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: Sons of Soil in Khaki Uniform, Poster for Soldiers of the Soil, First Contingent Soldiers Return, More “First Men” Arrive

The Intelligencer March 21, 1918 (page 1)

“ ‘Sons of Soil’ in Khaki Uniform. Ottawa. The Canada Food Board has approved of a standard uniform for the older boy soldiers of the soil, who are being enlisted this week in most of the Provinces for service on the farms. The uniform is smart and at the same time well suited to farm work. It consists of the shirt and pants of militia khaki with brass S.O.S. buttons. They will be sold to the boys, by retailers, at $3.50 per suit, or separately at $1.70 for the shirt and $1.80 for the pants. In addition to the suit the uniform will also consist of a harvester straw hat, pinned up at one side with a one-inch red, white and blue band.

The appearance of the entire uniform is neat and attractive, despite the fact that little regard has been had for its ability. The Board has also approved of the bronze badge of honor which will be awarded to every soldier of the soil who completes three months of satisfactory service on a farm this year. The badges will be presented during the summer at public gatherings. All boys between the ages of thirteen and nineteen are eligible for the badges.”

The Intelligencer March 21, 1918 (page 6)

“When Mother Says: ‘Do you want to go, Son?’ Think of the other Canadian boys, just a few years older, who are holding the fighting line in France, exposed to shot and shell, rain and cold, mud and dust. You wouldn’t feel worthy to shake hands with them when they come back unless you, too, did something big—self-sacrificing—and difficult—to help win the war.

The call to fill the ranks of the Soldiers of the Soil is your big war opportunity. The crucial need of the Allies today is food—more food—and yet more food—so to mother

Speak right up and say: ‘I’m proud to join the S.O.S. Soldiers of the Soil.

Canada Food Board, Ottawa.

The Intelligencer March 21, 1918 (page 7)

“Home on Furlough. In addition to the names published in The Intelligencer yesterday of returned heroes others arriving here were gunners Geo. Hope and Harry Dillnut, Ptes. Geo. Lancaster and Jas. Gordon, all of whom were members of the 1st Canadian contingent. The two former left Belleville with the 34th Battery and both saw considerable fighting. Pte. Leslie Gordon, of this city, who went overseas with the 59th Battalion also arrived home.”

The Intelligencer March 21, 1918 (page 7)

“ ‘First Men’ Arrive. Mayor Platt, Col. Ponton, and Richard Arnott, constituted a civic reception committee which welcomed returned soldiers arriving in Belleville yesterday on the G. T. R. flyer. Among a number who left the train here was George Lancaster, one of the original ‘First’ who left here when the war began. He gained fame and honor as the Bomber of the 2nd Battalion in which capacity he gave Fritz many an uneasy moment, and was the father of many military funerals behind the Hun lines. Bomber Lancaster crossed the sea with Major Dick Ponton and Major Ed. O’Flynn. He has two brothers in France, one of whom is now in hospital with fifteen wounds.

Other returned men greeted by the representatives of the citizens were Pte. Oulson, of Allisonville, a member of the 2nd Battalion and a ‘First’; Corp. Hill, of Madoc, with the 21st Batt., Pte. Anson, of the 59th Batt., and several of the 155th boys going to Campbellford.”

100 Years Ago: Few First Contingent Soldiers Return to Belleville Area, Colors of 80th Battalion to Be Placed in St. Thomas’ Church, Flood in Belleville, Poster for Soldiers of the Soil, Forestry Service Overseas, Poster for Royal Flying Corps

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 1)

“Soldiers Returned. Mayor Platt and others of this city yesterday made every effort to ascertain if there were any Bellevillians of the first contingent, who were returning home, but their efforts proved fruitless. A few of our boys did however arrive here at an early hour this morning, but the time of their arrival was not announced and a reception could not be accorded them.

They were, however, not members of the first contingent, in fact some had only been overseas but a short time. Those from the city and vicinity who arrived were Sergt. MacDonald, Privates G. Ward, S. Ray, G. Gorman, Gunners Hopkins, McBride and Privates Coughlin, A. Chapman, Pte. Kiser, O’Brien and Sanders.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 1)

“Depositing of Colors. At the morning service at St. Thomas’ Church on Sunday April 28th the colors of the 80th Battalion will be deposited in the church for safe-keeping. His Lordship Bishop Bidwell of Kingston will be present and conduct the service, which will be of an impressive nature. The colors, it will be remembered, were the gift of the Ketcheson families in this district to the battalion previous to going overseas.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 1)

“Flood Conditions. At the hour of 2  o’clock this afternoon there was scarcely any change to note in the situation of that portion of the west side of Front Street flooded yesterday owing to the water in the Moira River overflowing its banks on account of the ice jam. The ice was still held intact at the footbridge but it was apparent that a break was liable to occur at any time. This field of ice extends from the foot bridge to some distance beyond the upper bridge.

From Lazier’s mill on the Canifton Road to Corbyville there is a considerable field of ice and this is liable to come down at any time. Should it arrive before the present jam has been carried down to the mouth of the river more trouble and inconvenience will certainly ensue.

Pedestrians on the west side of the river to-day were compelled to reach Front Street either by way of the upper or lower bridge as water to a depth of two or three feet is in the gangway leading to the foot bridge from Front Street. During last night the jam of ice moved slightly, but was held owing to the firm condition of the ice just below the lower bridge. Back yards from the foot bridge to the upper bridge are still covered with water as are many of the basements of stores in that section. Some of the merchants were compelled to have stoves placed in their stores as furnaces were extinguished by high water.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 5)

“When Father Says: ‘My Son—What are you going to do in the Great War? What will your answer be? Remember, there are millions of women and children in Britain, France and Italy, not to mention the fighting men, who face starvation unless more food is produced in Canada this year.

The boys of Canada have a great responsibility to shoulder. They must form an army of food producers 25,000 strong, to help meet this war emergency.

Come right back and say: ‘I’m joining up with the S. O. S. Soldiers of the Soil.’ Canada Food Board, Ottawa.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 7)

“With the Foresters. Capt. Fleming has received an interesting letter from his son, Lieut. Alan S. Fleming on active service duty in the Forestry service overseas. Lieut. Fleming went overseas in April 1916 with 1,600 men and the force has been increased to 1,800 and is rendering valuable service to the cause of the Allies. He received his commission overseas being promoted for merit and is now on the personal staff of Gen. MacDougall, Officer Commanding.

Lt. Fleming speaks very highly in his letter of the military record and the personal popularity of Capt. ‘Bill’ Schuster who has been in charge of the traffic department of the Forestry Unit since it arrived in the Old Country and was so successful in that capacity that he was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain with good prospects of a Majority.

Capt. Schuster is at present home on furlough and expects to return to active duty in the near future. Capt. Schuster is highly esteemed by the military authorities overseas as a capable officer and his unfailing good nature and cheery optimism has won him great popularity with the men of the Forestry Unit rank and file. Lieut. Fleming speaks very highly of Capt. Schuster’s kindness to him.”

The Intelligencer March 20, 1918 (page 7)

“Knights of the Air. Never since the world began have valor, bravery and dash been held so high as they are to-day, among the men of the R.F.C. Heroes all, and comrades staunch, fearless as the knights of old, to be with them inspires young men of spirit to be like them, courageous, noble, strong.

Imperial Royal Flying Corps. Recruiting Office, A. R. Walker, Public Library, Belleville.”



100 Years Ago: Salvation Army Tag Day Successful, First Contingent Soldiers in Canada, Bank Clerks to Report, Poster for 15,000 Boys to Work on Ontario Farms, Canadian Club Planning Soldiers’ Reception, W. C. Mikel First Speaker

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 3)

“Salvation Army Tag Day Realized Large Sum of $640.25. The Salvation Army, Pinnacle St., March 19th, 1918. To the Editor of The Intelligencer.

Dear Sir:—Will you kindly permit me on behalf of the officers and members of the local corps of the Salvation Army to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to Mrs. Waters for her valuable assistance in the organizing and management of the Tag Day effort, to the different captains and their assistants, the principals and teachers of the schools, the press for such liberal space given to advertising of the effort, the different firms who gave such splendid assistance to the effort by donating space in their advertising columns, to Mr. Forhan, manager of Griffin’s Opera House for slide announcements at both houses, and last but by no means least the school scholars, and the public who gave so liberally and made our appeal such a splendid success.

I am confident they will receive their reward, for it says in the good book that a cup of cold water given in His name will receive its reward and when the boys come marching home they will tell you of the comfort the huts were to them. Again thanking you one and all, I remain yours sincerely, Thos. D. Ruston, Treasurer.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 4)

“See the Conquering Hero Comes. The boys of the First Contingent are in Canada again—some of them. Many sleep beneath the poppies which keep watch and ward with the wooden crosses, row on row, marking the resting places of heroes in Flanders. Others are holding the line till their pals get back from this longed-for visit to the home folks.

With hearts bursting with joy, pride of achievement, and glory in being just Canadians, the First boys are back in their beloved Canada and greeting their loved ones after the long and weary vigil on Flanders Plains. …

No welcome can be too warm for these heroes who answered the first alarm calling the Empire to arms. Let us be worthy of our glorious defenders and give them no cause to feel that their sacrifices have been unappreciated.

There will be welcomes, grand and inspiring, but the first and best welcome will be when the soldier boy swings back the gate of cottage or castle home and with a shout rushes into the loving arms of those nearer and dearer than life itself.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 5)

“Boys—Here’s a Real Job for You. Starvation faces millions of the women and children of our Allies. The cry reaches Canada for food, more food and yet more food. Canadian farmers are willing to raise every pound of food the soil will yield. But it takes plenty of work to plant, cultivate and harvest the grain and roots.

S.O.S. Soldiers of the Soil. 15,000 boys, from 15 to 19, must be obtained in Ontario to help in this emergency. Enrolment Week, March 17th to 23rd. Enrol with your School Principal, or Enrolment Officer whose name will be announced in the local press.

Canada Food Board, Ottawa. Become A Soldier of the Soil.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 7)

“Men of First Contingent. The men’s Canadian Club is arranging a reception to the Belleville soldiers of the First Contingent who are returning on furlough. Relatives of friends of first contingent men returning will kindly send their addresses and the names of the soldiers expected and when, to Dr. Yeomans, of the Men’s Canadian Club.”

The Intelligencer March 19, 1918 (page 7)

“The First Gun Fired. W. C. Mikel, K.C., one of the ‘Five-Minute Men’ of the Confidence and Production Army, gave a pleasing rapid-fire address between the acts of ‘Pom-Pom’ at Griffin’s Theatre last evening upon the necessity of banishing war weariness and speeding up our will to win the war and desire to help in overcoming forever the German menace.”


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