MSA Draft

February 4, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-04_01

As we saw in January,  the Garden Club started the year running, making plans for the coming growing season.  In 1917, Port Arthur arranged for the ploughing of vacant lands so that they could be planted.  This year, the Garden Club is asking that the City buy their own 2 ploughs and 2 sets of harrows (an implement usually used after ploughing that breaks up and smooths out the surface soil).  They are also starting the registration for garden lots right away and selecting the seeds which will be purchased.

February 4, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-04_02

The Port Arthur Intercity Committee met with Fort William City Council, both Cities’ Boards of Trade, and the farmers of the Slate River Valley District to discuss extending the Mount McKay and Kakabeka Falls Railway into the Slate River Valley to more easily transport the Valley’s farm products to the City markets.  This is all related to the push for increased food production for the war effort.  With the amount of milk and produce shipped from the District into the two Cities annually, all parties agreed that the line should be extended.  Fort William agreed to negotiate with the railway company to ensure that the work could go ahead.  The line was to be extended from its current final stop at Murphy Park to either the Steel Bridge or St. George’s Park. The farmers were pleased with the proposed extension even though it did not go all the way into the Slate River Valley, it extended further into Neebing and was easier for them to access.  The Mount McKay and Kakabeka Falls Railway operated a 8 km track through Neebing and Paipooge that connected with the Street Railway system in Fort William.

“From the information submitted, there is no doubt whatsoever, but that the extension of this line to the Slate River Valley would mean not only a large increase in the produce of that District but also tend to lower prices in the two Cities on the products from the farmers there.”

February 4, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-04_03

On February 2, Canadian Northern Railway officials started confiscating all hard coal in the Port Arthur and Fort William area to ship it immediately to Winnipeg, despite it being held by Walsh Coal Co..  Port Arthur immediately contacted F.H. Keefer, the Union Government M.P. for Port Arthur and Kenora.  Port Arthur City Council was concerned that the coal that their citizens needed, especially in February, remain in the city.  They started the process of obtaining an injunction on behalf of Walsh Coal Co. to stop the confiscation and authorized the Mayor to take any further action necessary to conserve the coal supply.   The Fuel Controller (see below) had the right to confiscate coal in emergency circumstances, which you can see on February 7, there was a world shortage of coal due to “shortage of labor and of transportation.”

February 4, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-04_04

In December, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Great War Veteran’s Association had asked Port Arthur City Council for $100 to host a Christmas Festival for the families of soldiers.  The Council received a letter thanking them for the grant.

February 4, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-04_05

Along with the Food Controller, the Canadian Government had appointed a Fuel Controller, to encourage management of the country’s fuel supply.  The Fuel Controller was supposed to stimulate Canadian coal production and ensure the supply from the United States. Each municipality was required to appoint their own Local Fuel Commissioner to manage fuel locally, here, Alderman Wright has been appointed from the Port Arthur City Council.

Heatless Days

February 4, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-04_06

The joint meeting of the Port Arthur City Council and the Board of Trade discussed the war effort in the city.  A suggestion was made to bring prisoners from England over to construct a roadway between either Sudbury and Port Arthur or Port Arthur and Winnipeg.  It was decided that the greater national importance was to develop natural resources, not to build a road.  Mr. Walter Russell was added as a Committee member to look into the development of a local branch of the Navy League and Training Ship, as discussed in January.

They also discussed National Production (referring to the production of food), and that the labour shortage of farm workers could be helped if a call were put out to school boys and women and perhaps the lumbermen when they finished the season “if the farmers would offer wages adequate for these men when they come out of the woods.”  They also decided to hold a joint meeting with the Farmers Club of McIntyre, Oliver and Dorion to discuss ways of increasing production, and to post a notice in the newspaper that farmers should contact the Market Committee to tell them what labour they would require in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and that “all persons, boys, men and women”  willing to work on farms should submit their names to the City Clerk.  They also discussed the Market Committee’s request that plots of land in the mostly vacant Strathcona Addition be used for raising pigs but decided to bring it back to the next Market Committee meeting.

February 7, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-07_01

As we saw on February 4th above, there was a coal problem in the Lakehead due to the world shortage and Port Arthur City Council held a special Council meeting on Thursday, February 7th, to deal with a conservation order from the Fuel Controller.  They declared every Saturday and Monday as Civic Holidays, which would conserve the vast amounts of fuel needed to heat large businesses and schools for those days.  It also freed up all able people to assist with chopping wood in the Strathcona Addition to provide an alternate fuel for the citizens.  This wood chopping would also be allowed on Saturdays and Mondays.  The Licence and Relief Committee was to organize public meetings to explain the coal shortage and what individuals could do to conserve coal as well as organize and supervise the wood cutting and arrange for cheap hauling of the cut wood.

February 12, 1918 – Fort William:1918-02-12_01

Fort William City Council received a letter from Port Arthur City Council about holding a joint meeting to “Consider the merits and demerits of the union of the Cities of Fort William and Port Arthur.”  Discussions about amalgamating the two cities had begun as early as 1910. It was brought up again, presumably because the Cities participated in so many joint ventures during the war.

February 12, 1918 – Fort William:1918-02-12_02

Both Cities were dealing with how to get more local produce to the tables in the Lakehead.  With transportation costs and farm labour shortages, farmers were looking for help from the cities.  Here Fort William City council received a letter from a farmer, Mr. W.S. Sitch, about “special privileges in connection with the selling of his farm products.”

February 12, 1918 – Fort William:1918-02-12_03

The Cities were still receiving requests for donations from various organizations for the war effort.  Here the Patriotic Society was asking Fort William City Council for a grant of $38,000, which is equivalent to almost $530,000 today.

February 12, 1918 – Fort William:1918-02-12_04

The City of Fort William also had a movement to put all of the vacant land to use for gardens, it just does not show up in the city council minutes as often as the effort in Port Arthur does.  Here, Miss Merrick, the secretary of the Vacant Lot Garden Association forwarded a letter from the Hudson Bay Company “asking that the City guarantee that there will be no increased taxation for the removal of noxious weeds on lands given by the Company for free gardens.”  Fort William charged a tax for cutting down weeds to owners who had essentially abandoned their lots.  They agreed that lot owners who were giving their lots to the use of the Vacant Lot Garden Association would not be charged the costs of cutting the weeds so that gardens could be planted.

February 13, 1918 – Port Arthur:1918-02-13_1

A Navy League was proposed in January and referred to the Finance Committee.  Here the Committee discusses it and sends a representative to discuss the matter and get all of the details.

February 13, 1918 – Port Arthur: 1918-02-13_2

In another effort to increase food production, the Port Arthur Market Committee recommends that Council lease up to 5 acre plots of land in the Strathcona Addition so that individuals could grow larger crops than what a simple garden plot would produce.  They would be on 5 year renewable leases and the only rent would be the taxes for the property.  The land could be handed over to the City on demand with the understanding that the City would give an “amount sufficient to cover breaking the land, and to make a reasonable allowance for the growing crop…or allow the owner of the crop time for same to mature.”

February 13, 1918 – Port Arthur: 1918-02-13_3

A joint meeting of Council and Citizens was held on February 11th to discuss cutting wood on the Strathcona property and Port Arthur City Council adopted their recommendations at their next meeting.  They recommended that anyone could cut wood for their own use in the Strathcona Property on Saturday and Monday until March 1 provided they piled the tops and limbs and reported to the City Engineer.  They also recommended that people wishing to cut wood could register during the week and then get transportation to the property from the Whalen Building at 8:30 am on Saturday the 9th and Monday the 11th.

February 13, 1918 – Port Arthur: 1918-02-13_4

In August and September 1917, we saw the discussion that Canadian grain should only be used for food purposes and not to produce alcohol in Canada.  Here the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) is asking that Port Arthur City Council support their position that Canadian grain being shipped overseas be used for food only as well.  Council notified them that they were “in thorough accord with the sentiments expressed in this resolution.”

February 18, 1918 – Port Arthur: 1918-02-18_01

In the February 13th minutes above, the Market Committee asked that larger plots of land in the Strathcona Addition could be leased.  Here the draft leases have been created and will be forwarded to the Market Committee for review.

February 25, 1918 – Port Arthur: 1918-02-25_01

Hogarth was the Conservative M.P.P for Port Arthur but was also the Quartermaster-General for the entire Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Here the Port Arthur Finance Committee congratulates him on his promotion to Brigadier-General but also expresses concern that Port Arthur has not been “actively represented in the Provincial Legislature, for the past three years…” while he has been overseas.  They pass a resolution to contact the Conservative Association and the Unionist Advisory Committee to get them to either call Hogarth back to the legislature or the elect someone else to take his place and represent the region.

Home Service

February 25, 1918 – Port Arthur:


The Port Arthur Market Committee decided to write to the principals of the Public and Separate schools and the Secretaries of the school Boards “urging that action be taken systematically” so that boys and girls would plant gardens individually and as class groups “so that the maximum production may be secured” and that they be instructed in how to care for the gardens over the summer.  Members of the Committee would arrange to go to the schools three weeks before planting to “make full arrangements for co-operations with the teachers in their efforts.”  They also appointed the judges for the Children’s Gardens and that they would judge the gardens on July 10th and August 20th, and authorized the market superintendent to order the seeds that the children and the Garden Club would need.

At the same meeting, the Market Committee also appointed Alderman Roberts as the Chairman of the Food Control Committee and approved the estimated amounts needed of $1,300 for the Market and $1,000 for the Garden Club (approx. $18,000 and $14,000 in today’s dollar).  They also decided to create a bulletin board in the Clerk’s office where they could lay out a map of the garden plots in the City and post information sheets.

For more information on food during the war years, see Food Control.

February 26, 1918 – Fort William:

The City of Fort William proposed authorizing their Fuel Committee to purchase wood to be delivered in the City and sold by retail through the fuel merchants.  This proposal was voted down and lost.