PCA-11051916 | Three Questions for the Women of Peel County

Newspaper extract
Three Questions for the Women of Peel County
May 11, 1916, 20th century
This artefact belongs to : © Peel County Archives
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Keys to History

In early-20th-century Canada the family was the key economic unit. Its men (and its boys as soon as they could earn) supplied the money, while the women (and girls as soon as they could help) maintained the home and raised the children. Losing a man to the army or to death (or to both) was an economic as well as an emotional blow. In 1914 Sir Sam Hughes insisted that a volunteer must have his wife's permission to enlist. That ended in the summer of 1915, but were women discouraging sons or husbands from enlisting?

This advertisement in a small town newspaper near Toronto tries to provide questions and arguments that patriotic citizens can use to pressure women to release their menfolk.

  • What

    The 234th Battalion was the third unit to seek recruits from Peel County, a region of farms and market gardens just west of Toronto and its suburbs. It secured 438 recruits, more than some other units but less than half of the thousand men it needed to proceed overseas.

  • Where

    Though described as "Peel's Pride" and "Your Own Battalion" to appeal to county loyalty, the 234th Battalion had to be housed in "Ravina Barracks", an abandoned school in the west end of Toronto.

  • When

    The advertisement appeared in the May 11, 1916 issue of the Streetsville Review and Port Credit Herald, a local newspaper for two towns and other farming communities in the southern part of Peel County.

  • Who

    Recruiters believed that wives or mothers encouraged their men to stay home in safety where they could earn more than the government chose to pay its soldiers. Instead of arguing that such women could enjoy financial security, the advertisement appeals to their patriotic power to add another soldier to the cause of King and country.