Dundas Women's Patriotic League

In this blog post we introduce to our readers more details about life in Dundas during World War I. A series of these posts will appear in commemoration of the centenary of  World War I. We also remind everyone that “A War Without End” ends February 16, 2015.

Formed in 1915, the Dundas Women’s Patriotic League, affiliated with the Canadian Patriotic Fund, focused not only on providing monetary donations to the country and to families in need, but also offering assistance to the women left behind. Their assistance came in the form of tools and tips for successful management of home and business, and in the promotion of women entering the workforce.

The League worked during the war years to provide gifts to soldiers overseas and donations to the Red Cross. Examples of such gifts were homemade knitted socks. The Leagues allowed for all women to send socks directly overseas to the boys in the trenches. Women played an influential role in volunteering their time to ensure the well-being of their boys with care packages and the like. A simple means of easing the pains of war time was to have knitting parties, in which women would all gather and knit socks as part of their war efforts.

Below is a transcription of an inspiring letter written by Dundas Women’s Patriotic League president, Mrs. Jean K. Bertram, discussing the progress the league had made and thanking members of the community who had donated their time and money to the worthy cause.

In March 1915, the Dundas Women’s Patriotic League was organized. As the need of a regular income became apparent, the town was canvassed and a monthly house-to-house collection started in November of the same year. The result was most encouraging.
Our work has been greatly blessed, and far exceeded all expectations. Money and workers came to assist, and with the dawn of peace we find our storehouse well filled.
With the demobilization of our troops the need for sending comforts and supplies to our soldiers ceases, and therefore our monthly collections are now unnecessary.
However, having truly learned the joy of service and sacrifice, our work must continue so long as there is a need that we can fill. Following instructions from Red Cross Headquarters, no more material is being cut into soldiers’ garments. Those on hand are being finished and forwarded, while the new material is being made up into clothing for the refugees, who for the time being have no facilities for making these things for themselves.
In conclusion, we wish to thank you who have so generously contributed to the funds, and we feel that you, like the discharged soldier, stand ready to answer the call again should the need arise.
Very sincerely yours,
MRS. BERTRAM, President.

The League was so successful, that not only did they have a surplus of funds which they gave to war refugees after the war, but they were even called upon by the Victory Loan Committee to help sell bonds for the Victory Loan Campaign. The Dundas Women’s Patriotic League may have been dissolved, but their influence remains with us even today. These women not only answered the call of duty, but thrived and succeeded in the most hopeless of times, and reminded Dundas raised soldiers that they were being looked after regardless of where they were stationed.

This post was written by Claudia Palermo, our Curatorial Assistant, a position made possible by a grant from Young Canada Works in 2014.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada (Youth Employment Strategy) through the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Young Canada Works Program. Nous reconnaissons l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada (Stratégie emploi jeunesse) par l’entremise du ministère du Patrimoine canadien pour le programme Jeunesse Canada au travail.