War effort included plenty of support from the home front

·4 min read

In war people often remember those who went off to battle and died to protect our freedoms, but what about those who stayed behind and helped from home.

Whether it be financial aid or physical, people have joined together for a cause larger than themselves.

Kathleen East, the local historian and volunteer researcher at the Grand Coteau Heritage and Cultural Centre, thought it would be interesting to look at those who stayed at home but still made an important contribution to the war effort.

“We thought it would be interesting to remember those who stayed in Shaunavon during World War One and helped by providing their services and donated money,” said East.

After the war broke out in July 1914, the citizens of Shaunavon wasted no time gathering and creating a local branch of the Canadian Patriotic Association in October 1914. A call for the organization was made in the October 15th issue of the Shaunavon Standard, which read: “To Hold Patriotic Meeting. There will be a public meeting at the town hall on Monday evening at 8 for the purpose of considering the organization of a branch of the Canadian Patriotic Association for the purpose of raising funds and generally co-operating in assisting to promote the interest of the United Kingdom. The main object will be to assist in the support of the families left dependent by the men who have gone to the front. This is an urgent cause. The movement is being carried on over the entire Dominion and it is time for Shaunavon to assist, however little in this matter. With the approach of winter the demand becomes an urgent one and all are requested to respond to the call, ladies especially invited to be present.”

This call was heard and quite quickly events started to take form to raise money for those in need across the sea in England and Belgium.

On March 3, 1915, a Patriotic Concert was held which managed to raise $394.00 for the cause. Soon after many other groups were formed and got to work doing what could be done to support those overseas.

A Women’s Patriotic Society was formed in March, headed by Mrs. M. M. Richardson.

“The women’s Patriotic Society raised money through food booths, Abrardee dance, Hallowe’en Social, and Hard Time Dance with 175 young people in attendance,” said East.

East explained that it just wasn’t individuals helping either, it was businesses as well.

In April of 1915, the Canadian Pacific Railway sent 1,500 employees to France to repair rail lines that had been damaged by battle.

On July 22, 1915, The Shaunavon Standard announced that they would be donating 50 per cent of their subscriptions over the course of the next 30 days, with the money to be given to the Women’s Patriotic Society.

“This was common,” explained East. “Various business places would donate a portion of their earnings from products purchased on individual days, one example being Fowlie’s Drug Store.”

Farmers across the region also joined together to help, creating the Patriotic Grain Fund, where farmers would give gross proceeds from one or more acres of sold grains to the fund. Farmers would also farm land of those who had gone overseas.

By 1917 there had been many community and school functions, in different communities, to raise money for war relief, and multiple patriotic funds were formed.

In April 1918, Shaunavon town council encouraged citizens to eat fish instead of beef.

“To The Citizens of Shaunavon, Your Town Council, realizing the responsibility of this community in helping to conserve the food of the country so that we may better support those who are gallantly fighting for us in the trenches in Europe, would ask for the co-operation of every householder in the town by urging them to buy fish rather than beef and bacon, which are needed for the army. Fish food is especially recommended for the reasons that with proper cooking it is appetizing and is one of the most healthful foods known, and is very reasonable in price. A. A. Havsard, Mayor.” The Shaunavon Standard, April 25, 1918.

Another instance of this type of request occurred when the local Fuel Controller wished that all motor car owners did not use their vehicle on Sunday, as it would be a waste of fuel and that they could save more for the “Boys over there”, saying that “to save gasoline is to save money” and “a word to the wise motor car owner is sufficient.”

Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard

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