Wednesday, December 28, 2016

World War Wednesdays: First World War Christmases After the Truce, 1916

British troops celebrating as best they can in a trench, 1916, Imperial War Museums
     I hope everyone had a great Christmas and that there are lots of leftovers for this week! I thought I'd put together a brief post on this World War Wednesday for you to enjoy while relaxing, which is a follow-up to last week's about the 1914 Christmas Truce on the Western Front. Part of why the story of the truce is so spellbinding is the fact that it was never repeated, making it the only period of ceasefire between the start of the war in 1914 and Armistice in 1918. I thought it might be interesting to explore what those other First World War Christmases may have been like, as demonstrated through the London Free Press (curated by @LdnOntWWI on Twitter) and photos from Britain's Imperial War Museums.

     According to a press report of unknown origin from 19th December 1916, the legendary Truce was confirmed as a unique phenomenon which was not to be repeated:
Many Christmas Presents For Men in Trenches, but They Will Fight All Day 
With the British Armies in France, Dec. 18 (Via London from a Staff Correspondent of the Associated Press)-- Thousands upon thousands of packages from "home" are pouring in for the soldiers of the British empire fighting in France, as harbingers of Christmas, but the usually glad season of "peace on earth, good will to men," will bring no cessation of hostilities this year, and Christmas day promises to go down in history as just another twenty-four hours of ceaseless shelling and war activity all along the line.
This promises to be the most bounteous Christmas of the three the British "Tommies" have spent on the foreign field of battle, and the problem of transporting the big and little parcels cross channel and through the various stages of progress to the very front trench itself has been one not easy to solve for even Christmas tokens cannot be allowed to interfere with the real business of the war-- the constant bringing up of shells, shells, shells.
Through rain, fog and darkness, by day and by night, the British guns ceaselessly pound the German trenches. Prisoners recently captured say that the effect of the everlasting drumming of the guns drove them insane. Captured letters written from the trenches speak of the terrors of the constant shelling. "Death is far better than this," wrote one private to his wife.
     This message to presumably British and Commonwealth readers appears to be an attempt at boosting morale on the home front and reassuring relatives of soldiers that their men were going to enjoy at least some comfort that Christmas. It also portrays the British as having the upper hand in the battle and generates hope for the coming year. 
British troops purchasing geese for their Christmas dinner in the marketplace at Bailleul, December 1916, Imperial War Museums
    Closer to home, the London Free Press had its own uplifting Christmas message for readers in 1916:
Merry Christmas! Message to People of Forest City
Hope For Victory In War Before Another Yuletide Is Generally Expressed.
Anglicans Suffer Heavily, Says Bishop
Leading Citizens and Clerics Join In Kindly Wishes For Their Fellows
Greetings from official London and from eminent representatives of the clergy of many denominations were communicated to citizens of the Forest City through The Free Press this afternoon.
Three Christmases under war conditions find Canadians with an even more fixed resolve to have their part in bringing the great European cataclysm to a victorious termination, and from all sides come expressions of sympathy with those who have come under the conqueror's temporary sway, of satisfaction that Canada is able to enjoy the blessings of peaceful domestic conditions, and of confidence that before another Yuletide comes, right and justice will have been restored by the overwhelming force of allied arms.

British troops (the soldier on the left thought to be of the Worcestershire Regiment) purchasing mistletoe from women on a market, Montreuil-Sur-Mer, December 1916, Imperial War Museums
   Finally, the Christmas Day 1916 edition of the Free Press published a message to all British empire troops from King George and Queen Mary: "District Headquarters to Communicate Royal Good Wishes to Men in Khaki To-Day:"
King George and Queen Mary Send Greetings to All Troops Of the Empire Confident They Will Achieve Victory
Special Message of Cheer to the Sick and Wounded Wishes Speedy Restoration to Health
Two Christmas messages from the King and Queen to the soldiers and sailors of the empire were received yesterday at district headquarters here for publication.
One of the messages was to troops on land and sea everywhere in the empire. The other was particularly addressed to the sick and wounded. Her Royal Highness the Queen joined in the message of cheer to those suffering from wounds or disease. Both greetings will be communicated wherever possible to the men concerned today. Following are the two messages as received by cable yesterday morning:
"To the sick and wounded:
"At this Christmastide, the Queen and I are thinking more than ever of the sick and wounded among my sailors and soldiers. From our hearts we wish them strength to bear their sufferings, a speedy restoration to health, a peaceful Christmas and many happy years to come.
"George, R. L."
The general message read as follows:
"I send you, my sailors and soldiers, hearty and good wishes for Christmas and the new year. My grateful thoughts are ever with you, for victories gained for hardships endured and for your unflinching cheeriness. 
"Another Christmas has come around and we are still at war, but the empire, confident in you, remains determined to win. 
"May God bless and protect you.
"George, R. L."

     I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the Christmas season exactly a hundred years ago, and I appreciate your taking time out of the relaxing part of the holiday season to read it! Many thanks to @LdnOntWWI on Twitter and the Imperial War Museums. 
     Thanks for reading,
Delany Leitch (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Christmas Truce, 1914

     When we think of the First World War, which, for many of us, was a regular occurrence this year, we often think of a period marked by unprecedented levels of horror and hardship with no clear rationale. Indeed, between 1914 and 1918, over twenty-five million people were killed or wounded around the world. However, what we do not often reflect upon are the moments of joy that did come from those mud-filled trenches; the few periods of respite from the suffering and carnage. I feel that World War Wednesdays would be remiss if we did not dedicate one of the most legendary of such moments to the annual Christmas post, and hope it will serve as another humbling reminder of how fortunate we are today.

     It was during the first Christmas of the war when men from both sides of the Western Front laid down their arms, emerged from the trenches, and shared in food and drink, games, and fellowship in an unofficial and illicit truce. While it lasted, it was an extraordinary flicker of humanity amid one of civilization's darkest hours, even prompting the sober Wall Street Journal to observe: “What appears from the winter fog and misery is a Christmas story, a fine Christmas story that is, in truth, the most faded and tattered of adjectives: inspiring.”

British and German troops meeting in No-Mans's Land during the unofficial truce. (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux-Rouge Banc Sector), Imperial War Museums

The first signs of abnormality began appearing on Christmas Eve, when at around 8:30 p.m. an officer of the Royal Irish Rifles reported to headquarters: “Germans have illuminated their trenches, are singing songs and wishing us a Happy Xmas. Compliments are being exchanged but am nevertheless taking all military precautions.” Further along the line, both sides serenaded each other with carols, including the German "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) and "The First Noel" by the British, as scouts cautiously began meeting in No Man's Land between the two sides. The war diary of the Scots Guards reads that a Private Murker “met a German Patrol and was given a glass of whisky and some cigars, and a message was sent back saying that if we didn’t fire at them, they would not fire at us.” 

     An important thing to remember is that this same basic understanding seemed to occur in various places all down the Front, with various groups of enemy soldiers arranging their own form of spontaneous Christmas truce. The most detailed estimate, made by Malcolm Brown of Britain’s Imperial War Museums, is that the truce extended along at least two-thirds of British-held trench line that scarred southern Belgium. Private Frederick Heath on the British side included in a letter home that “all down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: ‘English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!’” Then, the voices added: "‘Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.’ For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity—war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn—a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired."
British and German soldiers fraternizing at Ploegsteert, Belgium on Christmas day 1914, Imperial War Museums 

     According to Smithsonian Magazine, several factors contributed to the Christmas Truce. For one, the men in both sides of the trenches would have become veterans by December 1914, familiar enough with the realities of combat to have diminished the idealism they had carried with them to war that August, and most longed for an end to the bloodshed. They had so firmly believed that the war would be over by Christmas, but yet still they fought, freezing in rudimentary dugouts. Then, on Christmas Eve itself, several weeks of mild yet miserably soaking weather yielded to a sudden and hard frost which created a dusting of ice and snow along the lines. As a result, men on both sides felt that something spiritual was taking place.

     Interestingly, it was only in the British sector that the troops noticed at dawn that the Germans had placed small Christmas trees along the parapets of their trenches and responded with conviviality. As the Smithsonian discusses, this could be attributed to the fact that the Russians at that time still adhered to the old Julian calendar, which observed Christmas as January 7, and the French would have generally been far more sensitive to the fact that Germans were occupying about a third of France at the time. 

     The obvious language barrier between English and German meant that communication was difficult among the newly-acquainted troops, but they quickly found a common interest in "football" (soccer). Somehow, in one section a ball was produced, and British and German soldiers proceeded to take pleasure in kicking it about in a match which the Germans claim to have won 3-2. Due to the subsequent atmosphere of downplaying and condemning the truce on the part of the British, some of the most detailed accounts of the football matches come from the German side. These report that the 133rd Royal Saxon Regiment played a game against Scottish troops, which was reflected upon in a 1960s interview by 133rd participant Johannes Niemann: 
     "The mist was slow to clear and suddenly my orderly threw himself into my dugout to say that both the German and Scottish soldiers had come out of their trenches and were fraternizing along the front. I grabbed my binoculars and looking cautiously over the parapet saw the incredible sight of our soldiers exchanging cigarettes, schnapps and chocolate with the enemy. Later a Scottish soldier appeared with a football which seemed to come from nowhere and a few minutes later a real football match got underway. The Scots marked their goal mouth with their strange caps and we did the same with ours. It was far from easy to play on the frozen ground, but we continued, keeping rigorously to the rules, despite the fact that it only lasted an hour and that we had no referee.  A great many of the passes went wide, but all the amateur footballers, although they must have been very tired, played with huge enthusiasm... Us Germans really roared when a gust of wind revealed that the Scots wore no drawers under their kilts—and hooted and whistled every time they caught an impudent glimpse of one posterior belonging to one of “yesterday’s enemies.” But after an hour’s play, when our Commanding Officer heard about it, he sent an order that we must put a stop to it. A little later we drifted back to our trenches and the fraternization ended."

     Overall, the Christmas Truce was a temporary respite from the horrors of battle for both sides of No Man's Land that fateful night. In most places, it was accepted that the peace would be short-lived, but in a few cases the ceasefire was allowed to persist into the new year. After that, there were no further truces until the armistice of 1918 which many, if not most, of the Christmas Truce participants did not live to see. For those who did survive the war, it was certainly not something to be forgotten, and that story lives on in infamy a hundred and two years later.
     Many thanks to Smithsonian Magazine for the information. If you are interested in a phenomenal filmic portrayal of this story, I encourage you to check out Joyeux Noel (2005), which is based on a true story and includes the perspectives of Scottish, German and French forces during the truce. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and safe and relaxing holiday, and thank you for taking the time to read this post.
Delany Leitch (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Christmas at Auschwitz

SS officer Karl Hoecker lights a candle on a Christmas tree only weeks before the liberation of Auschwitz, USHMM
     Thanks for bearing with me through some weird technology weeks! As of now I believe things are back to normal and hopefully that won't ever happen again. I realize that this week's topic is a bit dark for the holiday season, but I've been doing some work on the Holocaust lately and happened upon this story. It's important to point out before we start that the Jewish prisoners would not have observed the holiday, but Christian Polish inmates did celebrate to the best of their ability during the five Christmases during the camp's operation. In addition, the Nazis employed at the camp held their own horrific festivities, as will be mentioned. These descriptions come from the testimonies of Polish prisoners who survived the infamous death factory and were compiled by the Auscwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

     The first Christmas Eve behind the barbed wire in 1940 was one of the most tragic, and created a terrible tradition which was repeated in subsequent years. On the roll-call square, the Nazis set up a Christmas tree complete with electric lights. Beneath it, they placed the bodies of prisoners who had died while working or freezing to death at roll call. Former prisoner Karol Świętorzecki later recalled that Lagerführer Karl Fritzsch referred to the corpses beneath the tree as “a present” for the living, and forbade the singing of Polish Christmas carols.
A Christmas tree standing in front of Block 15 in Auschwitz I, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
     The next year, the Nazis organized another dark Christmas. During the return from slave labor on the construction of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, they killed around three hundred Soviet POWs who were too weak to walk that day. According to an eyewitness account by former prisoner Ludwik Kryński, there was a second roll call at 6:00pm after the SS men had finished the first roll call and eaten their supper. In temperatures well below freezing, the prisoners were forced to listen to Pope Pius XII's Christmas Eve proclamation recited in German. Forty-two prisoners succumbed to the cold, and numerous others were brought to the point of nervous breakdowns at the sight. 
     Prisoners also tried to celebrate in their blocks and attempted to help their fellows whose spirits had been broken. An account in the Museum collections by Józef Jędrych from Block no. 10a describes how “the singing of German carols began, and then like the waves of the sea came the powerful words [from a Polish carol] ‘God is born, the powers tremble’ and others, until the final chord in the form of the Dąbrowski Mazurka [the Polish national anthem]. Everyone exchanged warm, cordial embraces and cried for a long time. There were those who sobbed out loud. . . . Such a grand moment never fades from memory. That Christmas is fixed forever in my heart and memory.”
     Henry Bartosiewicz smuggled in a small Christmas tree, which stood in room 7 block 25. Polish Army cavalry-platoon commander Witold Pilecki, a hero of the camp resistance movement, adorned it with a White Eagle carved from a turnip.
Christmas Eve Władysław Siwek. Auschwitz State Museum (APMA-B-I-1-107)
     The Germans set up another tree at Auschwitz II-Birkenau in 1942 and once again placed the bodies of murdered men beneath it. Former prisoner Krystyna Aleksandrowicz recalls their deaths: Before Christmas in 1942, the SS men put up a Christmas tree for us. On Christmas Eve, they gathered the labor details from the men’s camp and ordered them to carry soil in their coats. They shot any man who gathered up too little soil. Then they stacked a whole heap of corpses underneath the Christmas tree.”
     That Christmas was twenty-two year-old Walentyna Nokodem's first at the camp, and she later reflected on that horrible tree: "I remember my first Christmas in Birkenau. There was a Christmas tree and they gathered us up in the roll-call square, and under the tree they put the bodies of man, the bodies remained there for the whole Christmas, and they forced us to look at them. They put the Christmas tree by the end of our section, just by the barbed wire. I can't remember exactly but there were hundreds of bodies of male prisoners. It was my first Christmas in the camp. The women didn't want to look. We all cried."
     In her Auschwitz Chronicle, the late Danuta Czech, the Museum historian, notes under the date December 24, 1942 that, in the evening, Polish women prisoners in the Stabsgebaude [staff building] lighted candles on a fir bough that had been smuggled in. Carols were sung in many places around the camp, which lifted people’s spirits and gave them hope of surviving. In Block 18a, Christmas Eve had a religious dimension. A prisoner who was a Roman Catholic priest obtained some bread and used it as a substitute Host.

     By 1943, the November arrival of new camp commandant Arthur Liebehenschel had improved the prisoners' lives and there were no macabre "presents" that year. Many of the Polish prisoners received communion wafers in parcels from their families and shared them with other prisoners, including the Jews. In many blocks, the prisoners organized Christmas observances. 

     1944 was the last Christmas spent at Auschwitz. Since the days of the Third Reich were numbered, the holiday atmosphere was completely different. Father Władysław Grohs de Rosenburg, the prisoner priest, was even allowed to hold a midnight mass. The women in Birkenau prepared “Christmas gifts” for the children in the hospital, using material supplied by other women to sew about 200 toys. They attached two lumps of sugar or a piece of candy to each, and wrote the children’s names on the presents. One of the women dressed up as St. Nicholas and passed out the presents on Christmas Eve. Fifteen children from another block also received presents.
    Auschwiz-Birkenau Museum historian Teresa Świebocka says that in 1944, Leokadia Szymańska, who was then a patient in the camp hospital, made a small Christmas tree that is now part of the Museum’s collections. It features Polish flags and a Polish eagle at the top.
     The camp was liberated shortly after, on January 27, 1945,  finally granting the wishes made during the five Christmases observed there.   

      I hope this glimpse into some of history's most terrible Christmases was an interesting and thought-provoking reminder of how much we all have to be grateful for this holiday. I'm looking to explore the camp's celebrations held by Nazi guards and staff next week so that the two stories can be compared. Thanks so much for spending part of your busy holiday season reading this post!
     Delany Leitch (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Monday, December 12, 2016

St. Nicholas Visits Backus-Page House Museum

On Saturday, December 10th we were blessed to have St. Nicholas visit the museum.  He told stories and sang Jingle Bells accompanied by Bard Judith on the keyboard.  Hot apple cider, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies were served by museum volunteers.  The house was decorated and toys were left out to play with, while beef stew and bread were cooking on the woodstove.  Here's some pictures and video from the event.  Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!!!

Video Links

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Successful Christmas Dinner in the Museum

On December 3 & 4 we hosted our annual Christmas Dinner in the Museum to 32 wonderful guests.  The museum was decked out with greenery, candles, lanterns and we were dressed in our 1850s finery.  Special thanks goes to all the volunteers who assisted with preparations, during the meals, and clean up afterwards.  Without you, the museum cannot offer these fun programs for visitors.  Here are some pictures and video from the weekend.

NOTE: The waiting list for 2017 Confederation Christmas Dinner is fairly long so we anticipate being sold out when we release dinner tickets in March, 2017.  If you are willing to assist with cooking next year, perhaps we can offer more than one weekend of meals.





Thursday, December 8, 2016

Don't Miss A Visit with St. Nicholas on Saturday

1pm storytelling is SOLD OUT!  Order your ticket right now for 3pm or 7pm.  We can squeeze a couple more people in at 10am if needed.  519-762-3072

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

World War Wednesdays: A Taste of 1918

      My sincere apologies for the lack of a post last week! Right after I told you all I'd never miss a week too. After some very frustrating technical difficulties we're back up and running and all is (hopefully) right with the world again. Let's get right down to business!
      I once had a professor who would make the whole class recipes from wartime and Depression-era cookbooks as an excuse for her to test out some risky historical concoctions. Since I can't do that for all of you, I thought it might be just as fun to take a look at some First World War recipes from the 1918 book Foods That Will Win the War and How to Cook Them. It was published in New York by C. Houston Goudiss, Food Expert and publisher of The Forecast Magazine, and Alberta, M. Goudiss, director of the School of Modern Cookery. Its foreword begins with:
     "Food will win the war, and the nation whose food resources are best conserved will be the victor. This is the truth that our government is trying to drive home to every man, woman and child in America. We have always been happy in the fact that ours was the richest nation in the world, possessing unlimited supplies of food, fuel, energy and ability; but rich as these resources are they will not meet the present food shortage unless every family and every individual enthusiastically co-operates in the national saving campaign as outlined by the United States Food Administration."

     Obviously, the work served a double duty as a patriotic source of encouragement for the American folks on the home front. For us today, it's a fascinating glimpse into what was being asked by everyday citizens in terms of lifestyle changes for the purpose of saving resources for the war effort. In general, Goudiss and Goudiss recommend one wheatless meal a day in every family, two meatless days per week, and each person to use one teaspoonful less of sugar each day. 

     Here's what they argued in terms of the economy of wheat:
     "Waste in your kitchen means starvation in some other kitchen across the sea. Our Allies are asking for 450,000,000 bushels of wheat, and we are told that even theirs will be a privation loaf. Crop shortage and unusual demand has left Canada and the United States, which are the largest sources of wheat, with but 300,000,000 bushels available for export. The deficit must be met by reducing consumption on this side of the Atlantic. This can be done by eliminating waste and by making use of cereals and flours other than wheat in bread-making." 

     Alternative ingredients for bread-making include cornmeal,  oatmeal, rye, barley, and mixed grains. Here are some of the bread recipes I thought might actually be fun and rewarding to try:

Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fat
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cooked oatmeal
Sift dry ingredients. Add egg and milk. Add fat and cereal. Beat well. Bake in greased tins for 20 minutes.

War Bread
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
11/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons fat
6 cups rye flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cake yeast
To the boiling water, add the sugar, fat and salt. When lukewarm, add the yeast which has been dissolved in the lukewarm water. Add the rye and whole wheat flour. Cover and let rise until twice its bulk, shape into loaves; let rise until double and bake about 40 minutes in a moderately hot oven.

Potato Pancakes
2 cups chopped potato
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups of hot water
Boil potatoes in the skins for fifteen minutes. Pare and chop fine or put through food chopper. Mix potatoes, milk, eggs, and salt. Sift the flour and baking powder and stir into a smooth batter. Thin with hot water as necessary. Bake on a greased griddle.

     The book's section on meat saving is probably one of the most fascinating, as it includes some "scientific" opinions from the time that make the reduction of meat consumption sound fashionable and attractive:
     "Dr. Harvey W. Wiley has stated that the meat eating of the future will not be regarded as a necessity so much as it has been in the past, and that meat will be used more as a condimental substance. Europe has for years used meat for flavor rather than for nutriment. It would seem that the time has come for Americans to learn the use of meat for flavor and to utilize more skillfully the protein of other foods."

     This section also calls for an increased use of organs in meals, and outlines some methods for preparing such things as brains, heart, kidney, liver, tripe, and pigs' feet. Here are some of the meat-related recipes that wouldn't actually turn your stomach at the thought:

Actually, never mind. None of them sound appealing. Here's a meat alternative main dish that the authors recommend:

Macaroni with Cheese
Over 1 cup of cooked macaroni, pour this sauce:
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons fat
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated American cheese
Melt fat, add dry ingredients. Add liquid slowly. Bring to boiling point. Add cheese. Stir until melted and then pour over macaroni.

Let's skip to the sugar-saving desserts to round off the meal:

Oatmeal and Peanut Pudding
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1 cup sliced apple
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Mix and bake in a greased dish for 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold. This is a very nourishing dish.

Wartime Fruit Cake
1 cup honey or corn syrup
1 tablespoon fat
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates, figs, prunes, or raisins
3/4 teaspoon soda
2/3 cup milk
Cream fat, honey and egg. Sift dry ingredients. Add alternately with milk. Bake in loaf 45 minutes in moderate oven.

Soft Cinnamon Cookies
1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons fat
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
Mix molasses, fat, and boiling water. Sift dry ingredients. Add the liquid. Add enough more flour (about four cups) to make dough stiff enough to roll out. Cut and bake about 15 minutes in moderately hot oven.

Wartime Taffy
2 cups corn syrup 
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons vinegar
Boil the syrup for fifteen minutes, then add the soda. Cook until a little snaps brittle when dropped in cold water. Add the vinegar when this stage is reached and pour into oiled pans. When cool enough to handle, pull until white; make into inch-thick rolls and clip off into neat mouthfulls with oiled scissors, or chill and break into irregular pieces when cold.

"To provide adequate supplies for the continuing year is of absolutely vital importance to the conduct of the war, and without a very conscientious elimination of waste and very strict economy in our food consumption, we cannot hope to fulfill this primary duty."
-President Woodrow Wilson

     I hope this little glimpse into the First World War kitchens across America was an interesting and useful venture! Some of the desserts would make great Christmas gifts for that history buff on your list who continuously asks for outrageously-priced war relics and artifacts from niche market dealers in faraway countries. If you're interesting in sharing a little piece of 1918 this holiday or if you'd like to read more of this fascinating book, it is available as a free eBook through Project Gutenberg. If you do decide to whip up one of these recipes, please share a photo of the finished product! Happy cooking!
    Thanks for reading, 
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ontario Parks Statement regarding Fencing at John E. Pearce Provincial Park

The fencing recently installed at John E. Pearce Provincial Park is necessary to help ensure public safety due to the dangers associated with erosion of the bluffs, as well as to minimize damage to the bluffs by unauthorized access.  The location of the new fence is in accordance with the park’s management plan; the fence replaces an existing, partial fence that was in poor condition, and aims to limit unauthorized public access to the eroding bluffs and other sensitive natural and cultural features.  The fencing will be clearly signed prior to the opening of the park in 2017.
Environmental impacts of this project were assessed in a project screening approved under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves.  During the screening process, impacts to species at risk, sensitive habitats, archaeological sites, and other wildlife (including deer) were considered; mitigation measures were identified to minimize any potential negative impacts (including identifying a 4 foot high fence that would not impede the movement of deer).
 The parking and picnic area will remain accessible to the park visitors during the park operating season.  Should members of the public wish to access the Lake Erie shoreline, the E.M. Warwick Conservation Area, located west of John E. Pearce Provincial Park, provides a staircase and access to the beach.
 Visitors to John E. Pearce Provincial Park may also be interested to know about the ongoing restoration project in the park.  This work is being undertaken by Ontario Parks and a number of partner organizations to restore wetland function to an area formerly used for agricultural purposes.  Additionally, the Tyrconnell Heritage Society continues to have a significant and positive role in day to day operation and management of the park.

For additional information, contact Rhonda Card, Park Superintendent ‎at 519-874-4691 or<>