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.

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: Memorial Service for Lieut. Murray, Ad for Wrigley’s, Memorial Service for Marson Hitchon

The Intelligencer January 14, 1918 (page 6)

“Memorial Service for Lieut. Murray. A memorial service was conducted last evening at St. Thomas’ Church by the Ven. Archdeacon Beamish for the late Flight Lieut. William Douglas Gillespie Murray, son of Mr. John W. Murray, manager of the Dominion Bank branch at Belleville. The young aviator had barely passed his eighteenth birthday and was only overseas a short time on active service with the Royal Flying Corps when he was wounded, death resulting on January 3, 1918.

The young Flight-Lieutenant was a member of St. Thomas’ Church; he was born in June 1899, at Belleville, baptized in October of the same year and confirmed on Whitsunday, 1915. He started training as an aviator at Toronto last summer and went overseas in the fall. …

Fifty boys and girls from the High School, playmates and schoolmates of the aviator who has laid his young life on the altar of his country, attended the service, and at their comrade’s death, but proud for his achievement and heroic sacrifice.

The beautiful Anglican service for the dead was conducted with appropriate hymns and organ selections by Prof. Wheatley and the choir, while a Requiem solo was sweetly sung by Miss Mildred Fagan.”

The Intelligencer January 14, 1918 (page 6)

“Wrigley’s With the land forces and with the fleet. Wrigley’s gives solace in the long watch, it freshens and refreshes, steadies nerves, allays thirst, helps appetite and digestion.

‘After every meal’ The Flavour Lasts. Keep your boy supplied.”

The Intelligencer January 14, 1918 (page 7)

“Memorial Service. Despite the severe stormy weather prevailing on Sunday night a large congregation assembled at the John Street Presbyterian Church in this city, where a memorial service was held for the late Private Marston Hitchon, who recently died from wounds received while on active service. A number of the members of the Great War Veterans Association were present in addition to many in khaki.

The pastor, Rev. D. C. Ramsay, conducted the services and preached an appropriate discourse, referring to Pte. Hitchon, whose death removed a young man who was a member of the church, and took an active part in church and Sunday School work. His loss was deeply mourned by all who knew the brave young man. During the service the choir rendered in an effective manner the hymn ‘Crossing the Bar.’

Pte. Marston Hitchon was a son of Mr. Joseph Hitchon of this city, and enlisted and went overseas with the 155th Battalion. He had been in France but a short time when he was fatally wounded. Marston had the graceful manner of a true gentleman and also ability. He was a graduate of the Belleville High School, at which seat of learning he was a general favorite. In sports he excelled, capturing the junior championship in 1914 and intermediate in 1915.”

[Note: Private Marson Hosie Hitchon died on August 2, 1917. He is commemorated on Page 256 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

100 Years Ago: Letter from Leslie Yerex, Letter of Thanks to Canadian War Contingent Association, Ad for Grand Masquarade Carnival

The Intelligencer January 12, 1918 (page 2)

“From Leslie Yerex 33rd Battery. Folkestone, Dec. 13, 1917. Dear Mother,—I was going to wait until I got back to France before writing, but as I have a little time to spare, here goes. I have had a swell time for fourteen days, the first leave I have had in London since going to France seventeen months ago. …

Do you remember a young girl named Beatrice Lily? She attended St. Agnes’ School and sang in the Palace Theatre in the evening. Well, she is making a great hit over here in the Variety Theatre on The Strand. She sings several songs of Canada and the papers here call her ‘our Canadian favorite.’ I went to hear her sing—and she’s pretty good. …

London is some town; you could walk around for a month and not see a quarter of it. …  Well, mother, I don’t think I realized what a life we lead and how hard it is until now, after being in civilization for two weeks, it seems like going out of the world altogether to go back. You should see the difference in the ‘leave’ trains. Coming everybody is as happy as a kid with a new toy and singing and laughing. Today we got on the train at Victoria station and I don’t believe there was a word said all the way. …

Now we are in Folkestone, waiting to cross to Boulogne. …  I will write again when I get across. Good-bye for now. LES.”

The Intelligencer January 12, 1918 (page 6)

“The Canadian War Contingent Association have received the following acknowledgment of parcels of Christmas cheer sent overseas:

“16th Can. General Hospital, Orpington, Kent, Dec. 19. C. W. C. A., 62 West Bridge Street, Belleville, Ont. My Dear Friends,—Your boxes of Christmas cheer for the wounded boys in my ward have arrived, and I want to thank you for such generous gifts. I have taken a peep at them, and they are beautiful big Christmas stockings, and there will be fifty-four very happy boys.

Not only will they have lots of good things, but they will be able to get a pair of socks—a thing that has been almost impossible here for weeks. Will you believe when I say, we have had a sock famine here for two months? …  The ones we have I fancy were made of poor wool, for the first washing or two shrank them to infant’s size, so of course the poor men can’t get into them. …

We are having some very wintry weather at present, with the ground covered with snow. At present I am writing this letter, dressed as if for out of doors. Besides being swathed in wool I have on a warm sweater, a heavy coat and woollen gloves—so if you can’t read this scribble you will forgive me. …

Again let me thank you all for bringing so much pleasure into the Tommies’ Christmas and for giving me the pleasure of dispensing your generosity. Affectionately yours, Ethel Anderson.”

The Intelligencer January 12, 1918 (page 6)

“Grand Masquerade Carnival. Belleville Arena, under the auspices of the Women’s Red Cross and Patriotic Association, for wool and hospital supplies.

Monday, Jan. 21st, 1918. Tickets 25¢; Coffee and Sandwiches 10¢. Band in Attendance. Good Prizes.”

100 Years Ago: Women’s Red Cross and Patriotic Association

The Intelligencer January 11, 1918 (page 3)

“The regular monthly meeting of the Women’s Red Cross and Patriotic Association was held in the new rooms on Campbell St. on Tuesday evening, Jan. 8th, Mrs. O’Flynn, acting President, presiding. The secretary’s report was read and adopted.

Letters were read from Capt. Mary Plummer, acknowledging a Christmas remembrance from the association, also comforts forwarded to the Belleville men in the trenches. Cards have been received from Belleville boys, prisoners in Germany thanking the association for food and clothing. About sixty letters have been received by different members of the association from Belleville boys in France, acknowledging Christmas parcels, also Christmas cards containing the names of the officers of some of the battalions.”

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