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: William Asselstine Wounded, Harry McCreary Dies of Wounds

The Intelligencer April 16, 1918 (page 7)

“Another Son Wounded. Mr. John Asselstine of this city, has received a telegram from the Director of Records at Ottawa stating that his son, Private William John Asselstine was suffering from gunshot wounds in the head, thigh and leg. Pte. Asselstine left here with the 155th Battalion.

A brother of the wounded soldier, Pte. Charles Asselstine died in England last year, and another brother, Pte. Vincent was on October last severely wounded. The sympathy of all citizens will be extended to the members of the family in their sore trial.”

The Intelligencer April 16, 1918 (page 8)

“Pte. Harry McCreary Dies of Wounds. Another Belleville Boy Gives His Life That the Empire May Live. The sad news reached Belleville this morning that Pte. Harry Earl McCreary had died of wounds at No. 7 Stationary Hospital in France. Harry received gunshot wounds in the face and his skull was fractured on the 28th of March. His friends were anxiously awaiting encouraging news of him when the word came that he had passed away as a result of his injuries on Saturday last, April 13th.

Pte. McCreary was born in Belleville on 10th January 1888, being the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew McCreary, who now reside at 869 Manning Avenue, Toronto. He was educated in Belleville’s schools and went to Winnipeg some years ago, where he was latterly employed with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as a sleeping car conductor. On his arrival at Moosejaw one night he received a wire from his older brother advising that he had enlisted for overseas service, and Harry immediately insisted on being relieved of his duties and dead-headed into Winnipeg and signed up along with his brother Wesley.

Both brothers went to England with the 197th battalion, Wesley as captain and adjutant and Harry as sergeant. They went to France with the 78th Canadians as lieutenant and private respectively. Harry had won one stripe in the field after being transferred in France to the railway services, but he applied for transfer back to the 78th and again reverted to the rank of private in order to be near his brother and western chums.

Besides the father and mother, and brother overseas, there is a younger brother, Russell, who will graduate from McGill University next session as medical doctor, and another brother, William R., produce merchant of this city.

Harry was a splendid type of young Canadian manhood who was loved and respected by all who knew him. While he will be sorely missed, those who knew him best are proud of his sacrifice, and realize that he has died as he lived, an honorable citizen.”

[Note: Private Harry Earl McCreary died on April 13, 1918. He is commemorated on Page 454 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

100 Years Ago: No More Furloughs Granted, Canadian Casualties, In Defence of Tenants Paying Tax, Poster for Bell Telephone, Claude Caverley Dies of Wounds

The Intelligencer April 15, 1918 (page 1)

“No More Furloughs Granted To Canadians On Battle Front. London. With every available trained, physically fit Canadian soldier sent to France, the Overseas Minister of Militia has issued a drastic order for the conservation and allocation of the remaining man-power in England. In the future there will be returned to Canada only those unsuitable for any form of army service. …

Those granted leave on compassionate grounds in the future will be returned to Canada at the public expense. They will not be granted furlough, but will be struck off the overseas strength and placed at the disposal of the home authorities to discharge, return with drafts, or employ at home. …

In March there were approximately 20,000 men in the Forestry Corps in France and England. The staff of the Forestry Corps is being reduced. A number of officers were weeded out last month owing to lack of knowledge of the work. A still further reduction is possible.”

The Intelligencer April 15, 1918 (page 1)

“Casualties Among Canadian Troops. KILLED. Trenton—T. Gunyou. Plainfield—W. J. Gillespie. Harold—M. Richardson. Frankford.—A. A. Ford.

DIED OF WOUNDS. Thurlow—Sergt. C. Caverley.

WOUNDED. Belleville—A. L. Johnson, J. Bradshaw. Springbrook—Corp. A. Linn. Marmora—Corp. F. B. Loveless, H. C. McWilliams. Frankford—O. N. Pearson.”

The Intelligencer April 15, 1918 (page 3)

“The Canadian Relief Fund. To the Editor of The Intelligencer. Dear Sir,—Our country is endangered. The German wolf is at our gates. It is necessary that every citizen should contribute to the support of the families of the fighting men. No class should be exempt, because it is a national matter, and a national debt, therefore why should I, who own a house and lot, be taxed, and my tenant, who is as much a citizen of Canada as myself, go free? Why should not my tenant bear his part of the burden? It is his country as well as my country. …  Every man owes this debt to his country. Why single out one class and make it pay all? Yours truly, OBSERVER.”

The Intelligencer April 15, 1918 (page 4)

Ad for Bell Telephone

“Telephone Economy. Scarcity of Material. Materials of many different kinds enter into the make-up of the modern telephone plant. Iron, steel, tin, copper, nickel, aluminum, lead, platinum, brass, asbestos, mica, carbon, rubber, silk, cotton, woods of many kinds, dyestuffs, chemicals—these are but a few of the basic elements in a telephone system, gathered from nearly every country on the globe.

The demands of the war have caused an acute shortage in telephone material. Not only is it abnormally expensive; some of it cannot be had at any price.

We ask your help in conserving the supply of telephone material. We suggest care in the handling of the instrument and apparatus on your premises, so as to avoid costly repairs.

The Bell Telephone Company of Canada.”

The Intelligencer April 15, 1918 (page 5)

“Died of Wounds. Sergt. Claude Caverley, of Foxboro, Thurlow township, who went overseas with the 39th Battalion is officially reported dead from wounds. Deceased was 26 years of age and was a son of Mr. Edmund Caverley who died last September. Sergt. Caverley died on the hospital ship Brighton. He was a promising young man and was engaged in the teaching profession when the war broke out.”

[Note: Sergeant Claude Caverley died on April 9, 1918. He is commemorated on Page 382 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

Nurses of World War I: Margaret Vitaline Foster

Margaret Vitaline Foster was born at the farm house on the 5th Concession near Bancroft, Dungannon Township, Hastings County on July 28, 1894 daughter of Ira Foster and Agnes Brown.

She was educated in a one-room schoolhouse and walked three miles to school and back every day; the farm house had no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Margaret was a graduate of the Nursing School in Belleville in early 1917, worked at the hospital for three months and enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on May 5, 1917 at Kingston.

Height: 5’ 7”

Weight: 156lb

Age: 22

Staff and patients at the Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Cliveden (Grace Waters album)

Nursing Sister Foster served at the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Cliveden, near Taplow, England. She resigned her commission on January 10, 1919 and was united in marriage to Reverend Ernest Harston on January 11, 1919 at Maidenhead, England. He served in England and France with the Canadian Chaplain Services and rose from Private to Captain. After the wedding they were posted to Kinmel Park, North Wales for four months, were present during the riot of March 1919 and returned to Canada, setting sail on May 24, 1919 aboard the S.S. Metagama. Mrs. Harston kept house for the 23 years of her married life and after her husband died returned to her nursing career at the Toronto East General Hospital and later at the Lockwood Clinic.

Margaret Vitaline Harston died on May 1, 1990 aged 95 years 9 months 3 days.

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