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Canadian Recruitment (5 August 1914)

When the outbreak of the war became public in Canada, volunteers to support Great Britain were searched for immediately. The Parliament held a special session to discuss what to do about the war and to prepare the Canadian military.

On August 12, 1914 it was reported that the Canadian government had asked for 21,000 volunteers to send to Great Britain, but that more than 60,000 men had rushed to enlist. Therefore, there would be a medical examination included at the enlistment facilities in order to find the healthiest and strongest men. Also, recruits would be divided into three groups: 1) single men; 2) married men; and 3) fathers with children. New recruits would be chosen from those who enlisted in that order.

The paper also reported that Canada had bought two submarines, which they would provide to the British navy. Canadian soldiers would leave for training in about two weeks, at which point they would meet at Quebec and then travel to England. The first Canadian troops landing in Great Britain were announced in the issue of October 14, 1914. The British government was pleased with the troops, but asked Canada to send more money to purchase military equipment as well. By October 21, thirty young people from Berlin had volunteered for the second Canadian contingent, and Berlin had raised $896,726 for the Patriotic Fund.


BJ-1914-08-05-Canadian Recruitment

(“Die kanadische Regierung…”, Berliner Journal, 5 August 1914; „Kurze Lokalnotizen“, Berliner Journal, 21 October 1914; „Die Freiwilligen für das dritte Kontingent…“, Berliner Journal, 3 February 1915)


Call for Volunteer Nurses (6 August 1914)  

On 6 August, the Canadian National Nurses Association made the call for volunteer nurses. Women who were willing to perform their duty to the empire on the field of battle and wherever else they were needed were asked to answer this call. Only those who were prepared for such a duty were asked to register their names with Miss Rodgers, the Superintendent of the Berlin & Waterloo Hospital, or Miss Masters, the Secretary of the Graduate Nurses’ Association in the Waterloo Region. By 8 August, five young women from the region had offered their services and reported to Miss Masters. The women would join the volunteer Red Cross Society in overseas service with the first contingent.

(“Volunteer Nurses Wanted for War Duty,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 6 August 1914; “Five have Volunteered,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 8 August 1914; “Five have Volunteered,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 13 August 1914)

Volunteer Nurses


Berlin Band Concert This Evening (6 August 1914)  

Life proceeded normally in Waterloo region for the first few days after war was declared. Waterloo region’s industries continued to bustle, and so did their festivities. On 6 August, the Berlin City Band played in the Market Square. They performed many traditional German, Czech, Italian and British songs. What is important to note about their program is the emergence of songs like “The Volunteers” with its patriotic message. As the month progressed, patriotic songs became more prominent in band concerts across the region in response to the war. This demonstrated the region’s urge to display patriotism and their support of the British Empire during the war.

(“Band Concert This Evening,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 6 August 1914; “Patriotic Band Concert,” Ayr News, 13 August 1914; “Band Will Play Tonight,” Ayr News, 20 August 1914; “Concert a Fine One,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 27 August 1914.)


Band Concert


Ontario Offers to Vaccinate Troops (11 August 1914)  

The Ontario government offered to contribute to the preparation of the Canadian Forces by bearing the cost to vaccinate the First Contingent. Typhoid and enteric fever had resulted in approximately 8200 deaths during the South African War. It was hoped that vaccination against typhoid, before Canadians went overseas, would save Canadians from a similar fate during this war.

The Department of Health in Ontario began preparations for a system of anti-typhoid vaccination to be carried out by the end of the month. This would require many health care professionals and a large amount of the serum. This was seen as a way for the province to demonstrate its support of the Dominion and by extension the motherland, and hopefully to help protect Canadian soldiers.

(“Offers Vaccine for Troops,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 13 August 1914.)



Raising Funds for the War Effort (11 August 1914)  

On 11 August, a suggestion was made in various localities across Canada, to establish a Patriotic Fund much like the one that had been established during the South African War. During the South African war, approximately $500,000 was raised to provide relief to the families of men who were at the front and men who had taken sick or been wounded during their service. Almost $150,000 of this money was never paid out, and it was suggested that this sum form the beginning of the new Patriotic Fund. Individuals, companies, and communities would then be asked to raise more money for the fund.

In addition to considering another patriotic fund, Canadians also started raising a fund for a Canadian Hospital ship. On 11 August, the British Admiralty accepted the offer made by the women of Canada to provide a Hospital Ship for the British Army. In the Waterloo Region, the Princess of Wales Chapter of the Daughters of the Empire explained that it was the desire of the “women of Canada to equip a Hospital ship to be placed at the disposal of the Admiralty.” Anyone wishing to donate to the fund could do so at Roos’ and Swaisland’s Drug Stores in Berlin and at E.M. Devitt’s Drug Store in Waterloo. The press would publish any donation made at these locations.

(“Would Join Force,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 11 August 1914, “To Raise Funds for Canadian Hospital Ship,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 11 August 1914, “Hospital Ship is Accepted,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 11 August 1914, “Hospital Ship is Accepted,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 12 August 1914)


Raising Funds for the War Effort (11 August 1914)



Displays of Patriotism in Berlin, Ontario (11 August 1914)  

On 11 August, acting Mayor W. E. Gallagher gave orders for the City Hall flag to be hoisted, so that there would be no question in the minds of visitors where the Berlin, Ontario’s loyalty laid during the war. The City Hall flag was a Union Jack, which would be flown to demonstrate Berlin’s loyalty to the British crown. The flag would fly in Berlin until the war was over. Waterloo and Hespeler followed suit and flew their Union Jack flags as well.

Similar acts of patriotism were displayed elsewhere in the region. Patriotic Church services were held in Berlin, Waterloo, and surrounding communities. Additionally, C.E. Swaisland placed a patriotic display in the window of his bookstore. In the center he placed a portrait of King George V and covered the rest of the window with flags and other military symbols and articles to represent the artillery and infantry. A portrait of Canada’s Governor-General, the Duke of Connaught, was also displayed. The Berlin Daily Telegraph and Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph proclaimed the window display the most fitting for the current crisis. It is evident that citizens of Waterloo Region wanted to demonstrate their patriotism in a visible way.

(“Ordered the City Hall Flag Hoisted,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 11 August 1914; “Ordered the City Hall Flag Hoisted,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914; “Where is the Town Flag,” Hespeler Herald, 27 August 1914; “Fine Patriotic Window Display,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 11 August 1914; “Fine Patriotic Window Display,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 13 August 1914; “Patriotic Services on Sunday,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 15 August 1914.)


Displays of Patriotism in Berlin, Ontario (11 August 1914)


Cannot Buy German Goods (11 August 1914)  

As a result of the war with Germany, the Canadian Government prohibited any importation of goods from Germany into the country. This resulted in a sudden shift in the Canadian economy since Canada’s trade with Germany in the past included millions of dollars worth of imports, including printing, lithography, drugs, calendars, jewelry, silks, ornaments, toys and other novelties. Stores in the Waterloo Region had been waiting for shipments from Germany that would now never arrive. This issue was amplified when all mail and correspondence was halted with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Luxembourg.

The loss of these goods would mean that Canadian manufacturers and merchants needed to start producing these goods themselves and fill the holes left in the market. Many manufacturers were already making many of the goods that were normally imported from Germany, but the German goods proved popular because of their lower price. Despite the fact that Canadian manufacturers would be able to provide alternatives, drug stores worried that they would run out of certain drugs, while customers worried about the availability of Christmas novelties and jewelry that were normally imported from Germany and Austria.

(“Cannot Buy German Goods,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 11 August 1914; “Cannot buy German Goods,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914 “How Berlin is Effected by the War,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 11 August 1914; “How Twin City is Effected by the War,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914; “Canada’s Trade with Germany at an End,” Elmira Signet, 13 August 1914; “No Mail For Germany, Austria or Luxemerg,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 14 August 1914;  Visual:



Two young girls who pose with a doll and carriage. With trade with Germany traded, families in Waterloo Region and across Canada wondered where they would get toys for the 1914 Christmas.



22 Volunteers from Berlin (12 August 1914)  

Captain B. Osborne and twenty-two members of the “C” squadron, Grey’s Horse, volunteered and were accepted for overseas service. Fourteen of these twenty-two men were Berlin locals, included twelve privates and Sergeant B. Mitchel and Captain B. Osborne. Initially, 28 men had volunteered from the squadron, but only 22 were even granted a medical exam. In addition to these men who volunteered, the region also reported that many British reservists, who resided in the Waterloo Region, were leaving for the front in the initial weeks of August.

Many Canadian men were turned away for lack of military experience or medical reasons, which explains why 63 percent of the First Contingent were British-born men who were either current or former British regulars. Therefore, the high proportion of volunteers with Anglo-Saxon last names, listed in the articles printed in the region, was not necessarily an indication that German-Canadians or other residents of Waterloo region were uninterested in military service and supporting the British Empire. The first contingent’s composition was a reflection of the enlistment requirements set by the Militia Department of Canada.

(“22 Volunteers Will Leave for Front,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 12 August 1914, “22 Volunteers Will Leave for Front,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914, “Berlin’s Volunteers Depart for the Front,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 20 August 1914, “Reservists for the Front” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 20 August 1914; “First Ayr Volunteer,” Ayr News, 20 August 1914; K. Radley, We lead, others follow: First Canadian Division, 1914-1918 (St. Catherine’s, ON: Vanwell Publishing, 2006), 46.)

22 Volunteers from Berlin (12 August 1914)



[1] “22 Volunteers Will Leave for Front,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914, p. 10.


Recruiting Ends (13 August 1914)  

On 13 August, Ottawa announced that on the evening of 12 August Canada reached their desired enlistment total. The heaviest levels of enlistment occurred in the west and in central and western Ontario. Too many men had been recruited and it would be the job of Colonel Samuel Hughes to decide how many men from each of the 200 districts would be mobilized. The officers for each regiment would be announced in the next few days, but there was still debate over who would be appointed as the commanding officer of the contingent.

Hughes was very satisfied with the levels of enlistment, even more so because it was all done voluntarily. There had been no effort by the Canadian government or the Militia Department, in Hughes’ eyes, to stir the country towards enlistment. Everyone who would proceed to Valcartier had enlisted by his own accord. In addition to these brave men, one hundred Canadian women would be going to the front to serve as Red Cross Nurses.

(“Recruiting Ends,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 13 August 1914, “Need is Exceeded,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 14 August 1914, “One Hundred Nurses to go From Canada,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 15 August 1914)

Recruiting Ends (13 August 1914)


Boy Scouts to Help in Preparations (13 August 1914)  

The Boy Scouts of Canada had been offering their services to the civil and military authorities since the beginning of August, increasingly so after war was declared on 4 August. Although the Dominion Council of the Canadian Boy Scots was unable to advise what exact way the organization should take part in the current crisis, Boy Scouts were reminded by the Canadian Government to help in anyway that they could.

The Boy Scouts of Canada were encouraged to follow the example of their brother scouts in the British Isles. The British Boy Scouts were assisting in the maintenance of the police, the coast guard and the post office services by guarding telegraph lines and serving as messengers for the Red Cross Society. Canada’s Dominion Council encouraged the Canadian Scouts to aid in war preparations in any way that they could.

(“Encourages Boy Scouts,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 14 August 1914, “Encourages Boy Scouts,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 20 August 1914; Photo courtesy of the Canadian War Museum:



 Boy scouts in front of the patriotic Fund’s Ottawa Headquarters in Ottawa in 1914.