“Canada Stands Ready and Awaits the Call to Arms” shouted the headline on the front page of the September 18th, 1922, Peterborough Examiner, and just like that the shadow of major international conflict was once again looming over Canadians. That situation, as you might imagine, was dominating headlines this week 93 years ago, but it was not all bad news in Peterborough. Read on, for notes about the war worries, but also about Peterborians taking in the big Fall Fair!
The foreign crisis being nervously watched by Canadians was developing in what is now western Turkey, and had come about because of the partitioning and occupation of the former Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. Like everything having to do with that conflict, it was a very complicated situation, but the short form is this: Britain, France, and Greece had occupied parts of Asia Minor and the lands to the immediate west of the Dardanelles, and the Turkish National Movement, under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and with the support of the newly-created Soviet Union, wanted them back. Fighting, particularly between Turks and Greeks, had begun in 1919, and by September of 1922 the British were becoming particularly worried that TNM armies would attack the “neutral zone” established around Istanbul. British reinforcements were on their way to the area, and, as noted, diplomatic requests were being made of the various Dominions of the British Empire.
The September 18th Examiner hastened to reassure its readers that there had been, in fact, no official request for Canadian troops, not yet at any rate. Rather, the British government had merely asked “whether they desired to be associated with any military steps that might become necessary,” and new Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King was considering recalling Parliament, or at least his Cabinet, to consider the question. Nonetheless, there was little doubt that Canada would send soldiers again if the situation required it. “The Dominions had hoped that the Great War had put an end to conflict,” wrote the Examiner in an editorial on the 18th, “but if war must come they will be found ready to stand their share of the burden.”
Fortunately, the crisis was defused without the need for Canadians to go overseas once again. An armistice was signed later on in 1922, and peace conferences in 1923 would set the boundaries of Turkey more or less as they stand today.
Apart from the diplomatic goings-on, it was a fairly quiet time in Canadian domestic politics. One interesting debate, however, was taking place concerning the celebration of the end of the Great War. Armistice Day had been amalgamated into the celebration of Thanksgiving Day, on the Monday closest to November 11th, but many felt that it should be observed separately on the day itself. The Examiner, in a September 13th editorial, pronounced itself in agreement with the call for a separate Armistice Day:
“The anniversary should be set apart as a day of grateful remembrance, not merely as a holiday. And the actual date, November 11th, should be celebrated, not the nearest Monday simply because the selection of Monday provides a good week-end holiday.”
As you are doubtless aware, Armistice Day — now Remembrance Day — did come to be observed on November 11th every year. That change, however, did not occur until 1931, when Thanksgiving Day was moved to its current position in early October.
Turning to matters in Peterborough herself, there was exciting news on the sports beat. The Central Ontario Baseball League season was wrapping up, and the Peterborough club, by virtue of being the first-half winner, was set to take on Belleville in the best-of-three championship series, with Game One slated to take place on the 20th. Sadly, although the series would go to a third and deciding game, it was Belleville that won it, and advanced to confront the Toronto Hillcrests in the Ontario Baseball Association semi-finals.
However, even with important baseball impending, the big local news story around Peterborough was the second annual Industrial Exhibition, which was going on this week. The inaugural edition in 1921, which we touched on briefly last week, had been a roaring success, and organizers were hopeful for even bigger and better things. The weather was not at all inclined to cooperate (it had been something of a wet summer in general), which kept people away from the first couple of days of the Exhibition, but even so, the final numbers had more than 25,000 people passing through the turnstiles over of the four days of the event.
The main attractions of the Exhibition were the exhibits put up by various manufacturers, from both Peterborough and elsewhere. On September 15th, the Examiner gave a description of some of the most popular displays. The newspaper noted a “model kitchen in blue and white color scheme” assembled by the Cressman Company, describing it further as “a model of time- and step-saving as well as beauty in kitchens.” The Turnbull Company had brought along a selection of Oriental rugs, making their exhibit “one of the most striking in the building.” From a local firm, the Cornell Knitting Company, was a display of wool clothing in “a striking galaxy of shades, combining to produce and acceptably colorful picture, pleasing to the eye of both sexes.” And there were other such things to be seen.
But perhaps the biggest attraction from among the manufacturers’ displays was to be found at the J.M. Greene Music Company booth. J.M. Greene, whose showroom was on Charlotte Street, was the district distributor for the Northern Electric Company, and so the display featured one of the newest radio sets available, broadcasting music from the Eastman School in Rochester, New York. The radio set was already becoming a standard piece of household equipment, but was still new-fangled enough that the Examiner could describe it as “the latest wonder of the scientific age.”
If wonders of the technological sort were not to your taste, there was livestock on display as well (“[t]he display of cattle and horses is particularly encouraging,” wrote the Examiner on September 14th). A team of draught horses belonging to William White of North Monaghan won the heavy hauling contest, pulling three tons of iron 60 feet — more than twice the distance of the second place team!
Over in the flower enclosure, the gladiolus display drew the particular attention of the newspaper reporters. On September 16th, the Examiner noted that the gladiolus had been suggested as a suitable national symbol of Canada, and opined: “[t]he Dominion could hardly have a lovelier [symbol] than these vari-hued stately beauties, with their pure color tones and lasting radiance.” The florists in attendance were perhaps the only folks happy about the wet weather, as it helped preserve their wares through the entire four days of the Exhibition.
And finally, there was the midway itself, where all manner of musical performances, carnival games, fireworks displays, sports events, and moving picture shows were to be found at various times. It was not quite as thrilling as the organizers had hoped; one of the companies hired to provide amusement park rides had gone bankrupt shortly before the exhibition, so there was some unanticipated empty space. However, a good time seems to have been had by all, or at least by most, and the September 16th Examiner described the atmosphere on the midway:
“…’La donna è mobile’ mingled its foreign strains with the appeals of the gentleman across the way to buy a ‘Smile’ for a nickel, with the muffled, megaphone-clouded utterances of the ‘hot-dog’ man, and the weary tones of the pessimistic vendor of ‘beer, beer, beer.'”
With Prohibition being in effect in Canada at the time, that would be root beer he was selling, which may partially explain the pessimism!
And that is about it for mid-September of 1922, although you can read up here on what was happening in Peterborough back in 1870. Next week, we’ll take a look at what was happening later on in the month in 1923!