The attached photo was taken on the platform of the CPR Station. Visible in the background is the Lyric Theatre and the Queen’s Hotel. Identified in the photo are Curly Nicholson, Margaret Woods, and Jake Pinkerton. Photo Submitted

Turning Back the Pages: Groups formed to help those in need

By Colleen Palumbo

Many groups have formed as a result of need; expressed usually by a group of people with a common goal. The local Red Cross was no exception to that.

A meeting was set up at the Lyric Theatre on November 6, 1914, to bring together all those who were interested in helping with the war efforts from home. Rev. Field Yolland called the meeting to order and explained what the objectives and aims of the Red Cross were and then Rev. N.T.C. Mackay addressed the meeting by explaining the many ways that the society could help in war and in times of peace.

Election of officers took place with the following results: president – Mrs. Shaw; vice presidents- Mrs. Mackay and Mrs. Bulman; secretary treasurer -Miss Murray; executive committee – Mrs.Yolland, Mrs. Beattle, Mrs. Knox, Mrs. Dainard, Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Green, Mrs.Mercier, Miss Newmeyer, and Miss Weston.

After this first meeting, another date was set so that the ladies might start to come up with ways and ideas that would raise money. This fundraising was necessary to create the clothing and gifts that would be sent to our soldiers overseas.

Over the years, various methods of fundraising were used, many of which have never been heard of today, so I set about researching these methods to share with you. Some of them were used in the First World War and some in the Second but all seemed to have the desired effect of raising funds.

As today, food always seemed to be a big draw. Immediately after their formation, the ladies began to plan an event called the Red Cross Conversazione. This concert was a huge success and included many of the townspeople in it. Every reserved seat in the Lyric Theatre was sold out as were all of the general admission seats and a sign was posted for standing room only.

Approximately 100 children attended and were seated on benches in the front of the hall.

The opening number for this evening was the National Anthems of Britannia and Her Allies. Each of the colonies were represented in suitable costume and colour was given the setting by the addition of a few soldiers and several East Indian men.

Through this event, the Red Cross realized a net profit of $183.75. Raffles took place at every meeting and events around town and they often raffled articles such as dolls or cartons of cigarettes that had been donated by local merchants.

One of the more usual fundraisers that I came across was a cafeteria that was held at the home of Mrs. Bulman. Each of the Red Cross ladies provided food. A price was decided upon and then the food was set onto the tables where the patrons could make their selection, take their tray to the wicket and pay for their chosen meal. Sounds like a “you-pay potluck.” Games were arranged on the lawn which had been decorated with lights for the evening to follow. A dance finished off the evening and $140.30 was raised. It was interesting to note that on the list of expenditures for this event, ice cream was the most expensive.

Another fundraiser that sounded like fun took place in March of 1915 at the home of F. Polier at Moberly. Put on by the Junior Red Cross, this event was a bean supper. The menu consisted of beans a la Hungary, pork and beans au Greece, pomme de terre au France, Easter eggs a la bunny, puff balls a la Beattie, cake deluxe, dream coffee and sleepmore cocoa. Who could resist? Again there was a cover charge and a raffle. Mrs. Polier’s guests were treated to a sing song. Mrs. F. Schiesser and Mrs. V. Salomaa read out couplets that each had written about people in the community.

Today, if we raised only $100 or $200 from such an event, it would be considered a total flop.

But they knew the cause was a good one and never gave up, something many of us could take a lesson from today.

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