada for food, more food and yet more food. Canadian farmers are willing to raise every pound of food the soil will yield. But it takes plenty of work to plant, cultivate and harvest the grain and roots.

S.O.S. Soldiers of the Soil. 15,000 boys, from 15 to 19, must be obtained in Ontario to help in this emergency. Enrolment Week, March 17th to 23rd. Enrol with your School Principal, or Enrolment Officer whose name will be announced in the local press.

Canada Food Board, Ottawa. Become A Soldier of the Soil.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 7)

“Men of First Contingent. The men’s Canadian Club is arranging a reception to the Belleville soldiers of the First Contingent who are returning on furlough. Relatives of friends of first contingent men returning will kindly send their addresses and the names of the soldiers expected and when, to Dr. Yeomans, of the Men’s Canadian Club.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 7)

“The First Gun Fired. W. C. Mikel, K.C., one of the ‘Five-Minute Men’ of the Confidence and Production Army, gave a pleasing rapid-fire address between the acts of ‘Pom-Pom’ at Griffin’s Theatre last evening upon the necessity of banishing war weariness and speeding up our will to win the war and desire to help in overcoming forever the German menace.”


100 Years Ago: Poster for Boys for Farm Work, Soldiers of the Soil, Appeal to Ontario Farmers, Patriotic Tea at Belleville Club

The Intelligencer March 18, 1918 (page 2)

“Can’t You Hear Them Calling—Boys? The Soldiers of the Soil need 15,000 of you in Ontario to swell their ranks and produce food for your brother soldiers overseas. Starvation and defeat face the Allies unless more food is sent from Canada this year.

Boys, this is your grand opportunity to do your bit. You’re too young to serve in the trenches, but you can do something big—self-sacrificing—on the farm. For 3 months’ service on the farm, a Bronze Badge of Honour will be awarded. Make up your mind to win one.

Join Up! Join Up! Your Country’s Calling You! Canada Food Board, Ottawa.”

The Intelligencer March 18, 1918 (page 4)

“The Soldiers of the Soil. This is enrolment week for the Soldiers of the Soil in Canada, when it is hoped that at least 25,000 boys between the ages of fifteen and nineteen will enroll under the banner of Food Production and gladly pledge themselves to assist in the great conflict against German aggression by working on the farms to provide food for the soldiers on the firing line. …

The experiment last season of boy labor on the farms was so successful that plans for this season resulted in the present Soldiers of the Soil movement which, on a much larger and more efficient scale, will bring to the aid of the sorely pressed farmers thousands of boys whose work will be doubly valuable because inspired with true British patriotism. …

Canada is calling to its ‘teen age boys, and they are coming a-running. Heroes many, slackers few. ‘Teen age boys can enroll all this week as Soldiers of the Soil at the Y.M.C.A. building. Y.M.C.A. Secretary Brockel is already out organizing the boys of the district as far east as Cornwall, and with his well-known energy and enthusiasm is bound to meet with abundant success.”

The Intelligencer March 18, 1918 (page 4)

“Special Appeal to Ontario Farmers. With a view to doing its part in the monster greater production campaign under organization by the Dominion Government, the Ontario Department of Agriculture has issued 20,000 large advertising cards calling upon farmers and others to exert every effort on behalf of food production during the coming year. These cards have been distributed to railway stations, post offices, schools and stores throughout the Province.

In addition to the cards, 100,000 pamphlets consisting of four pages of printed matter, setting forth the Government’s aim toward a greater spring wheat production, and giving instructions in regard to the preparation of soils for this purpose have been issued. …

The movement toward registration of labor for agricultural purposes is well under way, and within a short time, it is expected that every man, woman and child, of workable age, will be asked to prove their loyalty to the Empire by working upon the land in the interests of greater production. As this is a Dominion project, the Ontario Government’s part in the scheme will be to place its share of the labor secured by registration.”

The Intelligencer March 18, 1918 (page 6)

“Patriotic Tea. The tea given by Mrs. Hyman’s Knitting circle at the Belleville Club on Saturday afternoon, in aid of the Women’s Red Cross and Patriotic Association was a great success and $120 was made to buy yarn for socks for the men in the trenches. The beautiful sweater coat donated by Miss Jessie Neilson was drawn for, and little Miss Gwen Lazier drew the lucky ticket, No. 43 giving the coat to Mrs. Gain, 302 Bleecker Ave. The prizes for the guessing contest were won by Mrs. Bird, Miss Downey and Miss McKay.”

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