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. We keep the traces of the past and make them available for research.

The archives is open Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm.

Archives News

Discover ‘Discover’!

Now you can explore the holdings of the Community Archives from home, if you have access to the internet. We are beginning to share descriptions of the materials we hold through a new service, which [...]

A Poster in Pieces

By Laurel Bishop and Kieran Delaney The Archives receives many donations, but few as intriguing as the colourful rolled-up newsprint poster brought in to us last year. The owner, Dr. Charles Bateman, had found the [...]

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: Soldiers’ Wives Should Stay in Canada

The Intelligencer August 26, 1916 (page 3)

“Wives Should Stay in Canada. Ottawa. Word has been received here from people engaged in relief work in London and elsewhere in England that a number of wives of Canadian soldiers now fighting in France are suffering distress because of lack of means of support.

In a number of cases the wives of Canadian soldiers left for England without notifying the military authorities, and they as a consequence are now without their separation allowances.

The wives of officers who have gone to England usually know how to look after themselves, but many of the wives of Canadian soldiers who are stranded in London are totally ignorant of what to do. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families’ Association have given aid in some cases.

The military authorities here state that it is most unwise for the wives of soldiers to think of going to England unless they have private means of support.”

100 Years Ago: A Pleasant Visit to Barriefield Camp

The Intelligencer August 25, 1916 (page 2)

“A Pleasant Visit to Barriefield Camp. Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Mayor Ketcheson, J.W. Johnson, M.P.P., W.C. Mikel, K.C., and Messrs C.N. Sulman and G.A. Bennett, motored to Barriefield Military Camp yesterday and paid a visit to Col. Adams, officers and men of the 155th Battalion, and were, they inform us, right royally received and entertained.

These gentlemen speak in the highest terms of the courtesy and kindness of the Col. officers and men of the battalion in showing and explaining all that pertains to the life and duties of a soldier, from the baking of a loaf of bread to the intricacies of a hand and field grenade.

It were well, says these gentlemen, if some of the fault finders at the cost of the munitions of war to the country would study and examine the mechanism of these apparently simple instruments of warfare and the necessary machinery to manufacture them there might be less growling and fault finding.

The party informs us they made a halt on the road down and visited the Cataraqui Cemetery for the purpose of paying a visit to the grave of the never-to-be-forgotten statesman, Sir John A. Macdonald, and express no little surprise at the simple and unostentatious granite cross that marks the resting-place of one of Canada’s greatest men.”

100 Years Ago: Soldier Disputes Exaggerated Claims

The Intelligencer August 24, 1916 (page 5)

“The Canadians and the Ypres Salient. A soldier just returned from the front writes as follows: Coming to Canada for the first time since the early days of the war, it is quite a surprise to find the impression current that Canadian troops have been given an undue share of the strenuous work on the British front.

This is perhaps due to the fact that people are prone to remember various active operations in which our men have been engaged, and to forget the long periods of comparative inactivity that have come between them.

They also are apt to forget that all the principle offensives, Neuve Chapelle, Loos, and so far, the Somme, have been conducted without the assistance of Canadian troops.

Another factor in creating wrong impressions is the imaginative letters that occasionally come from unreliable men at the front describing actions that never occurred, and which are sometimes taken seriously here. A classic example is the hoax perpetrated on a certain M.P.P. last spring.

I point this out with no wish to disparage the work done by our men on various parts of the line. I know them and it, too well for that. But the work should be viewed in some sort of perspective and not allowed to hide from our view the equally good and much less trumpeted work done by the Imperial forces.

That Canadians have had the honor of holding parts of the Ypres salient at times is a matter for pride, a pride that the casualty lists should not dim for us. But we must not, in fairness to our own men attempt to exaggerate that honor.

The Canadian force in Flanders is one corps in a very large army, and the people and press of Canada can do them no greater disservice than to make them ridiculous in the eyes of their fellows by foolish and exaggerated ideas and assertions as to their doings. Then men in the trenches who read your papers (including the advertisements) with considerable thoroughness, will laugh heartily, though perhaps somewhat sarcastically at your statement.

Perhaps you will forgive me for reminding you that the 1st Canadian Division was in the salient in 1915 for one or two weeks and not again for eleven months. The Canadian corps moved into the salient again this spring, and has held part of it for some four and a half months—a total for Canadians of five months.

I do not, of course, refer to the P.P.C.L.I. who were with an English division and got into rather more fighting.”

[Note: P.P.C.L.I. = Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.]

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