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.

Please note that the Community Archives will be closed on Tuesday December 6th until 1pm.

Archives News

Harry, the last Fire Hall horse

In 2015 the Community Archives lost one of its regular volunteers, Al Cleary. 2016 would have marked Al's fifth year of volunteering in the Archives, and in memory of him we are sharing this story, [...]

Death of a Salesman

The Daily Intelligencer of September 23, 1873 gave the following report: On Sunday morning last (September 21), at about 8 o'clock, the dead body of a man was found on a wheel barrow in the yard [...]

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: Palace Theatre Receipts to Red Cross, Bantam Recruits

The Intelligencer December 5, 1916 (page 6)

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“Help the Red Cross To-morrow. The Matinee Receipts at the Palace Theatre To-morrow, Dec. 6th Will Be Donated To The Red Cross. If Everyone Will Attend It will Give Us $60 Dollars. Will You Help? The biggest and best show ever given in Belleville will be shown. 10—Quality Reels—10. Admission 10c. Give and Heal.”

The Intelligencer December 5, 1916 (page 7)

“Bantam Recruits. The 216th Bantam Battalion, which has been recruiting so rapidly, is certainly long on short men. It has 960 of them.

Men below the average height are quite capable of performing the duties of military life in modern war. The Japanese, a race of short men are recognized as unsurpassed fighters. It is familiar tradition that a great many of the famous generals including Napoleon and Lord Roberts were small men. …

The military view, it is understood, is that tall men are apt to be more rugged than the others, better able to stand hardships and privations. Against this there is the superior agility of the short soldiers. The performances of the Japanese armies seem to remove all objections as to lack of height for active service.

Bantam battalions should become popular in Canada and it might be worth while to increase opportunities of enlistment under desirable conditions for those of short stature. The fast recruiting of the 216th Battalion is a reminder that there are a large number of short men available. Perhaps there is a Napoleon in the ranks of the popular Montreal unit.”

100 Years Ago: Bridge Street Church Unveils Honor Roll, Christmas Shopping, Women Munitions Workers

The Intelligencer December 4, 1916 (page 1)

“Patriotic Service at Bridge Street Church. Last evening the congregation of the Bridge Street Methodist Church of this city, held a service in honor of the boys who have gone to the front. An Honor Roll had been prepared which was covered with the Union Jack, and unveiled at the close of the service.

The pastor, Rev. Dr. Scott, gave a patriotic address, discussing the different phases of the war. …  The pastor then referred to the names of the four who had made the supreme sacrifice, Messrs. C.R. Burrows, H. Boyle, W.H. Green and H.E. Yeomans, and paid a splendid tribute to their gallantry, and expressed the sympathy of the church for the relatives and friends. He then read the names of those who had enlisted. …

After reading the list, Mr. F.E. O’Flynn, the according stewart of the church, was called upon to address the congregation and unveil the Honor Roll. …  Mr. O’Flynn in a feeling way expressed the deep sympathy of the members of the church for those who had died, also for those who were anxious for their boys who were in a post of danger. …

After paying a tribute to the bravery of all who had enlisted, the speaker said that after the war was over a tablet would be placed in the church of marble or brass, bearing the names of all the heroes who had been members of the congregation and enlisted in the cause. He appealed to those who had not yet gone, to help the boys at the Front. He read a recent poem on those who were left behind, and drew the Union Jack from the Honor Roll, unveiling it for the audience.

While the pastor read the names of the four men who died, the congregation rose and Professor Hunt played the Dead March in Saul, on the magnificent organ, which was never better rendered in this city. …  The service closed with ‘God Save the King’; the pastor pronounced the Benediction, and the large congregation slowly dispersed, showing that all were very much impressed with this service.”

The Intelligencer December 4, 1916 (page 3)

“Don’t Delay Your Xmas Shopping. The Christmas season is here, with its buying and giving problems, and under the abnormal conditions existing today these problems are more difficult to solve than before. With so many of the young men—sons, brothers, and fathers—across the seas, the Christmas buying season has been lengthened out because gifts and parcels to reach the soldiers by Christmas had to be sent away before the middle of November.

Yet there is a lot of buying to be done yet; in fact, merchants tell us that the spirit of buying is keen. People are now selecting the articles they wish and having them laid away until Christmas. This is a wise precaution, because the earlier you buy the better choice and service you can get. Putting it off until Christmas week is poor policy. It is not fair to the merchants, the clerks or yourself.”

The Intelligencer December 4, 1916 (page 4)

“Woman Workers in Munition Factories. ‘Women in the production of Munitions in Canada’ is the title of an exceedingly interesting Brochure of sixty-two pages, issued by the Imperial Munitions Board illustrating women in the production of War Munitions in Canada.

It has been often said that Canadian women would not respond in the call for help, that they could not make ammunitions; that they were not sturdy enough or hardy enough for such work.

If anyone still needs to be convinced of what women actually are doing in Canada in munitions works, he or she could not do better than procure one of the books referred to, or visit the factories where they are at work.

The photographs contained in the book before us are selected from a large number taken in the various factories in the Dominion in which women are employed. The pictures show women making shell fuses, in all the various operations, too technical to convey much if described, by mere words, but intensely interesting when seen in the pictures.

This department was formed by the Imperial Munitions Board to assist the Canadian Munition Manufacturers to cope with a depletion of male help and to prevent any diminution of output arising from such a cause, and the women in Canada have nobly responded to the call, and are doing their share not only in Munition Factories, but in every sphere of life, in which delicate hands can be utilized in assisting the empire in its work of suppressing tyranny and militarism.”

100 Years Ago: Joseph Murphy Killed in Action, John Blair Died of Wounds, King George Donates Five Thousand Pounds, Sir Douglas Haig Thanks Munitions Workers

The Intelligencer December 2, 1916 (page 8)

“Pte. J. Murphy Killed. Marmora Herald. After only eight weeks in France, Pte. Joseph Murphy was killed while resting three miles behind the trenches, October 25, according to a letter received from the adjutant of his battalion by Pte. Murphy’s uncle, Mr. J. F. Deadley, 12 Grenadier road, superintendent of the Mimico division of the Toronto and York Radial Railway.

Pte. Murphy was 18 years old when he enlisted with the 80th Battalion in Belleville. He had only graduated from school. He went overseas in June, and reached the front with the draft to another unit.

The message from the trenches reads:—I am directed by the officer commanding to express to you on behalf of himself and all ranks under his command, the sympathy of all, on the occasion of the death of Pte. J. J. Murphy which occurred yesterday. In company with three companions he was just outside his dugout, when an enemy high explosive shell exploded about ten feet away, killing instantly the whole party.

‘For some days Pte. Murphy had been employed as a battalion runner being especially recommended for that important duty, and I am pleased to say that his work in that capacity was very commendable.

A funeral service was conducted in the afternoon, attended by the officers and men of the unit. In his death the unit has sustained the loss of a well-conducted soldier, and one who was ever willing to do his duty most cheerfully.’ Deceased was a brother of Pierre Murphy, of Marmora township.”

[Note: Private John Joseph Murphy died on October 25, 1916. He is commemorated on Page 140 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer December 2, 1916 (page 8)

“Crookston. Mrs. Elizabeth Blair of Crookston, received the following telegram: ‘Regret to inform you that No. 220362 Pte. John Blair, Infantry, officially reported died of wounds, Nov. 5th, 1916. Gunshot wounds inside.’

This makes the third Crookston boy who makes the supreme sacrifice. The others were reported killed a few weeks ago. Private Blair enlisted last winter with the 80th at Belleville making the remark at the time ‘that he would get to France sooner by enlisting with that Battalion, than with the 155th’ who were recruiting at the same time.

Only three weeks ago Mrs. Blair lost her eldest daughter by death and now comes the sad news of the eldest boy and the bread-winner of the family, going down in the firing line in France.”

[Note: Private John Blair died on November 11, 1916. He is commemorated on Page 55 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer December 2, 1916 (page 9)

“Copy of Cablegram Received by Organization of Resources Committee. The King’s Message.

The work of mercy jointly carried out by the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem has evoked among my people the deepest feeling of gratitude and pride. From what I have seen at home and at the front I fully appreciate the splendid work the Society has accomplished.

As it is only by a United Kingdom that victory will be secured so for the relief of those who suffer in its attainment must we stand equally united. I have great pleasure in giving five thousand pounds as a donation to the Fund upon the resources of which there must be ever increasing demands. (Signed) GEORGE R. I.”

[Note: George R. I. stands for “Rex Imperator” or “King and Emperor.”]

The Intelligencer December 2, 1916 (page 11)

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“Sir Douglas Haig in his report upon The Battle of the Somme, writes: ‘First let me thank the munitions workers. This magnificent victory could not have been won without the self-sacrifice and devotion of those women and men who have so faithfully laboured to provide us with the munitions necessary to carry out our plans.’

When the history of this war is written, the part played by the munitions workers will rank in importance second only to that of the soldiers and sailors. To-day the cry is for more and yet more munitions.

Every Shell is a Life Saver.

Mark H. Irish, Director of Munitions Labor, National Service Board, Canada.”

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