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.

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A New Home for Deseronto’s Archives

Archives room in Deseronto Public Library Today the Deseronto Archives transferred 100 boxes of material from its former location in Deseronto Public Library to the Community Archives here in Belleville. The Community Archives [...]

Discover ‘Discover’!

Now you can explore the holdings of the Community Archives from home, if you have access to the internet. We are beginning to share descriptions of the materials we hold through a new service, which [...]

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: Spanish Influenza Invades Toronto, Ad for Gillette, George Conboy Wounded, Sacred Concert at Griffin’s Opera House, Another Gasless Sunday, No Spanish Influenza in Belleville

The Intelligencer September 30, 1918 (page 1)

“Spanish ‘Flu’ Invades Toronto. Toronto. The so-called ‘Spanish influenza’ which has been very prevalent in the United States and Eastern Canada for some weeks past, has apparently invaded Toronto in a very mild form. To all appearances hundreds of cases have developed during the past three or four days, but no deaths have been reported from it locally.

While the epidemic is very active throughout the city, it is not severe and this fact is thought to be largely due to the measures which people themselves took to avoid getting it. The largest number of cases which have so far been reported are in the Royal Air Force of which unit about 150 men are in the Base Hospital, no less than fifty being admitted yesterday.”

The Intelligencer September 30, 1918 (page 3)

Ad for Gillette

“For Thrift. To win the war, Money is needed. So that—Thrift is a War Service. Every dollar you save instead of spending thoughtlessly, releases labour in some form—labour sorely needed for war purposes. Thrift is enforced in the use of many things today, such as flour, sugar, and coal, by the simple expedient of limiting the amount one may buy.

But thousands of extravagant habits flourish unchecked, and these are contributory hindrances to an early peace. Such habits are accomplices of the Kaiser. For instance, there is no excuse for a man hiring another man to shave him. It wastes time, money and vital labour. You can shave yourself better with a Gillette Safety Razor in five minutes.

Any jeweler, druggist, or hardware dealer will be glad to show you his assortment of Gillette Razors today. The price is five dollars.

Gillette Safety Razor Co. of Canada Limited.”

The Intelligencer September 30, 1918 (page 5)

“Corbyville Boy Wounded. Mr. Geo. F. Reed, of Corbyville, has received word that Pte. George Conboy, (No. 636107) has been wounded in the right ankle on August 28, on the Arras front. Pte. Conboy left Belleville with the 234th Battalion. He has been admitted to the hospital and is doing nicely.”

The Intelligencer September 30, 1918 (page 5)

“Pleasing Sacred Concert. Griffin’s Opera House was last night filled with an appreciative audience which assembled to hear a sacred concert given by the Fifteenth Regimental Band of this city. A silver collection was taken on behalf of the K. of C. hut campaign and upwards of $80 was realized. Previous to the commencement of the programme Mr. J. Laly, who is Chief Knight of the Belleville branch, gave a brief address, thanking the citizens of Belleville for their generous support towards the campaign just completed, also to those who assisted in the campaign and tag day. The results of the campaign he stated, were most gratifying.

The programme, which was thoroughly enjoyed, consisted of six selections by the band under the capable leadership of Bandmaster F. W. Robinson. Each number was rendered in a most capable manner and demonstrated that in the band the city has a first-class musical organization. …  Every feature of the program was all that could have been desired. The pleasing function was brought to a close by the rendering of the National Anthem.”

The Intelligencer September 30, 1918 (page 5)

“Still Saving Gasoline. The third ‘gasless’ Sunday was well observed in this vicinity yesterday and few cars were seen on the streets of Belleville except those on business.”

The Intelligencer September 30, 1918 (page 5)

“Watching for Spanish ‘Flu.’ While there are a number of cases of influenza in Belleville, under medical treatment, so far as known none of the cases are of the ‘Spanish’ influenza type.”


Nurses of World War I: Robertina Lee Thompson

Robertina Lee Thompson was born at the farm house on Concession 3, Lot 21 near Strathroy, Adelaide Township, Middlesex County, Ontario on June 24, 1889 daughter of George Thompson and Christina Lee.

She was educated locally, was a graduate of the Nursing School at Belleville on Dec 3, 1912 and the Divisional School of Military Instruction at Quebec City on March 29, 1915. Miss Thompson enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on May 5, 1915 at Kingston.

Lee Thompson

Height: 5’ 5”

Weight: 135lb

Age: 25

Nursing Sister Thompson served with the # 1 Canadian General Hospital at Étaples, France; she was united in marriage to Veteran Captain George Alexander James Bell at St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, London England on April 11, 1916 and resigned her commission on April 13, 1916. Mrs Bell returned to Canada setting sail in Oct 1917 aboard the S.S. Grampian and established herself in London, Ontario and raised her family, residing at 5 Ardaven Place.

Robertina Lee Bell died at the Victoria Hospital in London on Jan 19, 1963 aged 73 years 6 months 25 days. She is interred at Woodland Cemetery, Section QE, Row 31.

Grave marker for Lee Bell

100 Years Ago: Malcolm Linford French Killed in Action, Dr. Hastings Advises Rest and Isolation for Spanish Influenza, Letter of Sympathy for Alexander Beaton’s Mother, In Memoriam for Frederick Coburn, Ad for Sacred Concert, Poster for Thrift

The Intelligencer September 28, 1918 (page 1)

Malcolm Linford French

“Pte. Malcolm L. French only child of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert H. French, West Bridge Street, killed in action in France, Aug. 30th, 1918. Previous to enlisting he was a pupil of Belleville High School.”

The Intelligencer September 28, 1918 (page 1)

“If You Have the Flu Don’t Try to Fight It. Toronto. ‘If you feel any of the symptoms of influenza, whether of the Spanish, American or Canadian types, don’t fight it—go to bed.’ This was the advice given by Dr. Hastings when asked if he had any message for the citizens, in view of the prevalence of Spanish influenza in some of the cities of the United States, particularly Boston. ‘The great trouble is they think that they can fight the disease and stay up until symptoms of pneumonia develop.’ The doctor emphasized the importance of isolating persons suffering from influenza.’ ”

The Intelligencer September 28, 1918 (page 7)

“Government Sympathy. Mrs. Flora Beaton whose soldier son, Pte. Alexander Beaton, was killed in action September 2, has received a letter conveying the sympathy of the Dominion Government as follows: ‘The Prime Minister and members of the Government of Canada send their deepest sympathy in the bereavement which you have sustained.”

The Intelligencer September 28, 1918 (page 7)

“In Memoriam. Frederick Coburn. In loving memory of my beloved husband, who died of wounds, received in action, September 28th, 1915. Gone but not forgotten. WIFE.”

The Intelligencer September 28, 1918 (page 7)

Ad for sacred concert

“Sacred Concert. Griffin’s Opera House. Sunday Evening Sept. 29th 8.30 P.M. Given by XV Regt. Band, Under Direction of Mr. F. W. Robinson.

In Aid of K. of C. Army Hut Fund. Silver Collection.”

The Intelligencer September 28, 1918 (page 9)

Poster for thrift

“Kitchener was right when he said—’Either the Civilian population must go short of many things to which it is accustomed in times of peace or our armies must go short of munitions and other things indispensable to them.’

For the sake of your country and the boys ‘over there,’ spend cautiously. Think of what Lord Kitchener has said, and ask yourself first, ‘Is this something I really need or can I do without it?’

Published under the authority of the Minister of Finance of Canada.”

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