By BOB McCARTHY
On January 18th of 1915, just a few months after the beginning of World War I, the St. Clair Primary Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire was first formed.
A meeting was held that day at the residence of Mrs. W. J. Hanna for the purpose of forming a Primary Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. The following officers were elected:
Regent – Mrs. W. J. Hanna; First Vice Regent – Miss Pardee; Second Vice Regent – Ms. R. B. McBurney; Secretary – Miss Milne; Treasurer – Miss Rooney; Standard Bearer – Miss McVicar
The adopted motto was “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it – with thy might.”
Proposed names for the new chapter included:
Sir David Beatty, Wawanosh, St. Clair, King Albert. The name adopted would be St. Clair.
It is the first anniversary of the founding of this group. Let’s listen in as the Regent and Secretary summarize their first year and read aloud their first Annual Report.
Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire – St. Clair Chapter – February 1916
“Ladies” Mrs. Hanna began “With our wonderful and patriotic country of Canada involved in this horrible war against our Mother Country and our Monarch, Canada had no choice but to become involved in this fight for democracy. So many local soldiers and sailors have volunteered and are now overseas fighting against the Hun. It was thus so natural then that our chapter, the St. Clair Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire should spend so much of our time looking after the needs of our husbands, our sons, our lovers, our brothers, our neighbours who are protecting the Empire over in Europe. Miss Milne, will you please read from our first Annual Report?”
“Gladly, Madame Regent. From our very first day meeting, our Chapter has undertaken to help out the Red Cross in its efforts on behalf of our boys over there. Many of our members have met every Monday at the houses of different members. At first, the cotton for bandages was donated by different members and after we had made some money it was purchased by the chapter, but since November the Red Cross have given us all supplies.
“The first money raised by our chapter was $47.40 at a bridge at your home, Mrs. Hanna.
“With five dollars of this money, we bought seven packages of gum which we sent to Dr. Bentley at Le Touquet for distribution among the Sarnia men with him.
“When we had used nearly all of the money buying Red Cross material, we had another bridge this time at the Lake Huron hotel in July and we realized $62.00 from this well-attended activity.
“On August first we assisted the Pro Patria Chapter to sell tags for the Patriotic Fund and between us we collected $1,235.00.
“In September we raffled a tea cloth donated by Mrs. F. F. Pardee and realized $54.00 on it.
“On November 22nd, we held a Christmas shower for the soldiers which was well attended. $44 was taken in at the door.
“Two large bales were sent to Hyman Hall to be sent by them to the soldiers in the trenches.
“In December with the Pro Patria Chapter we undertook the work of the Empty Stocking Club and looked after nearly 200 poor children of the city.
“The total amount of Red Cross supplies shipped by our chapter since May first of last year1915 is as follows: 238 dozen bandages, 115 dozen small surgical dressings, 260 dozen large surgical dressings, 10 dozen cheese cloth handkerchiefs, 4 dozen towels, 365 wash cloths and 2225 mouth wipes. Total amount of money raised in our club activities has been $202.00.
“Since January 4th of last year, we have given the following donations.
“$25 to Mrs. Campbell in London for the Motor Ambulance to be presented to the Red Cross by the Daughters of the Empire in No. 1 Military District.
“$10 to Mrs. Bruce National Treasurer for the wallets which the National Service Committee sent to the soldiers on active service at Christmas.
“$20 to Mrs. Bruce National Treasurer for the Annex to the Maple Leaf club for soldiers on short leave in London England.
“$5.00 to the War Relief Fund November 22nd 1915”
Following a few murmurs and comments from the ladies assembled, Mrs. Hanna rapped her gavel and said “Please continue, Miss Milne.”
“Ladies, please allow me to read a few of the entries from our first year as a chapter.
“Entry on May 1, 1915 – Amount of goods shipped with the Red Cross shipment on May 1st 1915, comprised of 25 dozen bandages 3", 24 dozen surgical dressings 6" by 7", 10 dozen cheese cloth handkerchiefs 18" by 18", 4 dozen towels, 300 wash cloths 10" by 10", 2000 mouth wipes 4" by 4"
“ Entry on June 10, 1915 – Amount of goods shipped with the Red Cross shipment that day included 24 dozen small dressings, 12 dozen large dressings, 29 dozen bandages, sent – Dr W. Bentley and Sarnia Boys at Le Touquet seven packages of Spearmint gum April 21
“Entry on November 22, 1915 – with money raised at the Christmas shower for the soldiers at the front, we were able to send 4 fruit cakes, five cans talcum powder, 23 packs playing cards, 1 package blotters, 41 lead pencils, 3 toothpaste, 12 pens, 6 packages envelopes, 26 pairs of socks, 11 shaving creams, 1 pair bedroom slippers, 135 cakes soap, 2 sweaters, 11 boxes ointment, 3pair wristlets, 60 packages cigarettes, 11 pairs mitts, 16 plugs tobacco, 25 handkerchiefs, 33 packages T and B, 19 Oxo cubes, 79 packages Old Chum, 45 packages chocolates, 10 plugs smoking tobacco, 2 lb boxes candy, 2 boxes cigars, $11 worth of gum, 1 wash cloth, 3 scarfs, 100 rolls toilet paper, 41 writing pads, $10 worth of fruit cakes, 2 plum puddings, $10 worth of pipes, $1 tooth cake gum, 3 cans peanut butter, $2 tooth brushes, 1 camphor ice, 5 boxes note paper, $2 worth of blue ointment, $2 of insect powder, 2 hair brushes, $1 of tooth powder, $2 worth of shaving brushes, 2 tooth brushes, 2 shaving soap, $2.95 Riley’s Toffee, 2 pipes, $2 of Oxo, $6 worth of cake biscuits, ½ dozen boxes pen points, and gum toffee.”
Two years later – Third Annual Report
“Ladies,” Miss Milne, still secretary, began “During the last 12 months, our chapter has raised $825. This amount includes generous contributions from Mrs. Hanna $25, Miss Robinson $5, Miss Milne $10, Mr. Thomas Towers $25, Miss Margaret Hanna $5, Mr. R. V. Lesueur $25, “The Willing Workers” $26, Mr. Hanna $5, Mr. McBurney $4, and the 149th Battalion Band Fund $50.23.
“Since the last annual meeting the knitting machine has been in the care of the Misses Milne, Miss Pardee and Mrs. McBurney. $418.75 worth of wool for knitting has been purchased from the funds of the chapter. In addition to outside orders, 802 pairs of socks have been knitted by the members of the chapter and their friends. These socks have been sent in parcels containing 20 pairs to different Sarnia men who are serving in France. Twenty trench caps, 4 vermin shirts, one sweater, 1 pair of mitts, have been sent as well.
“Mrs. Robert Gibb, Mrs. Robert Gurd, Mrs. William Kenney, Miss Bessie Symington, Mrs. Jones, Miss McKay and Miss Robson have donated socks for this purpose. Mrs. Milne has donated a trench cap. A considerable profit has been made from the sale of sock forms. The chapter has been fortunate having two lots of these donated, one by Miss Milne and the other by Mr. C. H. Belton.
“The expenses of a Prisoner of War have been paid for one year. Mrs. W. H. Kenney has paid half the amount. Two cards have already been received from the Canadian Red Cross society in London England stating that No. 8664, Pte. F.F. Jollineau, 2nd Battalion has received parcels of food from this chapter.
“Our chapter has given four entertainments during the year. The first was in an Easter tea and sale of homemade dainties and useful articles at the home of Mrs. McBurney. On June 23rd an afternoon bridge party was given in the Lake Huron Park Pavilion. On July second the chapter served tea at the golf club. The cigarettes sold were donated by Mr. McBurney. In November another afternoon bridge party was given in the City Hall and in September the chapter had a “Tea Room” at the Sarnia Fall Fair.
“Fifteen Christmas parcels were packed and sent to Sarnia men serving in France. Each parcel was valued at $4 and contained 14 articles. The socks in these parcels were donated by Mrs. W. H. Kenney.
“On Dec. 8, our chapter assisted by the Pro Patria Chapter held a tag day for the Navy league of Canada. $658.75 was collected and forwarded to the national treasurer. In addition the chapter has assisted on the tag days for the French Red Cross and the Salvation Army hats and Miss Barrie in selling the Christmas stockings.
“From the funds of the chapter various amounts have been given to social service work $13.60, Serbian relief work $15, the French Red Cross society $50, the British Red Cross society $25, the Christmas dinner fund of the 149 Battalion $10, and the I.O.D.E. home in Halifax for unclaimed children $25. Moreover each member has contributed one dollar towards a Residential Club for Canadian Nurses in London England.
“The following men were sent socks by the chapter:
Captain D.A.G. Parsons MC, Private J. Ward, Private C. Randolph, Private A. Cameron, Driver F. Lucas, Private A. Chambers, Flight Lieut. J. Mavity, Private W. A. Ross, Sergt. G. Proctor, Corp R. Cameron, Gunner E. Howard, Private W. Lawrence, Gunner R. Mellon, Captain D.A.G. Parsons MC, Lieut. A. Crawford DSO, Bombardier J. MacKenzie, Major H. M. Pardee, Captain A. Bentley, Driver K. McKee, Private A Elias, Lance Corp Myles Smith, Private A. G. Baker, Private Stanley Smith, Driver J. Goodison, Trooper N. Knowles, Driver D. Jones, Bombardier J. MacKenzie, Private R. Page, Sergt. D. Dyble, Major H. M. Pardee, Driver M. Gleason, Flight Lieut G. Lucas, Lieut L. Leseur, Sapper W. Storey, Lieut L. Jarvis, Private C. Randolph, Lieut-Col L.E. Jones, Driver H. Cowan, Driver A. Rose, Captain D.A.G. Parsons MC, Private H. Taylor, Lieut J. Newton, Private P. Neil, Lance Corp D. McLean, Private J. Etherington.
“Ladies, we should be proud of our efforts. We are certainly doing our part here at home for King and Country.”
HISTORICAL NOTE from the author:
Mrs. Hanna, first Regent of the St. Clair Chapter of the IODE, was a benefactor to her hometown. According to the web site for Hanna Memorial school,
“Maude Hanna was a Sarnian, our namesake, who had a special place in her heart for all children. She loved nature and made a point of preserving it to its fullest. Mrs. Hanna was formerly Maud McAdam, who was born in 1870 and died in 1946.
She married William John Hanna who became the President of Imperial Oil as well as an Ontario Cabinet Minister. Mr. and Mrs. Hanna had two daughters, Mrs. Margaret Spaulding and Mrs. Catherine Sproat.
Maude Hanna is remembered as a kind and generous woman. She was responsible for providing free street car rides to the beach for children. Perhaps her most generous gift was a donation needed for the Sarnia Council to purchase Canatara Park. She later donated more funds in order to purchase Lake Chipican. Her generosity continued with her contributions toward the Sarnia Boy Scouts Association, Lambton Music Festival and learning materials used in schools.
Mrs. Hanna also donated her time to the Red Cross Society and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. As an extension of her fondness of the environment, she spent much of her time with the horticultural society, focusing on preserving nature and making the public aware of pollution.
In 1947, Hanna Memorial School was architecturally regarded as an example of one of the finest schools in Canada. Many visitors, both nationally and internationally, visited the school to see its uniqueness of a one story design. Hanna School deserved a special name and was honoured with one in memory of Mrs. Hanna, a truly outstanding Sarnian.