ww1While the Apsley soldiers and nurses were overseas in Europe, the Apsley residents (mothers, wives, older men and children) remained supportive of the young men and women who had enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and Medical Corp.
During the war, there were many ways in which Canadians were expected to participate in the war effort. During the war, pressure was placed on women to do their part. Not only were they encouraged to support and encourage their husbands and sons to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force but they were also encouraged to participate in voluntary organizations, farm the land to produce food for family and community, work in factories, support one another in the community, and rationed supplies.
The Apsley Patriotic League and the Women’s Auxiliary were two voluntary organizations that were formed in Apsley. Both volunteer groups raised money, rolled bandages, knitted socks, mitts, sweaters, and scarves for the men serving overseas. They assembled gift boxes about the size of a greeting card box that were sent to the Apsley soldiers. The boxes contained news and letters from Apsley, photos, candies, cigarettes and knitted items to keep them warm.
In 1915, the Apsley Patriotic League organized a fund raiser, two hundred and twenty local residents donated one dollar (approximately the equivalent of $25 today) and their names were embroidered on a quilt. The quilt was on display in October 2014 at the North Kawartha Community Center in Apsley by the Burleigh Road Historical Society.
The Women’s Auxiliary organized “send-off” and “welcome home” parties for soldiers and helped to establish the Apsley cenotaph. quilt
Many women who lived on Apsley farms were faced with the reality that they had to maintain the family farm themselves, as well as raise the children, while the husbands, sons and hired labourers were off at war. Some families moved in together to share the work load by living together in one home. While younger women and older children worked side-by-side planting, harvesting, caring for livestock, milking cows and managing the finances being added to women’s normal farm chores. Grandmothers often cared for the youngest children unable to help with the farm chores.
Canada’s contributions during the war years would have been very different if it were not for the vital roles women played on the home front. The war effort encompassed all Canadians, and women did their fair share and more, achieving and sacrificing a great deal in the cause of peace and freedom.