Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | November 8, 2017

World War I – letter from Home – Cornwall

World War I postcard to home – Northfield Station.

The postcards were from and sent to Private William Dixson, a member of the 2nd Battalion, CEF, he was killed in action.

This photograph is from CANADA’S HEROES in the GREAT WORLD WAR, Cornwall, Alexandria, Vankleek Hill, Hawkesbury and Intermediate Points, Memorial Edition, Vol. 1, 1921.

This book is full of photographs of men who signed up from the area, and as such is a very important resource tool.

Cornwall April 2, 1917.

Dear Son:

As usual I have neglected writing you until I am ashamed of my negligence and hardly know what excuse to make.  The weight of years resting upon my shoulders must bear the blame since on other cause is convenient.  If I live till the 14tth day of this month I’ll finish my 95th year.  I have no recollection of seeing either of my grandfathers as both had passed away before I reached the age of boyhood and I have not seen or heard any records of the ages of our ancestors in earlier times.

We have still the remnants of a severe winter in the woods and sheltered places around.  The frost has been unusually intense and the snow more abundant than for many years.  Many old people and several young have succumbed to attacks of grip and pneumonia.  Many have passed away and another generations are now occupying their positions.

There are now ten teachers in the High School and 13 in the Public

World War I era postcard, Cornwall High School.

Edwardian era postcard of Cornwall Public School (Central), published by R.M. Pitts & Co., Cornwall.

The same number of churches continue to supply the demand but the men who occupy the pulpits are all different and nearly the same may be said of those now occupying the pews.  St. John’s is the only one which has been rebuilt since you left and is the finest ecclesiastic edifice in the Town.

The Cotton industry is the largest, and the Modern Bedstead, and the Chair the Furniture since the war began the manufacture of Bomb cases have given people profitable employment.

I am surprised at the views you expressed in your letter regarding the war.  I cannot imagine how you could acquire such opinions.  The papers of New York which reach us here seem to form and express views favourable to the Allies, and the American Republic is about to declare that the war exists against the U.S. by the piratical acts of Germany.  The wonder is how or why the U.S. stood out so long.

Cornwall as wells as all parts have contributed men to the army.  The young men here are very few.  Several from Knox Church congregations (about 30) are in the army and the same is true regarding St. John’s and Methodist and Episcopal and Catholics.

Knox Church with the steeple.

Several men have been slain and have returned wounded so as to be unfit for service.  Fred Grant son of Duncan Grant near the High School, a son of Mr. Monk, manager of the Bank of Montreal living opposite the house, and the son of Mr. Wereley next door were wounded.

The stories you must have heard regarding the savagery of Canadians are false.  The Germans have committed such barbarities during the whole war that they had to invent some excuse for their diabolical acts which had no parallel in modern times.  The Kaiser started the war for the purpose of dominating the world for which he had prepared an army which had been in course of preparation with the war with France, and he found himself ready made an excuse after the assassination the heir to the throne of Austria and started the invasion of Belgium which had no connection with the case, and ever since conducted the war with such barbarism as has no equal in modern history and hardly and similarity in the history of the world.

Please write soon.  Trusting this will find you all well and with love and good wishes to all,

Your father,                       A.W. McNaughton.

This letter was donated in 1999.

In November 1914, “A” Company of the 59th Bn., left for England to become part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 21st Bn., 2nd Division.  Throughout the war local men served in the 2nd, 38th, and 154th Battalions.

Altogether more than 700 local men served in Europe, seeing action at Hill 70, Amiens, Ypres 1917, Arras 1918 and along the Hindenburg Line and during the pursuit to Mons.

War casualties included more than 234 killed and 397 wounded.

World War I and World War II will be remembered throughout November in a Remembrance Month exhibit at the museum, open Wed. to Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.

Admission is free.

613 936-0280


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