Visit this blog for regular posts about records at the Archives of Manitoba that date from the time of the First World War. Visit the Archives of Manitoba to see the records in person.

October 2017 Posts:

16 October 2017

Minnie Campbell's military war album

Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell (nee Buck) was born in Canada West (now Ontario) in 1862. She moved to Winnipeg in 1884, joining her new husband who had moved here a couple of years earlier. Colin H. Campbell was a lawyer and Manitoba politician who served as attorney general from 1900 to 1911. Minnie Campbell was a leading organizer, supporter and fundraiser for many organizations including the IODE, the Red Cross, the YWCA, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

The Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell fonds is a rich collection of correspondence, reports, notes, scrapbooks, photographs and other records documenting her lifetime of volunteer service for which she was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1935.

first page of Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell's autograph book, with handwritten title “My Auxiliary War Album. Minnie J. B. Campbell. Inverary. February 22nd 1915”
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Two pages in the autograph book with lists of signatures of military personnel, their rank, and unit
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Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell fonds, Military war album, 1915-1925, P5145/6.

One of the First World War related items in Minnie Campbell’s records is an autograph book which she titled “My Military War Album” dated 22 February 1915 at Inverary, her home on Roslyn Road. The album contains many signatures of senior military personnel with their rank and unit. These are usually grouped by the date (and sometimes a place) on which they signed.

A page in the autograph book with a list of signatures of officers in the 251st overseas batt'n C.E.F., dated April 1917. The page has a decorative border of leaves and swirls.
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A page in the autograph book with a list of signatures of officers in the 250 overseas battalion 1917. The page has a brightly coloured decorative border with flourishes in the corners.
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Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell fonds, Military war album, 1915-1925, P5145/6.

Some of the pages are quite decorative. At the back of the book there are the names of many women. These may have been women that Minnie Campbell met while attending a conference or meeting.

A page in the autograph book with list of signatures, including the signature of R. M. Dennistoun
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Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell fonds, Military war album, 1915-1925, P5145/6.

During our commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War, we are becoming familiar with many of the Manitobans who served in the First World War and whose records are in the Archives’ holdings. Sometimes we come across connections within the records. In Minnie Campbell’s war album, we were interested to find the signature of R. M. Dennistoun from March 1916 just before he left for England with the 53rd Battalion. (See the blogs of 8 August 2017 and 14 August 2017 for more information about R. M. Dennistoun’s war experiences.) It is great to make these connections!

Search Tip: Search “Minnie Julia Beatrice Campbell” in Keystone to find out more about her and her records.

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10 October 2017

Thanksgiving 1917: a harvest of plenty in Benito, Manitoba

Kate McKittrick moved from Ontario to Benito, Manitoba in the summer of 1917 when she married Gordon McKittrick. Their letters to Gordon’s family were found in the attic of a house in Thornbury, Ontario and were donated to the Archives of Manitoba in 1964.

Letter from Kate McKittrick with 6 pages
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Letter from Kate McKittrick to her mother-in-law in Ontario. Archives of Manitoba, Gordon and Kate McKittrick fonds, Letters, 1917, P7445/3.

In an October 9 letter, Kate wrote to her mother-in-law about how she and Gordon (also known as “Mac”) spent Thanksgiving Day helping with the harvest.

“We spent a rather funny Thanksgiving although pleasant, right after breakfast we went out in the country to help Staples dig potatoes, first when we got there Mr. Staples and Gordon went out to where the men were threshing and Mrs. Staples and I pulled two bags of carrots and beats [sic].  I pulled them while Mrs. S. cut off the tops.  We did that right until dinner time, then after dinner we went to the potatoes.  Mac dug while Mrs. S. & I picked them up.  Mr. Staples being at the threshing, we did seven bags and believe me we were good and tired especially poor old Mac as he wasn’t used to such hard work.”

At this time the McKittricks were anxiously waiting to see whether or not Gordon would be called up to serve in the First World War.  In the same letter Kate outlined their plans should he be conscripted:

“Gordon and I have planned that if he is called he will get a transfer east if at all possible so we will be nearer home and then any holidays he could get he could spend them at home.  I would be oh so lonely out here if he had to train out here probably in another town to where I would be and even if I was in the same town every person would be perfect strangers to me and Gordon couldn’t be with me all the time so if at all possible we will go East as soon as he would have to enlist.”

As noted in our blog post of 28 August 2017, McKittrick was eventually drafted, and in the spring of 1918, Gordon and Kate returned to Thornbury where he joined the 1st Central Ontario Regiment.

Search Tip: Search “McKittrick” in Keystone to find out more about these records.

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2 October 2017

The S.S. Nascopie and Worried Loved Ones at Home

The Hudson’s Bay Company’s wartime shipping contracts with European governments were managed in part by Sale & Co., a British shipping and importing business. Sale & Co. was founded in England in around 1908 by the family of Charles Vincent Sale, who became the HBC’s deputy governor in 1916, and, in 1925, the HBC’s 29th governor.

The records of Sale & Co. are comprised mainly of correspondence between the company and the Governor and Committee of the HBC, dealing with the business of ships’ purchase agreements, insurance, and matters pertaining to particular ships. These include crew lists, such as this one for the Nascopie, dated Dec 1916:

Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Sale & Co. fonds, S.S. Nascopie crew list, 21 December 1916, HB2007/046

These records also contain a few personal letters that reveal the concerns and fears of the families of HBC crew men, whose loved ones were sailing into conflict zones. In September 1917, the office of Sale & Co. received three letters from family members of Nascopie crew members. The three writers of the letters all inquire after their loved ones, since they had not heard from them in a long time.

Jane Santos, inquiring after her husband Jose, voices her fears, saying “some of his friends tell me they heard he died but I don’t think it is true.”

Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Sale & Co. fonds, Correspondence regarding S.S. Nascopie, Aug-Nov 1917, HB2007/046.

To relieve their worries, each of the letter writers received the same short reply from Sale & Co., assuring them that their loved ones were still on board the Nascopie and all was well.

Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Sale & Co. fonds, Correspondence regarding S.S. Nascopie, Aug-Nov 1917, HB2007/046.

Search Tip: Search “Sale & Co.” in Keystone to find out more about these records.

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