Esquimalt Municipal Archives photo A contingent of soldiers from Esquimalt prepare to leave for the Great War. The Esquimalt Municipal Archives would like to hear from anyone who may know of any of the soldiers in this photo

ESQUIMALT HISTORY: Patriotic duty spurred residents to war

Esquimalt residents joined up at Work Point or at recruiting stations set up in Esquimalt and Victoria

By Greg Evans, municipal archivist

“Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War. It names itself.”

This quote from the October 1914 edition of MacLean’s Magazine refers to what is now more generally known as the First World War.

The war broke out 100 years ago and was a conflict on an enormous scale. It is estimated that 70 million military personnel were mobilized around the world. Given advancements in industrial technology and the horrific nature of trench warfare, the First World War was one of the bloodiest conflicts in world history, with more than nine million combatants and six million civilians killed.

When Great Britain declared war on Germany on Aug. 4, 1914, the Dominion of Canada, as part of the British Empire, was automatically drawn into the conflict.

At the time, foreign policy decisions were in the hands of the British government and although Canada was drawn into the war, the level of involvement was left to the Canadian government.

Locally, news of the war was met with enthusiasm. A sense of patriotic duty prevailed as many wanted to serve their country in time of need.

On Aug. 5, the Colonist declared “Canadians Are Ready To Serve – News of Declaration of War Causes Demonstrations of Patriotism in Cities – Thousands of Men Volunteer.”

Three days later, almost as a harbinger of things to come, the newspaper reported “Local Fund For Hospital Ship – Victorian in Mass Meeting Unanimously Endorse Patriotic Proposal of Daughters of Empire’ – an effort to purchase and equip a Canadian hospital ship.

By the fall of 1914, thousands of young Canadians had taken up the call to arms and eventually more than 400,000 would serve overseas.

Many were from Esquimalt who signed up at various locations, including Work Point or at recruiting stations set up in Esquimalt and Victoria. Esquimalt residents who were elsewhere at the time, signed up as far away as Vernon, Valcartier and even at Shorncliffe in England itself.  Some were already serving in the regular army but had to give up their positions and sign on with the Canadian Expeditionary Force because at war’s outbreak, it was declared that it would be a volunteer force.

Soon, many would face unbelievable conditions of war on the European continent.

•••

Greg Evans is Esquimalt’s municipal archivisit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

HarbourCats bats hot in home return

Victoria squad downs Yakima Valley Pippins 17-2

Victoria veteran receives French Legion of Honour, becoming knight of France

Ted Vaughan was a pilot in the 408 “Goose” Squadron in WW2

Witness the passion and fire of flamenco in Victoria this July

Seventh annual Victoria Flamenco Festival features free and ticketed performances downtown

Sidney youth bowl over the competition, head for nationals

Youngsters take Mens and Womens Singles Championships at recent tournament

West Shore resident, local officer encourages women to take control of their safety

Kris Greffard is posting short videos with safety tips for women using local trails and parks

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Most Read