Blog

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

In Flanders fields the poppies blow,

Between the crosses, row on row…

This iconic poem, written in May 1915 by Lt. Col. John McCrae during the Second Battle of Ypres, has long been associated with the observance of Remembrance Day in Canada. In fact, it is believed published poets wrote more than two thousand poems about and during the First World War. Today we feature one such poem on this beautiful WW1 era postcard, one of over a thousand in the Fanshawe Pioneer Village postcard collection. The short but poignant verse below the flag is from a poem written by Canon Frederick George Scott, author, poet and much loved Chaplain to the First Canadian Division.

Postcard

At the outbreak of WW1 in 1914, Frederick George Scott was a 54 year old Victorian clergyman. Fiercely loyal to the ideals of the British Empire he wasted no time enlisting for overseas duty. Ignoring the risks to his own personal safety, Scott spent the war with his “boys” in the frontline, following his beloved First Division into every major Battle.

Frederick George Scott

Frederick Scott also suffered a personal tragedy during WW1 with the loss of his son, Captain Henry Hutton Scott, killed in action on October 21, 1916 during an attack on Regina Trench. In mid-November, as the troops were preparing...

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...

Pages