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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.

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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: Belleville Celebrates Victories of Marne and Picardy, Lieut.-Col. Elmer Jones Killed in Action

The Intelligencer August 13, 1918 (page 1)

“Belleville Citizens Celebrated The Great Allied Victory. Belleville citizens showed their confidence in the allied armies, faith in ultimate victory, and pride in the achievements of the Canadian army in an enthusiastic celebration last evening in honor of the great victories in the valley of the Marne, and on the Plains of Picardy, which have changed the whole aspect of the war.

Brief as was the notice of the proposed celebration, Front street was lined with citizens of both sexes early in the evening, and the crowd swelled to large proportions when the City Hall bell began to peal forth defiance to the enemy and ringing peals of victory, with Bridge Street Methodist Church bell as usual sending out its joyous peal of confidence and faith.

It was one glorious evening when patriotic Canadians, renewed their vows of confidence in the triumph of right and again showed their faith and patriotic Canadians renewed their armies of the allies, after four years of war, full of sacrifice and hope deferred.

At eight o’clock the parade formed up opposite the City Hall and led by Mayor Platt and members of the City Council in an auto started along Front street amid cheering crowds of citizens who lined both sides of the street.

The 15th Regimental band came next, playing patriotic selections. Next came an auto with Lieut.-Col. O’Flynn, ex-Mayor Ketcheson and Great War Veterans, followed by other autos containing veterans of this and other wars. The pipers band gaily decorated with the flags of the allies, came next, playing the airs which have cheered gallant Highlanders to many a hard fought victory.

Then the Boy Scouts on wheels carrying victory banners showed that they were in it to the last boy. Ben Sandford’s gaily decorated chariot carried the bold inscription ‘TO HELL WITH THE KISER.’ A merry auto truck loaded with laughing girls was an evidence of the happiness inspired among the fair sex by the severe check to German Kulture by allied arms.

Then came Chief Brown and his brave fire laddies with the hose wagons and ladder trucks gaily decorated with the flags of the allies and an old and grizzled Scotchman perched high on a ladder truck merrily piping the ‘Cock O’ the North,’ and other songs of victory on a fife.

A pretty little girl riding upon a neatly decorated Shetland pony represented that under the flags of the allies the children were safe from the baby killing and licentious Huns.

Hundreds of motor cars tastefully decorated with flags and bunting took part in the parade, which was one of the best ever seen in Belleville. When the parade returned to the Market Square several thousand people had gathered and everybody was happy and jubilant.

Ex-Mayor Ketcheson took charge of the proceedings from this point and first called upon the band to lead in the National Anthem. All joined in singing ‘God Save the King’ with a will. Mr. Ketcheson then made a brief address, referring to the day four years ago when he stood near Buckingham Palace in London and listened to the hearty singing of the National Anthem by quarter of a million husky Britishers. Canadians had much to be thankful for and rejoice in celebrations such as these. After four years of the hardest fighting, trials and disappointments our fighting men are coming into their own and showing the Hun how empty is the braggart boasts of the Kaiser. …  Britain will fight to the end and victory is assured.

Ex-Mayor Ketcheson’s address was punctuated by enthusiastic cheers showing that there was no lack of confidence among the citizens assembled.

Lieut.-Col. O’Flynn was received with enthusiastic cheers as befitted one of Canada’s brave soldiers. …  Lieut.-Col. O’Flynn spoke briefly but pointedly, saying that battles were not won by speeches. …  It was a time for cheering and great joy for the allies were going to defeat the Hun so decisively that the children in such numbers on the Market Square would not have to go through the hell their fathers and brothers were going through over there now to save the freedom of the world.

Lieut.-Col. O’Flynn paid a high tribute to the loyal Canadian women whose inspiration had resulted in such a splendid morale among the Canadian soldiers. Concluding he said that liberty was safe with our gallant soldiers over there who merited our confidence and faith in glorious victory. Enthusiastic cheers and singing of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,’ followed the address of Lieut.-Col. O’Flynn.

The Mayor then made  a very brief patriotic speech and called attention to the last number on the program, THE KAISER’S FINISH which took place just around the corner. Alderman Hanna officiated at the last glad rites for his Hohenzollern effigy which dangling from a rope slid to the centre of the street over the heads of the crowd. The Kaiser at first refused to burn, true to his Satanic character, but this reluctance was soon overcome, and to the great delight of the young folk the Beast of Berlin blew up and burned up in truly lurid style.”

The Intelligencer August 13, 1918 (page 5)

“Lt. Col. Elmer Jones Killed. Lieut.-Col. Elmer Jones, barrister of Vancouver, formerly of Brockville, is reported killed in action. This gallant officer was awarded the D. S. O. for exceptional bravery under fire and an additional bar for further meritorious actions. He was well known in Belleville.”

[Note: Lieutenant Colonel Elmer Watson Jones died on August 8, 1918. He is commemorated on Page 438 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

100 Years Ago: Civic Celebration Tonight, Woman Drives Ice Wagon, Myrehall Red Cross Shipment, Captain Ketterson Returns

The Intelligencer August 12, 1918 (page 1)

“Civic Joy Celebration To-Night For Great Allied Victories. There will be a hot time in the old town tonight and a more or less faithful representation of the fate deserved by the Kaiser will be given on the Market Square where his super-Satanic Lese Majeste will be burned in effigy.

At a meeting of the City Council this morning presided over by Mayor Platt, arrangements were completed for the civic joy celebration tonight to fittingly express the jubilation of the citizens over the recent great allied victories which have changed the whole aspect of the war and are bright with promise of early and decisive triumph for the armies battling for the freedom of the world.

A parade will be held, starting from the Market Square at 7.45, led by the 15th Regimental Band and Pipe Band, and participated in by the Great War Veterans and citizens generally. Church bells and factory whistles will sound from 7.45 to 8 o’clock.

Citizens owning automobiles are requested to turn out and join in the parade, which will form at Market Square at 7.45 and proceed along Front street to the Upper Bridge, returning to Dundas and thence back to Market Square, where the Kaiser’s effigy will be cremated.

Brief speeches will be given by Mayor Platt, ex-Mayor Ketcheson, Col. O’Flynn and others. It is desirable that the parade be made as large and imposing as possible, hence every available motor car should be in line.”

The Intelligencer August 12, 1918 (page 5)

“ ‘Ged-Dap!’ ‘Whoa!’ Women are stepping into the place of men and making good in many industries, and this morning a woman was observed driving an ice wagon thus releasing a man for the army food production or munition work.”

The Intelligencer August 12, 1918 (page 5)

“Shipment for Overseas. The Myrehall Red Cross met at the home of Mr. Fred Coulter on August 8th, nineteen members being present. They sent the following to Foxboro: 19 pairs of socks, 15 day shirts, 18 suits of pyjamas, 2 quilts, $41.60 proceeds of social.”

The Intellligencer August 12, 1918 (page 5)

“On Active Service. Captain Ketterson, who went over with the 80th Battalion as Chaplain, has returned to Canada for recuperation after an arduous time in France. He has been nineteen months at the front and for about eighteen months was Senior Chaplain of a Western Brigade. He has been through the battles of Vimy, Lens, and Passchendaele and says Canada should be proud of her gallant sons, as they certainly have made good upon the battle fields of France and Flanders.

Captain Ketterson is bringing out a book which he has edited, entitled, ‘On Active Service.’ It contains over 700 quotations selected by Canadian officers on active service. Twenty Generals have subscribed to the book, including General Sir Julian Byng, Lt.-Generals Sir Sam Hughes, Sir Richard Turner, Sir Arthur Currie, Major-Generals Sir David Watson, Sir H. Burstall, L. J. Burstall, A. C. McDonnell, Brig-Gens. Ketcheson, Morrison, Radcliffe, Thacker, etc.

The book is dedicated to the gallant Canadian officers and men who have died in the great war. The editor’s profits will be devoted to their widows and orphans.”

Nurses of World War I: Ethel Blanche Ridley

Ethel Blanche Ridley was born in Belleville on March 31, 1874 daughter of Dr. Charles Ridley and Anna Campbell.

She was educated locally, graduated from St. Hilda’s College at the University of Toronto with a B.A. in 1895 and was a graduate of the New York Training School for Nurses on May 20, 1899 but missed the ceremony as she was with the United States Army in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War; later, in China, she did missionary duty providing the sick and needy with hospital supplies and comfort and organizing work in connection with training schools.  Afterwards Miss Ridley joined the staff of the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled in New York. She enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on September 16, 1914.


Ethel Blanche Ridley, courtesy of Trinity College Archives, Toronto

Height: 5’ 6”

Weight: 140lb

Age: 40 (stated age: 36)

Nursing Sister Ridley, by virtue of her long experience as Superintendent of Nurse Training Schools in the United States and her previous military service, was selected as Matron for the No. 2 Canadian General Hospital; she was stationed at Le Touquet, France and later at military hospitals in Granville, Ramsgate and Buxton England. Miss Ridley received several decorations including the 1914 Star, the Royal Red Cross 1st Class and was appointed Commander, Order of the British Empire in 1918, receiving the C.B.E. in 1919 at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. She returned to Canada setting sail on July 28, 1919 aboard the S.S. Adriatic and was discharged on August 8, 1919; she was appointed as the Directress of Nursing at the Vancouver General Hospital in 1919 but was unable to fill this position due to ill health.  Nurse Ridley returned to New York City and rejoined the New York Orthopaedic Hospital as Director of Nurses until 1942.

Ethel Ridley’s obituary in the Intelligencer, 1949 July 21

Ethel Blanche Ridley died at the Brockville General Hospital on July 18, 1949 aged 75 years 3 months 17 days. She is interred at the Belleville Cemetery Section O Row 4 Grave 7.

Ethel Ridley’s gravestone in Belleville cemetery

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