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Berlin Companies Benefit from Large War Contract (7 January 1915)

While the efforts to supply armies in the field caused local concern over rising prices, the war economy also brought commerce to the Waterloo Region. On January 7th, the Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph reported that Ottawa had awarded a contract to McBrine & Co., a local luggage manufacturer, for the production of saddles for the Russian Army. Leather for the saddles would be provided by another Berlin firm, the Lang Tanning Company. The contract was reported as bringing $100,000 of revenue to the region. In March, McBrine and Co. would receive another major contract to manufacture artillery harnesses for horse-drawn field artillery.

(“Berlin Firm gets big Order for Army Saddles,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 7 January 1915; “Will Make 1,500 Harness Sets for Artillery,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 4 March 1915.)




Recruiting for the Third Contingent (11 January 1915)

The British War Office issued orders that the counties of Oxford, Wellington, Perth, Waterloo, Huron and Bruce contribute recruits to the 34th Battalion.
Galt, within one week, enlisted 135 out of the necessary 200 to fulfill its allotment. Although Waterloo South (which included Galt) was a little smaller than Waterloo North (which included Berlin), they had far greater enlistment numbers for the 34th Battalion in January 1915.
Of the men who enlisted in January and went overseas with the 34th Battalion, three times as many enlisted in Galt than in Berlin. A large reason for this difference was the ethnic makeup of both cities. Berlin was the German capital of Canada, so much of the population was of German descent (either born in Germany or with German ancestry), but of those who enlisted in both Galt and Berlin, over 85% were immigrants from the British Isles. Only 10% identified as being from Canada.

(“Recruiting in Berlin Started on Monday,” Waterloo Chronicle, 14 January 1915.; “Galt Enrolls 135 for 3rd Contingent,” Waterloo Chronicle, 21 January 1915.;
Visual: “Recruits Wanted,” Ayr News, 7 January 1915.)Ayr-1915-01-07-RecruitsWanted


The Situation of German Editors (20 January 1915)

In January 1915, the editors of the Berliner Journal published an article about the difficulties of being the editors of a German newspaper in Canada. They were well aware of their tenuous situation and made it clear that as naturalized citizens they had to show loyalty to their “adoptive homeland”. Therefore, they emphasized that they only published dispatches which were officially confirmed, and were trying to stay neutral. As a result, the newspaper had to face criticism from parts of the German community which accused them of being anti-German. The editors explained their position and stated that living in a country which had always treated them well and provided good living conditions meant they had to show loyalty to their new home. Nevertheless, they wanted to preserve their German heritage. By clearly taking up a neutral or pro-Canadian position they avoided censorship.

BJ-1915-01-20-The Situation of German Editors

(“Der Stand deutscher Zeitungs-Herausgeber” Berliner Journal, 20 January 1915)


Waterloo County Manufacturers Organize to Increase Wartime Trade (21 January 1915)

Waterloo Region businesses were alert to the opportunities for trade offered by wartime demand for goods by governments and the markets left underserved by the disruption in European trade. The Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph reported on January 21st that a number of local manufacturers attended a meeting at Waterloo City Hall at the behest of the local Board of Trade. The meeting was called after a positive response by representatives of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who agreed to provide increased distribution of goods from the county in order to help manufacturers “for both ‘patriotic and selfish reasons.’”

The meeting itself was attended by over a hundred representatives of the region’s manufacturers. Of particular interest was the gap left by the end of German and Austrian exports to hostile countries, but also in the continued securing of government contracts. The businessmen agreed that united action was the best course for securing new foreign and government contracts, and appointed two delegates to form a central committee to “secure information from the Dominion Government, the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, and foreign governments on articles most needed, and how Waterloo County manufacturers could supply the needs.”

(“Waterloo County Manufacturers Alert for Increased Export Trade,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 28 January 1915)



German Air Raids on England Begin (21 January 1915)

The Great War was the first major conflict in which airborne vehicles played a significant role. This included the use of airplanes on the battlefield, but also bombing raids by airships. On January 19th, Germans made the first of many air raids against England itself, beginning with a raid on Norfolk County, causing several deaths and damaging homes and buildings. Although the raids were expected, they still caused considerable panic in England itself.

The unsettling nature of this new type of warfare caused concern as far away as Waterloo County, Canada. On January 21st, the Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph reported on the raid with mild sensationalism. The raids were presented as direct attempts on the lives of the royal family, who kept a county residence in one of the targeted areas: “German aircraft made their long-threatened raid on England last night and attempted to blow up with bombs the King’s royal residence in Sandringham, County Norfolk.” In fact, the raids were supposed to take place much farther north, but were diverted due to poor weather conditions.

(“Air Raid at Last,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 21 January 1915; Christopher Cole and E. F. Cheeseman, The Air Defence of Great Britain, 1914-1918 (London: Putnam, 1984); “A Target Such as Our British Airmen Aim at When They Make a Raid Upon a German Zeppelin Shed,” Elmira Signet, 21 January 1915.)



“How soldiers die” (3 February 1915)

A war correspondent from Budapest told the following moving stories from overseas.

A pale Austrian lieutenant came to the dressing station, didn’t look wounded, waited until he stood in front of the doctor and then died immediately, because he was shot right in the heart. A Russian volunteer was carried by two Hungarian soldiers, but one could see that it was too late for him. His last words were: “I was never angry with you, I never hated you. Why have you murdered me?…Oh God, I want to live.” On the battle field lay the wounded and the dead soldiers. Army chaplains went around and blessed the men. With the help of a mirror, a doctor identified the still living wounded and brought them to the dressing station. The coldness relieved the pain of the dying people. The dead were interred and the soldiers gave them all little farewell presents on their graves before they sang a song.

BJ-1915-02-03-How soldiers die

(„Wie Soldaten sterben“, Berliner Journal, 3 February 1915)


“Comradeship” (10 February 1915)

Two German officers wrote letters to the parents of a dead soldier. The Berliner Journal printed these as an answer to the English propaganda messages that only fear of punishment was preventing a riot in the German army. Rather, the letters showed evidence of true comradeship.

In the first letter, his family is told that the soldier was wounded and died days later. He was very popular among the soldiers because of his character and his braveness. He received the Iron Cross very early and his death touched the soldiers, doctors and officers deeply. The second letter also spoke of his kind and noble character and that his comrades all loved him very much.


(„Kameradschaft“, Berliner Journal, 10 February 1915)


Lies about suspected German abominations (10 February 1915)

At the beginning of the war, the British government told lies about suspected German abominations. Later investigations showed that this wasn’t true. Thousands of Belgians who stayed in Britain at that time were not aware of any abominations by the Germans. The Belgians did suffer, but because of the consequences of the war, not from Germans who specifically meant them harm. The war itself, continued the article, was an abomination that everyone should want to stop.

BJ-1915-02-10-Lies about suspected German abominations

(„‘Greuel‘ waren erlogen, sagt die englische Regierung“, Berliner Journal, 10 February 1915)


The Department of Agriculture Campaigns for Local Farmers to Increase Production for the War Effort (11 February 1915)

As the war dragged into 1915, the Dominion government encouraged Canadian farmers to increase their rates of production to feed Imperial forces. Advertisements for the government’s “Patriotism and Production” program began to appear in Waterloo Region newspapers in mid-February and continued through March. The goal of the campaign was to persuade Canadian farmers to produce higher volumes of staple foods and to preserve livestock for breeding.

The campaign also included government-sponsored, agricultural conferences, held throughout Canada. These conferences were educational in nature, including lectures from agricultural specialists, but were primarily aimed at reinforcing the campaign’s message to farmers. The Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph reported on one such meeting at the Waterloo Town Hall which included talks by local agriculturalists on dairy production, sustainable livestock practices, and even the state of agriculture in Australia and New Zealand. The impact of these conferences on local practices may have been limited, however. The correspondent noted that both daytime and evening sessions of the conference were poorly attended.

(“Patriotism and Production: The Empire’s Call to Farmers,” Elmira Signet, 11 February 1915; “Waterloo County Farmers Urged to Increase Production,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 11 February 1915.)



“‘God is with the Germans’, says archbishop from Cologne” (17 February 1915)

The pastoral address of Archbishop von Hartmann from Cologne was printed in the “Kölnische Volkszeitung”. It said that God would be with the heroic German fighters in the west, in the east, on the water and in the air. The archbishop said God would be with the German nation which was willing to endure the pain of war because it trusted in God to provide victory in the end.

BJ-1915-02-17-God is with the Germans, says archbishop from Cologne

(„‘Gott ist mit den Deutschen‘, sagt Erzbischof von Köln“, Berliner Journal, 17 February 1915)