WWI evening ben­e­fits mu­seum

The Glengarry News - - News - BY STEVEN WARBURTON News Staff

It’s cer­tainly no over­state­ment to say that the first World War had a pro­found ef­fect on global his­tory. It re­drew Euro­pean borders and changed war­fare for­ever, but it was also the cat­a­lyst in a num­ber of more sub­tle changes.

Take, for ex­am­ple, women’s fash­ion.

“Be­fore the War, it was the Ro­man­tic age,” ex­plains Lynn Lafave, a his­to­rian at Up­per Canada Vil­lage. “King Ed­ward was a bit of a wom­an­izer and he liked curvy women with curvy bod­ies.”

As such, women did their best to con­form to this trend, even to go so far as to use corsets to shrink their waists to un­nat­u­ral sizes.

But then along came the Great War. The men went off to fight and women stayed be­hind and worked.

“Clothes be­came more prac­ti­cal and com­fort­able,” said Ms. Lafave, who gave a talk at the Lan­caster Le­gion on Saturday night as part of the Nor’Westers and Loy­al­ist Mu­seum’s War is Over fundrais­ing dinner.

Ms. Lafave was one of seven speak­ers who of­fered in­sight into how the Great War changed the world. While her talk fo­cused on fash­ion, she added that the post-war pe­riod ush­ered in a new era of

women’s lib­er­a­tion.

“Af­ter the war, women had tasted free­dom and they no longer needed es­corts to main­tain their rep­u­ta­tions,” she said. “World War I eman­ci­pated women and opened the way to the roar­ing ‘20s.”

But although the early part of the 20th Cen­tury saw more re­laxed dress­ing stan­dards for women, they were still a long time away from the mini skirts and hal­ter tops you see in the sum­mer. Their skirts were shorter ( they could go above the an­kle) but trousers would have still been con­sid­ered gauche. Even nurses wore aprons, skirts, and blouses with re­move­able sleeves so they could be washed more eas­ily.

Lorna McKendry spoke about wartime food, posit­ing a the­ory that World War I may have shaped our eat­ing habits today. It was a time when peo­ple were en­cour­aged to min­i­mize their food con­sump­tion be­cause “meat, wheat, and fats” were for the sol­diers.

It was also an era that saw “meat­less Fri­days” and the mak­ing of sauces for left­overs.

Lo­cal his­tory buff Robin Flock­ton, who is also a past pres­i­dent of the Glen­garry His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, spoke about the incredible ex­penses the al­lied coun­tries in­curred getting sup­plies to their troops. Each sol­dier needed about 4.5 pounds of food each day and this ne­ces­si­tated a lot of work back home. Mr. Flock­ton says that bak­eries pro­duced 26,000 loaves of bread each day and that butch­ers killed and dressed about 22,500 an­i­mals on a daily ba­sis. In or­der to slake the sol­diers’ thirst, it was nec­es­sary to send out 40 40,000- litre water trucks each day.

“Food, water, and feed had to be de­liv­ered,” Mr. Flock­ton said. “So did the mail. That was very im­por­tant for morale.” In­cred­i­bly, the al­lies shipped 5.45 mil­lion tonnes of oats and hay across the channel just to feed the an­i­mals.

“All this ma­te­rial was shipped by brute force,” he said. “Today, you’d need 300,000 semi-trail­ers to ship it all but back then, it was all moved by peo­ple.”

8 mil­lion horses died

Speak­ing of an­i­mals, Mackie Robert­son spoke about the vi­tal role they played in the Great War.

In­deed, he re­ported that the first con­tact in that war was a cal­vary charge. Since that first bat­tle, eight mil­lion horses lost their lives in World War I.

“A thou­sand horses were shipped ev­ery week from North Amer­ica,” he said, adding that in Eng­land, the gov­ern­ment could seize a farmer’s horse for the war ef­fort un­less the farmer could prove the horse was needed at the farm.

Other speak­ers in­cluded Roy Le­feb­vre, who spoke about the Christie broth­ers, Wendy Wert, on the Span­ish Flu, and Mary Re­gan, who spoke about the birth of the in­come tax.

DAUNE MACDONALD AND STEVEN WARBURTON PHO­TOS

LIFE IN A BY­GONE ERA: As this year marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of WWI, the Nor’Westers and Loy­al­ist Mu­seum held a com­mem­o­ra­tive fundrais­ing dinner at the Lan­caster Le­gion on Saturday night. At left, Norma MacDonald and Keleigh...

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