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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: Farewell Party Held for Charles McLean and Vincent O’Neil, Poster for Registration

The Intelligencer June 5, 1918 (page 2)

“Farewell Party To Soldier Boys. A large party of friends met at the home of J. S. McLean, 8th concession of Tyendinaga, to wish Charles McLean and Vincent O’Neil good-bye and good luck upon the event of their leaving home for overseas service. They were each presented with a wrist watch from their friends and a prayer book and testament from the Myrehall Red Cross.

The following address was read by Miss Jennie Alford: To Mr. Charles McLean and Mr. Vincent O’Neil. Dear Charlie and Vincent,—We, your friends and neighbors, have gathered here this evening for the purpose of bidding you farewell before your departure for overseas service. We feel sure that your loss will be felt most keenly in your home. We will miss you greatly from our surrounding circle and neighborhood where we always found you willing to lend a helping hand. We feel that we could not let this opportunity pass without showing some little token of the high regard in which you are held. …

We now ask you to accept these watches, hoping they will help you to remember the friends you leave behind. We all join in wishing you good luck and a speedy return to home and loved ones. Signed on behalf of your friends, Henry Alford, John Goodfellow.”

The Intelligencer June 5, 1918 (page 6)

Poster for registration“5,000,000 cards to be filled out. 5,000,000 certificates to be issued. 150,000 workers to be enlisted. 25,000 registration booths to be operated.

Registration a Stupendous Task. One Day – Saturday – June 22nd.

Volunteer Workers Urgently Needed. To carry out this vast programme efficiently and completely, intelligent voluntary helpers are essential. Individuals, women’s societies, clubs, fraternal societies, church organizations and municipal organizations are asked to help.

Interpreters of all languages will be required. Those qualified should apply to the Registrar of their district at once.

Issued by authority of Canada Registration Board.”

100 Years Ago: Veterans’ Day Great Success, Ad for Grape Nuts, Edwin Naylor Prepares to Leave

The Intelligencer June 4, 1918 (pages 1, 3)

“Veterans’ Day Great Success. Fine Weather, Big Crowds. King’s Birthday Celebration Fulfilled Every Expectation. Nature in her most kindly and glorious mood smiled on the Great War Veterans of Belleville in providing the finest kind of weather for the first serious effort at entertaining essayed by soldiers who have returned from active service overseas.

Old Sol in all his splendour, unmasked by threatening clouds, smiled down on a happy throng which gathered in Belleville from every part of the district to do honor to our gracious King on his birthday, and show due appreciation to the soldiers of the King, who cheerfully left their homes and crossed the sea, ready to suffer and to die if need be, that freedom should not perish from the earth and that the peaceful homes of Canada and the honor of womankind should be saved from the infamous domination of the Beast of Berlin.

The crowds came early and stayed late and from early morning all roads leading to Belleville were thronged with horse and horseless vehicles filled with many holiday-seekers, all possessed with but a single thought, to spend the day with the Great War Veterans of Belleville.

The business places and residences of the city were profusely decorated with flags and bunting, and the city never looked finer or more attractive to the thousands of visitors than on this memorable occasion.

The officers and members of the Association of Great War Veterans of Belleville, can feel justly proud in the success of the first celebration under the auspices of the organization held in this city. …

The celebration was formally opened with the big parade in the morning and the streets were crowded with spectators long before the advertised time for the procession to start. First came Mr. J. J. B. Flint as mounted marshal, followed by automobiles containing veterans of the present war whose disabilities prevented them from marching; then came the 15th Regimental Band playing martial music; next in order marched Belleville’s returned soldiers, led by Lieut. Col. E. D. O’Flynn. The veterans made a fine appearance notwithstanding the fact that many of them showed the effects of war in their physical appearance, although the spirit of determination which had carried them through much suffering and sacrifice, still burned as brightly as ever.

Gray-haired veterans of the Fenian Raid, Riel Rebellion and South African war marched with all the vigor and enthusiasm of the younger men, and in striking contrast were the soldiers of the future, the Cadets of the High and Public Schools who marched proudly and in perfect step behind the veterans of present and past wars.

Then came a float representing Canada, profusely decorated with maple leaves and carrying an emblematic beaver in front. Five young ladies, prettily and daintily costumed completed the picture. Next came Britannia, proudly seated upon a throne, the personification of freedom and the unquenchable spirit of liberty which knows no defeat. The float was prepared by the War Workers Association of West Belleville, and Mrs. E. T. Austin made an excellent Britannia.

A Greater Production float came next, showing young people working in the garden. The Kokomo Girls occupied a large open bus, and were as sweet and pretty as the play is musical. Tohneto Camp Girls in Indian costume made a very attractive float. The Red Cross float was tasty and appropriate. The Belleville Fire Brigade made a fine showing with their equipment shining like new, and following the fire teams came a long procession of gaily decorated automobiles led by Mayor Platt and city officials. …

In the early afternoon another parade was held to the Exhibition Grounds which were soon filled by a very large crowd. Very appropriately the celebration closed with a presentation of that charming musical comedy, ‘The Girl from Kokomo,’ at Griffin’s Theatre, which was crowded to capacity. …

Immediately after the noon meal people commenced to wend their way to the Agricultural Park and in a short time a stream of humanity was entering the gates. In addition to those on foot there were hundreds of automobiles, and not a few horse-driven vehicles. The crowd was without doubt one of the largest, if not the largest, that has ever gathered at the Park. This was apparent from the receipts which were in the vicinity of $3,900. It was estimated that upwards of 10,000 men, women and children were at one time within the enclosure. All were bent upon enjoying themselves, and evidently did so. An excellent and varied programme was provided and all entered with zest into the sports. …

At 2 o’clock the 15th Regimental Band, playing patriotic selections, came upon the ground, and in a few minutes thereafter the program was commenced. From the judge’s stand, after the crowd had assembled Lt. Col. E. D. O’Flynn on behalf of the Great War Veterans Association extended a hearty welcome to all present. All were pleased at the splendid patronage accorded the Association. The object of the demonstration was to provide means for procuring rest and recreation rooms for those who are fighting in Flanders when they come home again.

Mayor Platt spoke briefly extending on behalf of the citizens of Belleville a hearty welcome to all. He was especially delighted at the large gathering present to assist in the worthy object. All were proud of the Great War Veterans who have sacrificed so much. In years to come their deeds will be extolled. The heartiest welcome possible he would extend to all and hoped all would enjoy themselves.”

The Intelligencer June 4, 1918 (page 3)

Ad for Grape Nuts

“The Present Policy of Food Conservation is strongly supported by the skilful method used in the processing of the well-known food Grape-Nuts. This blend of wheat, barley and other grains, with their rich, nutritive elements, make a food unparalleled as a builder of health and vigorous physique.

It is economical, no sugar being required. Its self-developed grain sugar gives it sufficient sweetness. Grape-Nuts is a delicious food and invaluable as part of the daily dietary. ‘There’s a Reason.’ Made by Canadian Postum Cereal Co. Ltd.”

The Intelligencer June 4, 1918 (page 5)

“A Soldier’s Farewell. A very pleasant time was spent last evening by the members of the Y. P. S. C. E. of Emanuel Church, who entertained one of their number, Edwin Naylor, who expects to be called to the colors shortly. An address of appreciation was read to Mr. Naylor and he was presented with a Gillette safety razor. Several happy speeches were made.”

[Note: Y.P.S.C.E. = Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor.]

Nurses of World War I: Stella May Jenkins

Stella May Jenkins was born at Belleville on November 20, 1881 daughter of John Jenkins and Mary Sullivan. The family lived at 142 Church Street.

House at 142 Church Street, Belleville

She was educated locally and was a graduate of the Nursing School at St. Luke’s Hospital in Utica, New York about 1906. Here she continued to practice her profession until she enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on January 6, 1916 in Kingston.

Height:  5’ 9”

Weight:  150lb

Age: 34

Nursing Sister Jenkins sailed for England in March 1916 with the Queen’s University Unit of Nursing Sisters and was first attached to the Duchess of Connaught Hospital on Lady Astor’s Estate; after four months Miss Jenkins was sent to the Canadian Hospital at Le Tréport, France following which she was transferred to Etaples near Boulogne. Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British forces, commended her for conspicuous bravery, an honour which resulted in her being awarded England’s Laurel Leaf; at an outdoor investiture at Buckingham Palace at the end of the war she was personally decorated by King George with the Royal Red Cross First Class Medal. Miss Jenkins returned to Canada setting sail on July 5, 1919 aboard the S.S. Carmania, was assigned to the Queen’s Military Hospital and was discharged on October 16, 1919. Nurse Jenkins returned to Utica where she served as Director of the Utica Red Cross and in 1942 was awarded the Business and Professional Club of Utica’s Scroll of Achievement Award.

Stella May Jenkins died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Utica on March 23, 1954 aged 72 years 4 months 3 days. She is interred at the Belleville Cemetery Section D Row 11 Grave 4.

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