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The following article appeared on page 1 of the 14 Nov 1918 issue of The Simcoe Reformer  

How Simcoe Celebrated

Twenty-four hours was not long enough for the jubilant people of this town to celebrate the signing by the Germans of the armistice.

Getting up at four, putting in the morning and afternoon on the streets, rejoicing with everybody who came along, and then having another go in the evening, when the fire burned high, and when the light fantastic was tripped in the armories, was not enough for many.

Midnight passed, and even then for an hour or two more, merry-makers were stretching out this great day to the utmost, and were reluctant to lose themselves in sleep as long as it could be staved off.

Some people thought that the false alarm of last Thursday and the ensuing keen disappointment would spoil the real joy when the amistice was actually signed, but if any warmth and feeling was missing on Monday, the absence was not noticed.

The kids were out, the "Kith and Kin" were out, in short everyone not bed-ridden, exulted, and made no secret of that exultation, that the long nightmare was coming to an end.

When Monday morning's laundry operations were forgotten by many a housewife, it is easy to see how everyone lent him or herself to the joy of the occasion.

It was about four o'clock in the morning when the bell of Trinity Church announced the good news, and shortly after factory whistles and the town bell aided in notifying the town and countryside that something had happened that would stir the world to its depths. People at so great a distance as Silver Hill heard the commotion, and later in the day came to join the celebration.

Shops opened in the morning, but as soon as Mayor Sihler came down town, shortly before ten, a proclamation was put forth announcing a holiday for the remainder of the day.

The shops that carried flags, fire-crackers and decoration, were besieged by eager crowds, but last Thursday's celebration had pretty well cleaned out the supplies. As it was few houses were without at least one flag, cars and horses were adored, and even the baby carriages and their tiny occupants were decked with patriotic emblems.

As for the small boy, he was in his element. Allowed to ring the bells all he wanted to, and to kill the Kaiser whenever he felts like it, and to make as much noise as he could, he had the gala time of his young life, one that will be told to his children and grandchildren in the days to come, when it is hoped that wars will lie in the dim and distant past.

The elder people, however, did not quite forget the absent ones in France and England, and those who have suffered bereavement in the war made gallant attempts to celebrate with the rest.

There are many homes in this town that while they do not mourn a lost one, yet were obliged at times to wish for the presence of their soldier in order to completely round out the pleasure of this great event.

During the morning the Great War Veterans and the Council planned for the parade to take place in the afternoon, and although the time was so short the affair was a complete success. Gaily decorated cars, huge motor trucks with human freight this time even a handsome three-in-hand helped make up the huge procession, which was led by members of the Great War Veterans' Association, who have during the past four years helped to bring about the present satisfactory conditions With them was a band hastily gotten together of those who could play a hand instrument. Simcoe has sadly missed its excellent Battalion Band, but the services of the musicians on Monday were more acceptable.

A thanksgiving service was held at the drill hall (which by the way was finished in 1914, just after the war began, owing to the policy of Sir Sam Hughes, and which has since settled many huge crowds), with all the Protestant clergymen of the town, with the exception of Mr. Farney, who was forced to be absent from town during the afternoon, taking part. Dr. Dey was in charge. Private John Pratt of the G.W.V.A. called the gathering to order. Hymns of praise and prayers of gratitude were offered in accordance with the desire of the Government of Canada that a religious character be given to the celebration Rev. Mr. Newcombe, chaplain of the 133rd Battalion, emphasized the wonderful change that had taken place within the post few months, and after him came Rev. Mr. Moir. Judge Boles presented the case of the Victory Boards, urging that the patriotic duty of buying these guarantees of continued prosperity for Canada be fulfilled at once and that each one help in putting the county "over the top" by Saturday night.

Early in the evening, the bonfire was built, and the Kaiser's effigy taken about town by the sholdier's [smugged] was placed on top of the [pile]. When the blaze drew the figure into its embrace, the cheering of the assemblage rose to the heavens, and again when the effigy collapsed.

The dance in the armories was much enjoyed by spectator and participant, but the modern dances have almost entirely superseded the old-time square dances. One item of the program, a clog dance, proved to be to the liking of the crowd. The fun was carried on until after eleven o'clock.

The Walsh band has been a part of the program at the Delhi celebration, and not wanting to miss anything, journeyed home by way of Simcoe, stopping off here for a time about 12:30. Their playing attracted quite a crowed of spectators, some of whom took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy another dance or two on the pavement.

So ended a day never to be forgotten by loyal Simconians.


Some parade, wasn't it?

As the Kaiser was licked by the fire, somebody uttered that pertinent remark, "Where do you go from here?"

Simcoe people may be classed as cold and unenthusiastic, but they broke through their reserve on Monday.

The Union Jack was not the only flag that was flown, but of course, it predominated. The Stars and Stripes came next.

Simcoe had no railwaymen to take an unaccustomed holiday as did some cities, but the postoffice was shut up tight. Even the telephone girls tried to do some celebrating between calls.

The Victory Bond car was one that should have attracted general attention, but for the beauty of its decorations and for the message it conveyed to the crowd. Have you got your Bonds yet? Only two more days.

Among the many beautifully adorned cars was one that was especially appropriate: A huge Union Jack was supported above the car driven by Miss Vina Lea, and upon it stood her bull-dog, King, a representation of the well-known picture, with its message, "What  We Have, We'll Hold."

Only one serious accident marred the whole day. Hugh Prentice, a returned soldier, made an attempt to get upon a moding motor truck, when he was knocked under one of the back wheels., which passed over his thigh close to the body. He was removed from the place of the accident on Robinson street to the office of Dr. Grasett for treatment.

Some may criticize the use of the fuel that fed the flames of the bonfire on Monday evening on the ground that its warmth would be vastly appreciated before the winter is over. Possibly so, but there are people who will gladly endure some cold for the privilege of remembering the warmth of heart they experienced on the occasion of the down-fall of the pseudo-kaiser, symbolical as it was of his real downfall.


Copyright 2015 John Cardiff