OWEN SOUND GOT THE NEWS 45 MINUTES AFTER WASHINGTON
Population Roused at 3.35 This Morning and Commenced to Celebrate Without Delay
It was exactly 3.35 this morning that The Sun-Times was notified by long distance telephone from Toronto that an official dispatch had been received there that German delegates had signed the armistice at midnight. A few minutes earlier Miss Pearl McKay, long distance night operator, picked up the news from a Toronto operator. Miss McKay has the honor of being the first in Owen Sound to hear the glad news. She resides at 467 Tenth Street East, and is a sister of the late Alex McKay who was killed in action on Nov. 2, 1917.
At once the fire department was notified and the town bell was rung vigorously and in an instant the entire population was aroused. In the expectation that something big was about to occur the citizens were easily aroused and in a few minutes crowds were flocking down street. The SunTimes office was besieged with telephone inquiries immediately. Everywhere the news was received with the greatest enthusiasm and half an hour after the first message was received thousands of people on the main street and hundreds of cards were out. The fire department appeared on the scene early and joined in the celebration and Piper John Leslie was the first to supply music for the early morning celebration.
The surrounding villages and towns were notified at once by The Sun-Times.
The telephone night staff was swamped with calls and inquiries but under the circumstances the young ladies in charge maintained an excellent service.
That Owen Sound can celebrate as well at 4 a. m. as at 4 p. m. was proven this morning beyond peradventure. The news of Victory and Peace was pealed forth by the old fire bell at 4 a. m. and in very few minutes people started to come down town. Mr. John Swaney and Miss Jean were the first to appear followed closely by who do you think? Mr. Reginald Geen. There was soon a crowd in front of The Sun-Times office, reading the short and concise news outlined in the window. Autos started to arrive, one of the first being Mr. E. W. McQuay’s and the noise started. Horns of every character were produced, auto horns, fish horns and bugles. Drums, tin pans, old sheet iron and in fact everything that could make a real noise, was brought into use and the efforts were decidedly successful. By 4.30 there were 1,000 people on the streets and this number was doubled before five o’clock.
The early hour made no difference, and in fact it rather helped along the fun. A big bon fire was soon started in the market square and around this the crowd gathered and led by Mr. Geen, sang the Doxoogy, the National Anthem and several other patriotic airs. The Mayor was soon on the job and issued a proclamation for a holiday of Thanksgiving, which was printed and posted up before six o’clock.
A parade was formed on the market at 6.30 and led by the Citizens’ Band and the Salvation Army and Pipe bands, followed by the Fire trucks, the war veterans (many in uniform), hundreds of citizens on foot and trucks filled with cheering, happy young people. Cars by the dozens, all regally decorated and all filled to capacity, followed in the wake. A fine representation of a British tank, and a beautiful model of an airplane, made up by the Owen Sound garage, were real interesting items of the parade. One car with a picture of the Kaiser ‘beating it’, and a farewell to him, a truck with a cage containing a good effigy of the late Kaiser hung by the neck, and a dozen other interesting features were included. The parade headed north on Second Ave. E., to 10th St., to 3rd Ave. E., to 8th St., and back to the market.
Crowds filled the walks on main St., particularly between 8th St. and 9th St., and groups were either singing or cheering justly as the parade went past. There was no doubt this time as to the authenticity of the news, it had the positiveness that the former announcement lacked, and as a result all restraint was removed.
The war was over, the victory had been won, the terrible nightmare of 1559 days of world strife was ended. People who had hardly joked or smiled during all that time, felt the reaction and the faces of everyone bore the look that was good to see. They knew what the war had cost; what terrible suffering had resulted, and they were inexpressibly happy that this was all ended. They had reason to rejoice and they did.
A crowd of girls were singing on the main street an expressive little song accompanied by drums. The song ran something like this:
“Goodbye old Germany Fare well to you You’ll have no Kaiser When the war is through.” Etc. Etc.
The veterans sang many old trench and marching songs and were loudly cheered as they marched through the streets. Later they got bugles and drums and kept the noise and merriment up all along the main street.