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.

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13 August 2018

Russian Revolution and HBC: Allied Troops take Archangel

In our July 23 blog, we talked about a July 25, 1918 letter written by C.J.R. Small, HBC’s agent in Archangel (or Arkhangelsk), Russia. In it, he expressed concern that all Allied subjects would be required to leave Russia on short notice, after the execution of Russia’s Imperial family and the subsequent expulsion of Bolshevik forces from Yekaterinburg. In that letter, Small included an inventory of all HBC possessions.

The next letter Small wrote to the Governor and Committee is dated August 14. He writes:

Referring to our letter No. 538, we are glad to inform you that it was after all not necessary for us to leave Archangel, owing to the fact that the Allied troops arrived unexpectedly, and the Bolsheviks had their time fully occupied in stripping the town of all foodstuffs and valuables and hurriedly clearing out to Vologda. Prior to the arrival of the Allies, however, there was a grave danger of the arrest and internment of all allied subjects; - in fact, the Consuls were actually arrested, but released the next day by the counter-revolutionary party.

letter from C.J.R. Small
letter from C.J.R. Small
letter from C.J.R. Small
Correspondence files for Hudson's Bay Company's wartime business with European governments, Correspondence inward, Archangel, 14 August 1918, HBCA RG22/5/1005.

On August 2, 1918, Russia’s White Army and Allied forces moved into Archangel and staged a coup against the Soviet government there. This was the first event in what was known as the North Russian Intervention (also known as the Archangel Campaign), in which foreign troops, including Canadians, became involved in the Russian Revolution to aide the White Army.

These events were a relief for HBC and its business. Small is cautiously optimistic about HBC’s future operations in Archangel:

The carting away of the export goods, such as Beetroot Seeds etc. had just begun, but luckily the Bolsheviks were interrupted before any of these goods had got away. Unfortunately the Banks and other institutions have all been cleared of their books and funds, and we are not yet able to say what means will be found for establishing depositors balances, or for obtaining money for payments.

He goes on:

Everything is now quiet, and, although an enormous amount of organization will be required before the affairs of the town are put into order, it is trusted that it will be possible to conduct business much more smoothly than has been the case during the past twelve months.

Allied support in Archangel continued until 1919, when troops began to withdraw from the region. Ultimately, the White Russian army fell to the Bolshevik troops and, on February 20, 1919, the Bolsheviks once again had control of Archangel.

Search Tip: Search “Archangel” in Keystone to find more records.

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7 August 2018

The view from London, August 1918

cover of diary
Archives of Manitoba, Robert Maxwell Dennistoun family fonds, Robert Maxwell Dennistoun diary (volume 9) – London, England, 30 April 1918 to 12 February 1919, P7905/9.

Robert Maxwell Dennistoun’s diaries have been featured in earlier blogs (8 August 2017, 14 August 2017, 2 January 2018 and 26 March 2018 ). Dennistoun was Deputy Judge Advocate General at Canadian Expeditionary Force headquarters in London from 1917 until the end of the war and kept a diary recording his experiences of wartime in London and news about the Front.

In August 1918, Dennistoun documented the entry of the Canadian forces in the intense fighting:

“Canadians now in for first time this summer. They have been held in reserve as ‘the finest, best-trained and best-disciplined Corps in France’ as I was told by General Burnett Stuart from G. H. Q.”

On Monday, 12 August, he recorded:

diary entry
Archives of Manitoba, Robert Maxwell Dennistoun family fonds, Robert Maxwell Dennistoun diary (volume 9) – London, England, 30 April 1918 to 12 February 1919, P7905/9.

“British attack has secured 30,000 prisoners and 300 450 guns – of which Canadians have taken 9000 prisoners and 100 150 guns. Canadian casualties to Saturday were 3500.
Germans now back on the Aisne having lost all ground taken in their late offensives.”

It sounded like good news for the British and Canadians, but Dennistoun noted:

“We have lost the power to be jubilant. We accept victory or defeat as part of the day’s work, and without enthusiasm or depression.
Nevertheless there is a great feeling of satisfaction when things are going well.”

Dennistoun also wrote about his sons’ current postings and noted that he had received many congratulatory letters on his appointment to the bench. Dennistoun was appointed judge for the Manitoba Court of Appeal in 1918, but did not take up this position until he completed his military service and returned to Manitoba in 1919. Dennistoun was a Court of Appeal judge for 28 years, retiring in 1946.

Search Tip: Search “Dennistoun” in Keystone to learn more about these records.

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30 July 2018

Women supporting the war effort with the IODE

The Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire (IODE) was a women’s volunteer organization established in Quebec in 1900. The first Manitoba chapters were organized in 1909. By 1918 there were 87 Manitoba chapters, several of which were located in Winnipeg under the auspices of the Municipal Chapter while chapters located outside of Winnipeg fell under the Provincial Chapter.

During the First World War, IODE chapters were active in various activities aimed at supporting the war effort and improving the lives of soldiers and their families. Members knitted socks and other garments, sent supply parcels to soldiers overseas, and organized teas, dances, and patriotic concerts.

historical photo of several women in a room with a banner in the background that reads “I.O.D.E Sock Shower for Soldiers Headquarters, 3rd floor, free wool to knitters.” Many of the women are kitting or operating sewing machines, while others pour tea.
IODE members knitting socks and sewing garments for soldiers as part of a sock shower. Archives of Manitoba, IODE fonds, Records of the Provincial Chapter, Photographs of IODE activities during the First World War and the Second World War, [ca. 1914-1945], P8121/7.

Many members of IODE chapters regularly visited soldiers in hospitals and a convalescent home for soldiers was established in Winnipeg by the IODE in 1915. IODE chapters raised funds for Victory Loan campaigns, the Red Cross and many other national and international charities. In other cases, they supplied equipment to specific military units such as their purchase of a field kitchen (valued at the time at $1200) for the 28th Battalion in 1915. (The 28th Battalion was part of the Second Contingent which is mentioned in our 1st May 1917 blog post.)

historical photo of a large group of women standing in front of a building, watching as a man in uniform drives a horse drawn field kitchen on a cart. Two young boys in uniform and military officials also watch. A group of military soldiers stand at attention in the background.
Presentation of field kitchen to the 28th Battalion, CEF, 1915. Archives of Manitoba, IODE fonds, Records of the Provincial Chapter, Photographs of IODE activities during the First World War and the Second World War, [ca. 1914-1945], P8121/7.

The Archives of Manitoba has nearly 10 meters of records documenting many of Manitoba’s IODE chapters from 1909 to 2000.

Search Tip: Search “IODE” in Keystone to learn more about these records.

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23 July 2018

Russian Revolution and HBC: After the Execution of the Imperial Family

As the First World War continued, the situation in revolutionary Russia was getting worse. On July 17, 1918, the entire Russian Imperial family was executed by Bolshevik troops in the city of Yekaterinburg, in the home in which they were imprisoned. This included Czar Nicholas II, his wife Czarina Alexandra, their five children, and four others who were with the royal family during their imprisonment.

The full horror of these events did not reach the Russian people immediately. The official story was that the czar had been killed, while his family had been moved to a safe place.

Letter from C.J.R. Small to the Governor and Committee
Correspondence files for Hudson’s Bay Company’s wartime business with European governments, Correspondence inward, Archangel, 25 July 1918, HBCA RG22/5/1005.

On July 25, the Czechoslovak Legion entered Yekaterinburg and drove away the Bolshevik forces. That same day, C.J.R. Small, HBC’s agent in Russia, wrote to the Governor and Committee from Archangel (now called Arkhangelsk), over 1800 kilometres away from Yekaterinburg.

Small makes reference to the “present political situation” and “scare” but does not mention the events that had taken place in Yekaterinburg one week earlier. From this letter, it is difficult to discern what he knew.

He writes:

We regret to have to inform you that, owing to the present political situation, the British Consul has warned us that it may be necessary for all Allied subjects to leave within an hour’s notice.

He goes on to assure the Governor and Committee that HBC’s office and its contents would be looked after in the event of an evacuation. An inventory of HBC’s property in Russia, including its house in Murmansk and a yacht, is enclosed.

Inventory of the property of the Hudson's Bay Company, Archangel. Office Furniture and Fittings, including desks, tables, chairs, bookcases, cupboards, mirrors, lamps, carpets, table cloths, candlesticks
Inventory of the property of the Hudson's Bay Company, Archangel. Gear for Discharging Steamers.
Correspondence files for Hudson’s Bay Company’s wartime business with European governments, Correspondence inward, Archangel, 25 July 1918, HBCA RG22/5/1005.

Small ends the letter on a bleak note:

The food question has now reached a very critical stage, and we are afraid that worse days are in store, as it is difficult to see where fresh supplies can be procured, as Archangel is now practically isolated from the rest of Russia.

One week later, on August 2, Allied forces liberated Archangel from Bolshevik control. Watch for this story next month.

Search Tip: Search “Russia” in Keystone to find more records.

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