[A summary of the activities of the Sundridge Women's Institute during World War I, author not stated.]
THE SUNDRIDGE WOMEN'S INSTITUTE IN WORLD WAR I
The Sundridge Women's Institute began its campaign on the home-front shortly after war was declared on Germany in 1914. A special meeting was held August 31, 1914 to discuss plans; money-making projects were essential to buy materials for knitting and sewing. Work meetings were to be held in the Public Library. Each Institute member was to leave a cup, plate and spoon there, no doubt long hours were spent in the library completing arduous tasks.
A concert presented in October 1914 netted $70.00 which was sent to the Patriotic Fund. Jam and jellies were requested for overseas hospitals. Proceeds from a lunch counter at the Fall Fair paid for materials to be sewn into necessities for the troops. Showers requesting gifts for soldiers were held in the Library.
A second Patriotic Fund concert was held in Sept. 1915. Younger women of the community aided the efforts of the W.I. Miss Violet Hammond, Miss Annie Lang and Miss Louella Dunbar organized the Drill and Musical Committee for that entertainment. That same day the ladies looked after the lunch counter at the Fall Fair. Fifty dollars from the proceeds was sent to the Red Cross.
The Machine Gun Fund requested a $50.00 donation that year. The W.I. however realized that this amount was beyond their means but they managed to send $3.00 by selling 704 tickets on a cake made by Mrs. David Valentine. It would seem that the tickets sold at a nickel each.
In 1916 the 162nd Overseas Battalion was stationed in Sundridge and the "Colours" were presented to the battalion by the Sundridge Women's Institute. Colonel James Arthurs was the Commanding Officer. At that time Mrs. Jas. Dunbar was president of the W.I. Other members who attended the ceremony were Mrs. Jos. Edgar, Mrs. A. Anderson, Miss D. Vanwicklin.
The war went on and the tireless efforts of the Sundridge W.I. kept pace. Two hundred "Allied for Right" buttons were sold in aid of the Red Cross. More yarn was purchased and knit into socks. Large quilt blocks (15" x 18") were often donated by members; it would appear that a constant quilting bee must have been in progress. Sometimes two quilts would be done at the home of a member. Four quilts were shipped to the Guilford War Hospital in England in 1917. In March of that year a Box Social brought in $67.55. Money thus earned was often used to buy bolts of flannelette for bandages or soldiers' comforts.
The theme of the topics at W.I. meetings changed. Many discussions were now related to the war effort, such as "Be Careful of What You Are Saying", Let Nothing be Wasted, Women In Industry and Women's Line of Defence.
To enliven the task of knitting socks a knitting contest was organized in September 1917. Mrs. Albert Anderson and Mrs. David Valentine were the captains. There were thirteen members on each team, however, each lady was allowed to ask for help from non-members.
Here are the directions for the socks which were knitted: 21 stitches on each needle in leg, 1st finger length ribbed 2 and 1 then plain. Length of leg to end of heel 3 finger lengths. 19 stitches on each needle in foot end 2-3/4 fingers long.
In 1917 at the October meeting the ladies took a bold stand and passed the following resolve –
That we are ready to sign the Food Service Cards when and as soon as the food Controller forbids the use of two hundred million pounds of food stuffs (grain, molasses and sugar) which were last year worse than wasted in the manufacture of liquors; and when the Government of Great Britain where the brewers recently paid largely increased dividends on their stock also makes it illegal for one hundred thousand tons of grain per month and enough sugar to supply the army to be similarly destroyed. We respect consistency and common sense and we submit that it is an irony to urge us to further self-sacrifice in the fact of these extravagant and preposterous methods of helping the Hun.
A Halloween Box Social netted $23.90 in October to raise funds for overseas Xmas treats. Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Hall and Mrs. [?] collected cash front villagers, thus sixty-three boxes were packed, each one containing 2 pairs of socks, cake, candy and gum. The knitting content was probably very worthwhile, as forty-four extra pairs of socks were posted to Friends of France and Friends of Belgium. A bale of 14 pillows, 14 pillow and four quilts were sent to the Red Cross.
Thus the splendid efforts of the Sundridge W.I. continued, knitting, sewing, quilting, baking and fund-raising. The money raised for patriotic work in 1918 amounted to $443.43. Boxes were sent overseas in November and March of 1918.
After Armistice had been signed November 11, 1918 the W.I. still continued their war effort. At the Dec. 13 meeting, 1918, it was decided that a banquet be given for returned soldiers, after a certain in number had arrived home. Mrs. Edgar was the convener of the committee which consisted of mothers of soldiers.
A letter was written to Ryries requesting the price of signet rings in view of presenting one to each returned soldier. At the April meeting it was decided that the following soldiers would be given rings: Wesley Basso, Ben Paget, Watson Anderson, Lloyd Lang, Oswald Dukelow, Wes Fleming, Pete Hodgson, Jack Haggart, Irvine Dunbar, Fred Ford, Joe Ford, Bert Hill, Frank Hill, Louis Dennis, Jack Smith, Roy Burtch, Geo. Kennedy, Harry Kennedy, Will Pinkerton, Earle Hamilton, Will Flood, Will Webb, Roy Black, Will Herald, John Naismith, Mr. Croker, Pete Tarr, Will Willoughby, Mr. Raredon, Simon Fleming.
The mothers who had lost sons in World War I were also to be presented with rings. They were Mrs. A. Bossert, Mrs. T. Burtch, Mrs. Jno. Minorgan, Mrs. J. Kalkhorst, Mrs. Stewart and Mrs. Harkness.
The names of soldiers Major Paget, Robt. Woods and G. Quirt were later added to the list.
At a second banquet to be held July 29, 1919 the rings were to be presented to "Our Returned Heroes" and to the mothers of "Our Fallen Heroes".
These soldiers were indeed heroes and deserved to be thus honoured.
In like manner one must be mindful of the determination and exemplary deeds of the Sundridge Women's Institute in World War I.