Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

An exciting discovery of a Farm Service Corps uniform in our collection serves to remind us that men were not the only participants in World War One. While women were restricted from participating in direct combatant roles, they organized and outfitted themselves for home defense, including military drills and rifle training. Canadian women also played a vital role on the home front, ensuring the economy continued to thrive by assuming roles traditionally held by men. According to the Imperial Munitions Board, nearly 35,000 women produced ammunition in factories in Ontario and Quebec during the First World War. But the shortage of labour in rural Canada led to government and private sector support for employment of women in agriculture.

One such program, the Farm Service Corps, was an initiative of the Ontario government. The “Farmerettes” worked in many areas of agriculture, replacing the labour of men lost to military service. For example, 2,400 women assisted with the fruit harvest in the Niagara region in 1918. The Young Women’s Christian Association, or YWCA, also had farm work programs, as did some charitable agencies and provincial departments of public works. While there were no formal arrangements like this in other provinces, rural women contributed extensively to farm work, as they had before the war, but now they often did so without their husbands, sons, or labourers to assist. Despite these challenges, it was...

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

Affectionately known as the “Farmer’s Colonel”, Lt. Col. Bartholomew “Bart” Robson was held in high esteem by all ranks of the 135th Middlesex Battalion. Actively involved in the militia since his youth, he enlisted as a private with the 26th Middlesex Light Infantry and rose to become their commanding officer, a position he held when the Great War broke out in 1914.

135th Batt. Flat presented by County Council of Middlesex 1916

In 1915 he was authorized to raise a battalion from Middlesex County, and according to a report in the March 30, 1916 edition of the Strathroy Age Dispatch “the recruiting record at the end of February 3 months after the authorization of the battalion shows close to 1,000 men on the roll.” The article goes on to describe the character of the Lt. Col., “Bart Robson is a farmer. He is a real son of the soil and his big farm at Ilderton is one of the best in the County of Middlesex. He is a soldier too, a real soldier in the words of his officers and men and the way he has brought the 135th to practically full strength is an indication of his ability. There is no stiff-necked adherence to all the forms and usages of so-called military etiquette in Col. Robson. There is more real democracy in the 135th...

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

Ninety seven years ago today The London Advertiser reported on the success of the Allies final counter-offensive of World War One, which ultimately led to the defeat of the German Army. Known as the “Hundred Days Campaign”, it began on August 8, 1918 with the Battle of Amiens and ended with the Armistice being signed on November 11th. Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief of the Imperial Forces, based his campaign on the use of “shock troops” to break the German defences, and the Canadian Corps played a major role. As reported by the Advertiser, Haig paid a visit to the Canadian front lines - “He complimented Sir Arthur Currie, not only on the achievement of the corps, but also on the wonderful spirit animating his men, battle weary after three days of savage fighting, yet whose only desire was to be let loose again on the Boche.”

The London Advertiser 1918 Newspaper Clipping

In contrast, the second page of the Advertiser displayed advertisements for local businesses and attractions, including the grand opening of the Annis Candy Shop at 398 Richmond Street. An ad for “Vacation Days at Port Stanley” reports where to purchase remedies for sunburn and promotes the Irish Benevolent Society’s Annual Picnic. How far removed those on the home front must have felt from their fathers, brothers, sons and daughters fighting...

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