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: Thomas Yateman Dies at Belleville Hospital, Belleville Thanked for $10,000 to British Red Cross, Presentation at Knitting Circle

The Intelligencer December 19, 1917 (page 2)

“Answered the Last Call. Private Thomas Yateman, of this city, who for months has been a cripple, owing to wounds received on the battle field at Ypres, this morning passed away at the Belleville hospital. Deceased who was a son of Mr. Thomas Yateman enlisted and went overseas with the first Canadian contingent. At the battle of Ypres he was terribly wounded, in the side and back, and his spine was injured to such an extent that he was paralyzed from the shoulders to his feet.

After remaining some time in a hospital in England he was brought home and has since been an inmate of the Belleville hospital. Since his arrival home an operation was performed and by the removal of some pieces of shrapnel he was able to use his arms, but he was never able to use the lower portion of his body.

He bore his suffering without a murmur like the brave soldier he was. His father is at present overseas with the Forestry Battalion, also another brother. Another brother was recently discharged. The family have certainly done their duty for King and country, and at the present time the heartfelt sympathy of all citizens will be extended to them in their hour of affliction.”

[Note: Gunner Thomas Andrew Yatman died on December 19, 1917. He is commemorated on Page 354 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer December 19, 1917 (page 3)

“Belleville’s contribution of $10,000 to the British Red Cross Fund has been acknowledged as follows: Parliament Buildings, Toronto, December 13, 1917. David Price Esq., Treasurer, Belleville, Ont. Dear Sir,—We are in receipt of your favor of the 15th instant with the enclosed contribution of $10,000.00 for the British Red Cross, which has already been acknowledged by the Provincial Treasurer.

I would ask you to kindly convey to the members of the City Council, the teachers and pupils of the schools, the members of the Women’s Organizations and to all those who so generously contributed to this amount, the thanks of His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, the Organization of Resources Committee, which is in charge of this campaign for Ontario, and the British Red Cross, for the response which has been made to this appeal.

You have helped to make Ontario’s contribution this year more splendid than ever before, and you may have the consciousness that the gratitude of our brave men overseas is going out continually to all those who are helping to make the work of the British Red Cross possible. Yours faithfully, Albert H. Abbott, Secretary.”

The Intelligencer December 19, 1917 (page 7)

“The Nile Green Knitting Circle held their regular weekly meeting at the home of Mrs. Barlow, Forin Street, about seventeen members being present. At the close of the usual routine business Mrs. Joly called the members to order and the secretary read a short address to the convenor, Mrs. J. Waddell, South Ann Street, and Mrs. Joly handed her a dainty server. Mrs. Barlow, secretary, was also presented with a beautiful basket of flowers. Both ladies were almost speechless with surprise, but managed to say a few words of thanks.

Following is the address to Mrs. J. Waddell: As the season of peace and good-will draws near we feel that we would like to let you know how much we appreciate your kind and willing service as convenor of our Circle. We feel sure, with you, as with us, it has indeed been a labor of love to work for our dear boys who are overseas fighting for home and freedom.

We ask you to accept this little gift, and when peace has been proclaimed and we are done knitting socks for the soldiers now so far from home, we hope it will remind you of the very pleasant Tuesday afternoons which we have enjoyed in the various homes of the members of the Nile Green Knitting Circle.”

100 Years Ago: Vote Passes for Union Government and E. Guss Porter, Christmas Cheer for Poor Children, Soldiers Voting in Trench and Hospital

The Intelligencer December 18, 1917 (page 1)

“Union Government and E. Guss Porter. There was great rejoicing in Belleville last night over the triumph of Union Government and the election of E. Guss Porter, K.C., and up until midnight there were many sounds of celebration and cheers of the victors. …

The City Hall was the mecca of Mr. Porter’s supporters and here a telegraph instrument had been installed and the returns national and local received and announced, interspersed with speeches from well-known citizens. …

A feature of the City Hall gathering was the presence of many returned soldiers in uniform, several of them making snappy speeches. The soldiers had a grievance and were highly indignant at the treatment they received in various polling booths in the city. The charge was made from the platform, that agents for Mr. Graham in the polling booths, acting under written instructions from Graham head quarters, challenged every returned soldier and required him to take an oath that he was entitled to vote. This of course resulted in such ballots not being counted, but placed in a separate envelope for judicial action later if necessary. The story occasioned general indignation as it was felt that to challenge the vote of a returned soldier was going entirely too far.

The soldiers were so enthusiastic for Union Government and Mr. Porter that they insisted upon drawing the victorious candidate about the city in a large sleigh. Mr. Porter can boast of a ride behind a splendid brigade of the heroes of Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Courcelette and other fields of carnage and honor where the name of Canada was written in undying letters of blood upon the history of the world.”

The Intelligencer December 18, 1917 (page 3)

“Christmas Cheer For Poor Little Kiddies. The following letter from the Superintendent of the Children’s Aid Society needs no comment—it is an appeal for a happy Xmas for the kiddies who are becoming good citizens of Canada through the offices of the Children’s Aid Society. Will Santa Claus come to the Shelter with his team of Rheindeers and bags of beautiful presents, is the haunting joy and fear of the little ones there, while the Superintendent wonders whether the Christmas spirit will send needed funds to keep the work going as it should go.

The Intelligencer will be pleased to accept any sums for the Children’s Shelter Santa Claus Fund and give due acknowledgment for same in these columns.

Dig down, now folks, ‘every mickle makes a muckle,’ and if this don’t move you read Dicken’s Christmas Carol and see what happened. ‘Old Scrooge’ who was transformed by the blessed Christmas spirit which is worth any amount of money to acquire.

All together now for the kiddies’ Santa Claus. Here is the appeal from the Children’s Shelter.

Children’s Aid Society City of Belleville and Hastings County To The Editor of The Intelligencer. Dear Sir:—Permit me to ask on behalf of our Management Board if you would kindly open a Santa Claus Fund through the columns of your paper, on behalf of the Children’s Shelter. We are in urgent need of assistance so that we can help the helpless little ones. We would like to raise one thousand dollars, $1,000.00 so that we can start the New Year with a clean sheet.

You know that owing to the dreadful war everything has gone up in price and to meet our present requirements we urgently need liberal assistance. The society is supported by voluntary contributions and we have to look to the generous hearted friends to help us to carry on this great work of saving the children. Will you kindly help us to bring our needs before the public for we feel if they only had the chance given them they would respond liberally.

Thanking you in anticipation of your kind favor on behalf of the Management Board. I remain. Yours sincerely, Thos. D. Ruston.”

The Intelligencer December 18, 1917 (page 4)

“Soldiers Voting In Trench and Hospital. Canadian Army Headquarters in the Field, via London. As I cabled some days ago, voting has been extended right into the firing trenches, while the gunners have voted beside their guns.

The most dramatic of all the incidents of the war election to date has been the securing of votes of men wounded in action. …  the deputy presiding officers, scrutineers and poll clerks have brought their ballot boxes with them to the advanced dressing stations and voted men as they lay in bed, men who were so weak from suffering that it was all they could do to mark their ballots.

The election officers have taken their boxes with them on the tramways behind the lines and have voted the men as they worked. In the same way they have gone through the frontline trenches, giving men in the firing line their opportunity to exercise the franchise.”

100 Years Ago: Thomas Yateman Returns to Hospital, Melburn Sprague Passes Civil Service Exam, Alex McFarlane Killed in Action, Memorial Service for Martin Deibert, Letter of Thanks for Socks

The Intelligencer December 17, 1917 (page 2)

“Returned to Hospital. Mr. Thos. Yateman, who was for so long in the General Hospital here, and has been for the past two or three months in Euclid Hall, Home for Incurables in Toronto, has returned to Belleville Hospital.”

The Intelligencer December 17, 1917 (page 2)

“Passed Civil Service Exam. M. P. Sprague, who went overseas with the 8th C.M.R. was wounded and taken prisoner and lost one of his legs in his country’s service, has successfully passed the qualifying examination for the outside division of the Civil Service held at Hamilton. He is a son of Mr. E. B. Sprague, 87 North Front street.”

The Intelligencer December 17, 1917 (page 2)

“An Afflicted Family. Pte. Alex. McFarlane, son of Mrs. [Elizabeth] McFarlane, of Marmora has been reported killed in action. Two brothers had previously been seriously injured, Michael losing his sight and Joseph being discharged as unfit for service, owing to wounds in his arm and leg. The bereaved family have the sympathy of the community in their sorrow.”

[Note: Private Alexander Mitchell McFarlane died on November 9, 1917. He is commemorated on Page 282 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer December 17, 1917 (page 2)

“Memorial Services. At Holloway Street Methodist Church last evening an impressive memorial service was held for Martin Deibert of this city, who gave his life for King and Country. The R. T. of T., of which he was a member, were out in goodly numbers, and assisted in the service. The pastor, Rev. J. N. Clarry had charge of the service.”

The Intelligencer December 17, 1917 (page 7)

“Received Socks from Knitting Circle. Somewhere in France, Nov. 6, 1917. Mrs. H. J. Sharpe, 43 Hillside St., Belleville. Dear Mrs. Sharpe,—I received a few days ago a bundle of socks from the R. T. knitting circle and on behalf of my chums and myself who greatly benefitted by them, I thank you. The ladies at home have helped us a great deal, even more than you realize and it is very much appreciated.

The rainy season is on again and it is very hard on socks. It is so muddy, but thanks to the ladies at home, we are very seldom in need. Wishing your circle every success in their work and may there be no need to continue it much longer. I am yours truly. (Sgd) A. L. Yerex.”

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