This full-page ad in the Dec. 4, 1914 Herald says just about everything but “only 20 shopping days remain before Christmas.”
“The bubble has burst.” So said the Presbyterian preacher in the Nicola Valley at the approach of the first Christmas of the First World War.
And so repeated the Nov. 27, 1914 Merritt Herald and Nicola Valley Advocate. The headline above its page 1 report of the divine’s sermon the previous Sunday reads “CONDITIONS TODAY PROVE MAN A FAILURE: Interesting Address by Rev. Mr. Hyde.”
“A few years ago many learned men predicted the ushering in of a golden age, when war would cease and social conditions would be much improved,” the newspaper quoted Rev. Hyde as saying.
“But, alas, the bubble has burst, and as far as we can see the golden age is far away and social conditions are bound to become worse under the heavy taxation which this war demands.”
The women of the valley were certainly equal to the demands of war that Christmas.
They, or their Patriotic Guild, sent two loads of clothes and accessories to the soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the fall of 1914. (The men were not yet in the trenches in France and Belgium; they were England, training.)
“Monday was packing day at City Hall . . . ,” the Dec. 4 Merritt Herald reported, the headline “SECOND SHIPMENT MADE BY PAT. GUILD.” “Big boxes, sacks and anything that could be packed in was there, and the many ladies got right down to business . . . .”
Keen as he was on recording the activities and pronouncements of valley residents confronted by extraordinary circumstances, the Herald editor was also keen on encouraging them to remember the ordinary, and their local merchant.
Two pre-Christmas editorials — “Crude Thoughts from the Editorial Pen” — were dedicated to the ideal Christmas present: Better beautiful than essential.
“. . . to the husband and father: Do not make a Christmas gift to your wife of a new carpet or a pair of shoes or a cooking stove, for she needs and has a right to these things,” one “pen” cautioned.
A boxing match on Boxing Day, by column inches much anticipated by the Herald editor, provides a proverbial milepost on the road to the two-day Christmas holiday in Canada.
“Boxing Day in the old country and in Australia has been celebrated in a fine way for many, many years,” the Dec. 11 story announcing the match starts.
“It is just beginning to take hold in Canada, and Merritt promises to make it a banner day as far as the name Boxing Day goes.
“On this day and in this city will take place a real boxing match.”
Nicola Valley Museum
NB: Mike Sasges is looking for men and women to prepare biographies of the more than 40 men from the Nicola Valley who died in First World War battle. Mike’s telephone number is 250-378-6982.