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Being German-Canadian (3 September 1914)

Several Waterloo Region newspapers raised questions regarding the region’s German heritage and the implications that heritage would have on the war effort. As the war proceeded, local newspapers addressed the loyalty questions that surrounded German-Canadians which suggests that this was a genuine attempt to recognize these individuals as citizens and not a form of propaganda. This article outlines the magnificence of modern Germany and the rich heritage German-Canadians had. It returns to the issue of loyalty by stating that British democracy and Canadian values have made a more wholesome society than Germany, stating, “is there a freer country under the sun than Canada?” This article concludes by urging those of German background to become immersed in Canadian society and support the cause of the allied nations, as they should as Canadian citizens.

(“German-Canadians“ Elmira Signet, 3 September 1914)



Hespeler Women’s Patriotic League (3 September 1914)

This was the second meeting of the Hespeler Women’s Patriotic League. After much discussion it was decided that the women of Hespeler would knit sweaters, cuffs and belts for the recently departed volunteers. Since the war was declared eighteen residents of Hespeler had gone to Valcatier for training. During this meeting it was announced that Hespeler was to contribute men to the Canadian Second Contingent. This announcement strengthened the Local Mother’s League’s resolve to continue to supply clothing for volunteers. Roughly $4.25 was donated to the league, along with materials for textile production, to aid their efforts.

(“Hespeler Women’s Patriotic League“ Hespeler Herald, 3 September 1914)

Womens Patriots_2


Squint Column (3 September 1914)

The Hespeler Herald provided a column in their weekly issue that contained short satirical snippets about the news, along with brief propaganda promotions. Their 3 September issue included quips from the frontlines such as “the Belgians are certainly a bunch of busy little b’s” and “the Germans have occupied Huy, but they had a Huy of a time doing so.” This column also promoted the purchase of British and Canadian goods, to help stimulate the local economy. The Hespeler Herald provided a satirical outlet in an attempt to offset the overall serious tone of the newspaper’s articles that covered the war but was the only newspaper in the region which offered such a column.

(“Squint“ Hespeler Herald, 3 September 1914)



An Incident on the C.N. Railway (3 September 1914)

On this day, the first Canadian contingent left bound for Valcartier, Quebec, for further training. The group which departed from Guelph included several members of the town Hespeler. The Hespeler Herald reports eight different individuals from the area were onboard; Chas Beckman, Lloyd Beckman, John Hotson, C. Richard Winn, Thomas. Wilson, Thomas Woolley, George Bell and Dick McKen. Of those who enlisted, Dick was the only individual without prior military training. This is an example of the strict requirements needed to enlist in the early stages of the war. As the war progressed these rigid structures would dissolve due to the increased demand of manpower during a prolonged engagement.

A second contingent, formed shortly after the first group, faced a close call en route to Valcatier during a sabotage attempt. An iron bar was placed across the tracks in front of the eastbound troop train carrying men from the Waterloo Region to the camp. Luckily for the new recruits, the skirt on the engine of the train knocked the bar aside as the locomotive continued to steam at 40 mph. The perpetrator was never caught and no injuries were reported.

(“A Trip to Valcartier, Quebec,” Elmira Signet, 3 September 1914; “A Trip to Valcartier, Quebec,” Hespeler Herald3 September 1914)



Salvation Army (3 September 1914)

Hespeler contributed to multiple charitable causes during the first months of the war. These included groups such as; the Mothers League, the Patriotic Fund, the Belgian Relief Fund and the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army operated with the same goals as it does today of which is to reach out to the less fortunate and poor. The annual Harvest Festival Thanksgiving Fund was to be used to raise a total of $75.00 for the association. Sustenance was also recommended as a means of contribution. While this does showcase the wide array of foundations upheld by the people of Hespeler, the Patriotic Fund eventually took the forefront in this community as it had in the rest of the Waterloo Region.

(“Want to Raise $75,” Hespeler Herald, 3 September 1914)