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: Ad for Sinclair’s, Red Cross Penny Bags, Coal from Gas Works, High School Patriotic Concert, Ad for Adams Chewing Gum

The Intelligencer February 7, 1918 (page 2)

“Sinclair’s. Store Closed Saturday and Monday. In accordance with the order of the Government Fuel Controller our Store will be closed all day Saturday and Monday.

Friday Bargain Day. Because of our closing on Saturday and Monday we have decided to make Friday a Busy Day. Here are some special attractions: Dress Ginghams Only 15¢. Chamoisette Gloves 75¢. Penman’s Hose 50¢. Ladies’ Silk Waists, $2.65.

Make Friday Your Shopping Day. Store Open As Usual on Tuesday.”

The Intelligencer February 7, 1918 (page 3)

“Red Cross Penny Bags January Collection. The returns from the monthly collection of the Red Cross penny bags for January were most encouraging. We mentioned in the notice of collection that our funds are at present very low; and that every available cent was required to meet the increasing demands.

The prices of wool and of materials for making hospital supplies have risen to such an extent, and the women have been working so energetically, that the Women’s Red Cross and Patriotic Association have some little difficulty added in financing their work. At this month’s meeting alone one thousand pairs of socks were handed in, knitted by zealous workers, anxious to help our soldier boys in every possible way.”

The Intelligencer February 7, 1918 (page 6)

“Coal from Gas Works. While the demand for orders for coal today were not as numerous as yesterday, there were many citizens who visited the office of the local fuel controller to obtain a limited supply of fuel. This morning the Schuster Company was fortunate enough to have one car of hard coal brought to the city and this was quickly taken up by those who had orders.

Mayor Platt in company with ex-Mayor Ketcheson, this morning visited the gas works on Pinnacle street, where it was seen that there was a good supply of coal. As a result of their visit it was decided that for the present 100 tons would be disposed of to citizens who were in need of fuel. This will have the effect of relieving temporarily many households.”

The Intelligencer February 7, 1918 (page 7)

“High School Pupils Patriotic Concert. Under the auspices of Class III.C ’17 the entertainment given in the High School auditorium last evening was one of the most successful of the season. Each number on the programme was rendered in such a manner that to single out any one for special mention would be unfair. The auditorium of the school was well filled with interested spectators who evidenced their appreciation by applauding for encores.

Class III.C ’17 are to be congratulated upon the success of the evening and the proceeds will be added to the Prisoners of War Fund.”

The Intelligencer February 7, 1918 (page 7)

Ad for Adams Chewing Gum“Adams Black Jack. At Ypres—where Canadians wrote history, the wounded and weary found comfort in the chewing gum that thoughtful friends had supplied. And in most cases, it was—Adams Black Jack.

A stick a day keeps the soldiers’ homesickness away. When you buy some for yourself, buy some for a soldier.

Made in Canada. Adams Pure Chewing Gum.”

100 Years Ago: Retail Stores to Close Saturday, Protest Against Saturday Closing, Coal Wanted at Khaki Club, Food Stores to Close at Noon, 263 Belleville Homes Without Coal

The Intelligencer February 6, 1918 (page 1)

“All Retail Stores Must Close Saturday. Special Despatch to The Intelligencer, Canadian Press, Limited. Ottawa. That all retail stores shall close next Friday night and remain closed till Tuesday morning no matter how they are heated, by wood, coal or gas, this was the final decision of Assistant Fuel Controller Peterson this morning, after being interviewed and hearing arguments of an influential deputation representing the Retail Merchants Association. Peterson pointed out that any change made now, substituting Tuesday for Saturday, would only make further confusion and further hardship.”

The Intelligencer February 6, 1918 (page 4)

“Protest Against Saturday Closing. The closing of certain industries and stores for three days—Saturday, Sunday and Monday, February 9th, 10th and 11th, by order of the Government of Canada, to save fuel, is no doubt right in principle as a necessary war measure. …

The protest of the Retail Merchants Association of Ontario made to the Government that the closing of stores on Saturday will be accompanied by a heavy financial loss, more so than on any other day of the week, and suggesting a change to Tuesday as entailing a smaller loss, is well based, particularly in cities like Belleville where Saturday is market day and a great volume of trading is done by customers from the country who bring in their goods to market and make their purchases afterward. Saturday is the big shopping day of the week for everybody and custom is hard to alter. Past experience has shown that the loss of one Saturday’s trade is never made up again, consequently merchants prefer to have holidays observed on almost any other day of the week.”

The Intelligencer February 6, 1918 (page 7)

“Coal Wanted at Khaki Club. The Khaki Club which is being used by the soldiers quartered in Belleville, may have to shut down for lack of fuel. The water pipes are frozen and the frost has cast quite a shadow upon the customary cheerful atmosphere, of this soldiers gathering place.

Surely some one can spare out of their abundance a little coal to keep the soldier’s club warm. If several gave a little it would help mightily. The soldier boys will have enough discomforts before they finish fighting for us without having to suffer while in training.”

The Intelligencer February 6, 1918 (page 8)

“Many and varied are the puzzling cases which will need special rulings by the fuel controller in connection with the fuel saving closing order. …  Some of his rulings are: Banks can remain open only for the payment of bills of exchange, etc., falling due on Saturday and Monday. Deposits must not be accepted or cheques cashed. Only enough heat to make the offices comfortable for the few clerks engaged in the special work will be allowed.

Stores selling food products must close at 12 o’clock noon on Saturday and Monday. Bakeries with a shop in connection may bake all day, but must close the shop at 12 o’clock noon. Offices in telephone and telegraph buildings, not occupied by the companies themselves, must close.”

The Intelligencer February 6, 1918 (page 8)

“263 Homes Without Coal. One of the busiest places in the city the past few days is the office occupied by Mr. Thos. S. Wills, Fuel Controller of the city. An idea of the need of coal in the city may be gathered from the fact that from the hour the office was opened this morning until two o’clock this afternoon no less than 263 orders had been issued for coal. These were chiefly quarter ton lots, but in a few special cases a half ton order was given.

Whilst there is in the coal yard premises in the city some soft coal, hard coal may be considered a luxury as there is scarcely any available. A car load of hard stove coal arrived in the city this afternoon per G.T.R. for the Allen Coal Company, and the car was brought down to the city. The contents of the car was soon disposed of.

A number from the country to-day applied to the controller for an order to procure coal, but in every instance it was refused, as every available pound of coal must be reserved for our citizens, who are unable to procure wood, which is also a rather scarce article.”

100 Years Ago: Closures to Save Coal, Ban on Cream of Wheat, Bitter Cold and Little Coal, Heatless Homes, Reaction to Industry and Store Closure, Letter from Exchanged Prisoner Harry Simpson

The Intelligencer February 5, 1918 (page 1)

“Coal Saving Days for Ontario and Quebec. Close Industries and Stores. Special Despatch to The Intelligencer, Canadian Press, Limited. Ottawa. An Order-in-Council has been passed that Quebec and Ontario factories, industries and shops, except food shops, must close February 9th, 10th and 11th, to save fuel.

Theatres, poolrooms and other places of amusement must remain closed every Monday from February 18th to March 25th. Munitions plants are not excepted but newspapers and public utilities are. Fines of $5,000 are provided for infringement of order.”

The Intelligencer February 5, 1918 (page 1)

“Ban on Cream of Wheat. Ottawa. The Food Controller’s regulations in control of Canadian mills automatically prohibit the manufacture of farina, cream of wheat, or similar products. Additional regulations which have just been announced provide that upon written application the Food Controller may grant permission to mills to manufacture what is known to the trade as farina for children and invalids.”

The Intelligencer February 5, 1918 (page 2)

“Thirty Below Zero. Early yesterday afternoon the thermometers commenced to record colder weather, and when the shades of evening had fallen it was extremely cold. …  At several places about the city 25 and 27 degrees below zero were registered, with 30 below at the C. N. R. station. …  A number of water services in various parts of the city were frozen during the night.

To make matters worse the coal situation in the city seems desperate. Fuel of this nature could only be secured in 200 or 300 pound lots, and that is soft coal. It was reported that in some instances in the city it was necessary to place children in bed in order to protect them from the cold. …  Many a home in the city during the night felt the need of more fuel to keep up a proper temperature, but was forced to curtail its use. …  This morning the High School pupils were sent home as the class rooms were too cold.”

The Intelligencer February 5, 1918 (page 2)

“Heatless Homes To-Day. At two o’clock this afternoon when a representative of The Intelligencer paid a visit to the office of Mr. T. S. Wills, local fuel controller, no less than 38 women and men were waiting to receive orders from him to obtain some coal. The controller informed the scribe that there were several homes in the city where there is not a pound of coal, and the situation would have been extremely critical if the G.T.R. had not given orders for two cars of soft coal to be used by the city. This was being given out in quarter-ton lots.

The controller and citizens generally appreciate this kind act of the railway authorities. It is reported that some cars laden with hard coal are enroute to the city, but it is with difficulty that the railways are able to handle freight owing to the extremely cold weather.”

The Intelligencer February 5, 1918 (page 2)

“Closing of Factories and Stores. Great interest is being taken locally in the order-in-Council passed by the Dominion Government to close all industries and shops in Ontario and Quebec on February 9, 10, and 11, to save fuel, also ordering that theatres, pool rooms, and all places of amusements be closed every Monday from February 18 to March 25. …  Apart from the two-day enforced holiday of a number of workmen it is not thought that much inconvenience will result from the order locally, although a number of factories will be affected.

The order closing theatres, pool rooms, and other places of amusement on Mondays for a stated period, while not received with pleasure by those affected is taken with all good philosophy as a necessary measure and one of the war time sacrifices which all good Canadians are willing to assume when called upon.”

The Intelligencer February 5, 1918 (page 2)

“From Pte. H. Simpson, Royal Scots. Robert Simpson, shoe repairer, 387 Front street, received the following letter from his son, a prisoner in Germany for three years and four months: Hotel, Du Nord, Interlaken, Switzerland, Jan. 10th, 1918.

Dear Father:—I have been exchanged here with the invalids, and we crossed this frontier on the night of the 27th last month. We had a great welcome here at every station, the people loaded us with chocolates and cigarettes, also at Beue, where we got off the train and had breakfast. The English people who were staying there waited on us. We are very comfortable here, and I am sharing a room with a fellow prisoner. The window looks onto the Alps, and it is a beautiful view, just like Paradise after Germany. If it were not for the parcels the boys would be in a terrible condition there.

How is Robert? Is he still at the front? Let Crissie and Jessie know I have been exchanged. Is Maggie’s husband still in France? I have not heard from Willie for quite a time, but heard he was discharged.

Well, father, I will write again soon. I don’t feel just up to writing much yet. Love to all, Your son, Harry.”

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