Greenwood Miners Purchase First Machine Guns For Troops On Western Front


R.W. Nicholson


Greenwood, B.C., is located on Highway No.3, west of Grand Forks, in the Boundary region of southern British Columbia. Incorporated in 1897, Greenwood has the distinction of being the smallest city in Canada.

Prior to the fall of copper prices in 1918, Greenwood was a bustling metropolis of mining activity. This smallest city in Canada even boasted its own smelter. Many of the original buildings remain as reminders of Greenwood's rich and colorful history with the most prominent landmark in the area being the chimney of this long vanished smelter. This very impressive guardian of times-past, stands 31m [121 feet] tall, and is easily seen from the highway on the eastern end of this most memorable town. Greenwood not only has the distinction of being the smallest city in Canada, it also has the most honorable distinction of being the first town in the Dominion to purchase machine guns for Canadian Battalions fighting in the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War.


Greenwood Held As Example In True Spirit Of Patriotism
- Was First to Purchase Machine Guns for Canadian Battalions -
- People Recognize Debt to Veterans Raise Fund and Present Gold Watches to Their Returned Men

Greenwood, Nov, 18 Sir Herbert Ames, secretary of the Canadian Patriotic Fund, in a speech in New York, singled out Greenwood and one or two other towns in British Columbia and gave a statement of their contributions as examples of what can be done in the way of giving when people are animated by a true spirit of patriotism. When one learns that the entire population of this place, men, women, and children, does not exceed 850, and then sees the figures that represent their contributions since the beginning of the war, one is not surprised that Greenwood is being held up as an example to large cities so far away.

In the patriotic work of the town co-operation has been given by the employees of the Canada Copper Smelter and some of the adjacent districts such at the Motherlode Mine, and mines of the Canada Copper Company.

In October, 1914, a campaign instituted by the mayor, Mr. J.L. McBaine, Hon. J.D. McLean and Mr. J.L. White resulted in the organization of a branch of the Canadian Patriotic Fund, in which they had the assistance of and energetic committee who's enthusiasm met with a warm response on the part of the people. The office of honorary secretary-treasurer of this fund has since been held for periods of varying length by Mr. C.B. Winter, Mr. A.H. Manson, Mr. E.E.L. Dewdney, and Mr. P.H. McCurron, who now holds the office. Since the organization of the fund until the first of last August nearly $31,000 has been forwarded from the branch to the provincial headquarters of the fund in Victoria. Of this about $3500 has returned to the town to be distributed among the dependents of Greenwood soldiers.

Unique Distinction

Greenwood has the distinction of being the first town to organize a fund for the purchase machine guns for Canadian battalions. This movement was launched in August, 1915, and the sum of $1850 was quickly raised by public subscription. Two machine guns were purchased which have been in use at the front, but as no more guns of that description were required at that time the balance of the money was turned over to the local branch of the Returned Soldiers' Fund. Those who interested themselves in the movement and took charge of the collections included Mr. E.J. Coles, Mrs. J. Simpson, Mr. H. McCatcheon and Mr. E.E.L. Dewdney, and it was largely due to their efforts that the campaign was so successful. Realizing that something ought to be done to give some recognition to the debt owed to the returned soldier, a committee was formed by the people of the town, whose duty it was to raise a fund for the purpose of giving assistance that might be required by any of the Greenwood men returning from the front. Mr. G.H. Taylor, city clerk, is the corresponding secretary and treasurer. A number of soldiers have been presented on their return with gold watches, by the committee, among the recipients of these gifts being Pte. Clifford Schenek, Pte. George Marfo, Pte. Jack White, Lieut. O.R. Mattews, M.C., and Pte. F.R. Nicholson.

The work of the Red Cross Society has been looked after by the women of the town who through their untiring efforts have been able not only to send generous contributions of money to the headquarters, but have made and shipped large quantities of hospital supplies. Donations totaled $874, and there were shipped 170 garments and five bales of old linen. During that period Mrs. J.D. McLean acted as secretary-treasurer. In 1916 Mrs. Rendell continued as president and the vice-president was Mrs. W.B. Fleming and the secretary treasurer Mrs. E. Potts. In that year the money contributions amounted to $376, and the articles of hospital supplies forwarded numbered 595. There were also made at Christmas thirty-five comfort bags, which were filled with many useful articles for soldiers in hospitals. Last year Mrs. Fleming assumed the office of president; Mrs. Malcolm that of vice-president and Mrs. Potts continued as secretary-treasurer. The donations of money again, went up $814, while the output of work was also increased, the society having to its credit 826 garments, while fifty well-filled Christmas boxes were sent to men from town serving over-seas, and 125 jars of jam and pickles dispatched to the sanitarium at Balfour. Up until the first of August this year's donations had amounted to $281, and 449 garments had been made. The president of the society now is Mrs. W.H. Wood; the vice-president, Mrs. Ashby; the secretary, Mrs. J. Jory, and the treasurer, Mrs. Wilson.  At the beginning of this year Greenwood people decided that in order to avoid overlapping, and to prevent the possibility of one fund gaining an undue share of support, perhaps to the detriment of another, that the best plan would be to organize a central fund with a committee to take charge of all money subscribed for war purposes, such as the Patriotic Fund, Y.M.C.A., and Red Cross. This was accordingly done, and without including sums paid in for the Patriotic Fund, there has been collected through it more than $1339 since the beginning of the year. The committee is in charge of the central war fund, as it is being called.

The smallest city in Canada not only has a rich and colorful mining history, it has contributed significantly to the development of British Columbia and Canada as a nation.

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