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Ontario Agriculture Ravaged by Army Worm (23 July 1914)  

Army worms, a pestilence that attacks cereal crops, were making their way through the farms of southwestern Ontario in the summer of 1914. The army worms, if left to multiply, moved in large ‘armies’ through fields eating everything in their path. While Waterloo region was keeping a watchful eye on the increasing tensions in Europe, the army worm issue was at a forefront of local concerns during the month of July.

On 23 July, the Waterloo Chronicle- Telegraph wrote:

“The army worm is today marching through the county, laying bare a path several miles wide and doing damage the extent of which it is difficult to estimate.”

At this point in the summer, the armyworm had attacked all of the surrounding counties, including Oxford and Brant, and had reached the borders of Waterloo County. The county remained hopeful that they could prevent extensive damage with the help of six agriculture experts who were graduates of the Ontario Agricultural College located in Guelph. With most of southwestern Ontario affected by the pestilence, wheat and other grains were expected to increase in price.

(“Army Worms Cause Much Worry,” Waterloo Chronicle- Telegraph, 23 July 1914; “How to Fight Army Worm,” Hespeler Herald, 30 July 1914)



Stock Markets Begin to Close (29 July 1914)  

Austria declared war on Servia on 28 July, Russia began to mobilize during the evening of 28 July, and the world waited anxiously to see if Germany would begin mobilization. As more countries got involved in the conflict, the Stock Markets became more strained. On 29 July, Stock markets in Liverpool, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam closed until further notice.

(“Mobilization of Russian Troops Diminishes Chances of Maintaining Peace,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 July 1914; “Bottom out of Stocks,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 July 1914)


Stock Markets Begin to Close (29 July 1914)



London, England Stock Market Closes (31 July 1914)  

On the morning of 31 July, the Stock Exchanges in New York and London did not open. Although the New York exchange stated that the closure was only for the day, the London exchange was closed until further notice. Across England the public rushed to banks to exchange their bank notes for gold. Panic ensued around the world as people feared the effect the current war was going to have on world economy.

The Berlin Daily Telegraph told their readers to “JUST KEEP on working, Canada is not on the war map.” Although there was concern over the state of the international stock markets, Canadians were told to continue to work and keep the economy going, because Canada would be on the job when “Mother” called for help. Canada, and its cities, would support Great Britain if and when they were asked.

(“No Mobilization Order was Issued in Germany Today as was Expected,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 31 July 1914; “Alternative Currents,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 July 1914.)


London, England Stock Market Closes (31 July 1914)


Britain Needs Canadian Wheat (1 August 1914)  

On 1 August, the British War Office asked the Canadian Government how much wheat Canada could send Britain. Great Britain needed to rely on a Canadian wheat supply because the Russian wheat crop could not be counted on like it had been in previous years. Later in the month, Britain requested that they receive as much of the harvest as possible, that Canada did not export grains to countries outside of the empire and that it set reasonable prices.

Traditionally, Canada was not much more than self-sustaining in most of her foodstuffs, with the exceptions of grain production. Canada recognized that Great Britain would become very dependent on Canada for her grain supply, a challenge that Canada was prepared to meet. In addition to grains, Canada also increased her exports of bacon, cheese, and fish to Britain. Canada estimated the upcoming harvest to yield 180,000,000 bushels, which meant that 80,000,000 bushels could be exported. Other members of the British Empire, such as Australia and New Zealand, were also expected to send as much as foodstuff as possible.

(“Canada Will Send Regiment to Front,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 1 August 1914; “Can Feed Motherland With Bread and Cheese,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 6 August 1914; “War News,” Elmira Signet, 13 August 1914.)


Britain Needs Canadian Wheat (1 August 1914)




Boot and Shoe Manufacturers to Convene in Berlin, Ontario (5 August 1914)  

On 5 August, just one day after war was declared, a convention of boot and shoe manufacturers of Ontario met in Berlin, Ontario. Manufacturers from Waterloo Region, including Waterloo, Berlin and Preston, as well as others from areas such as Brampton, Aurora and Toronto attended. The convention addressed the prospects that the war held for the province’s shoe trade. These manufacturers were aware that the war would likely result in an increased demand for their products. As a result, the province’s manufacturers met to discuss price regulations and price increases, foreseeing an increase in the price of leather due to wartime conditions. The local Breithaupt family, the owners and operators of the Breithaupt Leather Co., entertained the visitors at the Berlin Country Club.

The shoe manufacturers predicted that: “Soldiers on the march will wear out a pair of shoes in a month.”

The boots that needed to be made for the Canadian Forces would be made from a pattern that had proved satisfactory for Canadians in the South African War. It would later be realized that the boots issued to Canadian Soldiers in 1914 could not withstand marches on metaled roads, the wet weather of England, and trench conditions. As a result, a new model was introduced, which came to be known as the 1915 Canadian Variety Boot.

(“Boot and Shoe Manufacturers Convene Here,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 6 August 1914, Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1962), xiii; Visual:



These were the 1915 Canadian Variety Boot worn by the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.


Canada Can Feed the Motherland (6 August 1914)  

By 6 August, Canadians were adamant that they could help the motherland by feeding her people. Prior to war, two-thirds to three quarters of Great Britain’s food supply was actually imported goods from Canada, the United States, India, Argentina, and Australia. Canada traditionally supplied one third of Great Britain’s wheat and flour.

There was normally only enough food in the United Kingdom at one time to feed its inhabitants for a maximum of six to seven weeks, meaning that if Britain did not receive its imports, it would likely be starved into submission. It was up to Canada, and the other members of the British Empire, to help make sure that that did not happen. Canada would supply Great Britain with grains, bacon, fish and cheese, but would not be able to supply much more than that. Canada’s foodstuff contributions were part of her patriotic and imperialistic duties to Great Britain.

(“Can Feed Motherland with Bread and Cheese,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 6 August 1914, “Britain is Quiet,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 6 August 1914; Visual:






The War’s Impact on Canada’s Agriculture (6 August 1914)  

Immediately after the war was declared economists, and many others, became concerned with how the war would affect the Canadian market. By 6 August, there was already a price increase in sugar and flour, which were two of the main necessities of Canadian homes. It was also predicted that the prices of other foodstuff and clothing would increase in the near future.

On 6 August, the Berlin Daily Telegraph reported that Mr. J. Uffelman, of the Ontario Seed Company, stated that while the war would not affect the 1914 harvest, next year’s harvest might be affected. This was because the war might potentially prevent the importation of certain varieties of seeds, especially those that were normally imported from Germany. This would affect the Waterloo Region, where some farmers grew a European variety of rye.

(“Prices for Foodstuffs Increasing,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 6 August 1914)


The War’s affect on Canada’s Agriculture (6 August 1914)


Canada’s Gift to Britain (9 August 1914)  

In addition to Canada’s commitment to export as much as possible to Britain, the Canadian Government also offered Britain a gift. Soon after the war was declared, Canada offered to send Britain a gift of one million bags of flour, to be placed at the disposal of the British Government.

In response to this offer, the Colonial Secretary of the Imperial Government stated:

“On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, his Majesty’s Government accepts with gratitude the splendid and welcome gift of flour from Canada … We can never forget the generosity and promptitude of this gift and the patriotism from which it springs.”

This gift was worth an estimated three million dollars. Parliament would be asked to vote for the necessary funds and once the funding was secured, the flour would be shipped to the United Kingdom in September.

(“Canada’s Gift to Britain,” Elmira Signet, 20 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.