By Ted Ross

Image B-07276 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives

Part Three - 1917 - January to July

Things were getting rough on the seas off Europe in early 1917. On p.1 of the February 15, 1917 Daily Colonist we read, "To Sink Hospital Ships New Threat of Savages; Germans Say Such Vessels Will Not Be Tolerated In Wide Zone Between Britain and Continent." The article following outlines the accusations made by the German government that these medical vessels were carrying troops and munitions. The falseness of these claims is told at great length in the piece.

On p. 2 there are 60 names on the list of Canadian casualties for February 15.

A pair of headlines on p.5 show Victoria was snowbound at the time. The first declares, "Snow Interferes with Camp Routine -- Bantams Clear Sidewalks."

A second states, "Large Force Attacks Snowbound Streets -- Men with Horses and Ploughs to Stay With Job Night and Day Until Traffic Can Be Resumed."

Further down the page an article declares, "Eleven inches of snow fell in this city during yesterday. This is the official record. The precipitation was characterized by its denseness and steadiness between the hours of 9:30 in the morning and shortly after 5 in the afternoon."

Still on p.5 an item tells us, "The box office opens today for the Grand Bantam Vaudeville at the Royal Victoria Theare, and the Bantams hope to see all of their friends...before they leave for England which...will be very soon." The 143d Battalion would be departing for the European war zone in March of 1917, after being assembled a year earlier at barracks in Beacon Hill Park.

The Colonist March 16, 1917 headline reads, "Has Given Up His Throne; Czar Nicholas of Russia." This was the beginning of the Russian Revolution.

An item on p.1 in the same issue says, "Forty-two soldiers in a party of 158 wounded and invalided which arrived in Winnipeg are now on their journey across the Prairies." Broken warriors, young folks, returning home to Victoria to recuperate, if they ever could.

On p.10 an advertisement for the Columbia Theatre shows it presenting, "The Canadian Army in Action," at 25 cents for general admission or 50 cents for box seats.

In the Spring of 1917 the United States declared war on Germany. The Daily Colonist, April 6, carries the front-page headline, "Resolution Passed in House By Overwhelming Majority," followed by the story, "The resolution that declares that a state of war exists, between the United States and Germany, already passed by the Senate, passed by the House shortly after 3 o'clock this morning."

Canadian casualties for this date number 35.

On p.7 a headline reads, "Women of Province Now Have Franchise." In the piece which follows we find that women now, by a bill newly given assent in the Legislature, would be able to vote in provincial elections. This amendment to the Provincial Elections' Act was considered, "... a milestone in the political life of the Province." Today we stand at the centenary of that milestone.

An advertisement at the foot of p.9 promotes the 'New Series Chevrolet Four Ninety' for $695 in Oshawa. It is sold locally by the Begg Motor Company, Victoria, B.C. According to the ad, "The perfected mechanism responds instantly to the will of the man or woman at the wheel."

There is an interesting story on p.13 which reads, "The R.M.S. Niagara, J.T. Rolls, commander, docked at the Outer Wharf at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon from Sydney and Auckland via Suva and Honolulu.

"The Niagara brought...a total of 230 [travellers]. A number of passengers landed at Victoria and a big mail was put off here. The liner brought a capacity of freight from Australia and New Zealand."

The headline on the first page of the Daily Colonist April 11, 1917 states, "Canadians Able to Announce That Far-Famed Vimy Ridge Is Completely Cleared of Enemy -- Seven Lieutenant Colonels Among Prisoners -- Artillery's Work." In the accompanying article we find, "The Canadians did not underestimate the seriousness of the task before them in taking Vimy. [They] were frankly surprised when they saw what their guns had actually done. They found hundreds of Germans holding up their hands over the bodies of their fallen comrades and begging for something to eat...They had been cut off for days from all supplies by the steadiness of the artillery fire."

Canadian casualties for April 11, listed on p.2, were 145.

On p.3 the headline is, "Blow Delivered at Vital Point" with the sub-head, "Capture of Vimy Ridge by Canadians Expected to Cause Retirement of Enemy."

A story on p.7 is a sad one that happened all too often to many Victoria families. "Pte. A.J. Hodgkinson, of Victoria, who left for overseas with the 88th Battalion, has been killed in action, according to word received here by his widow from the chaplain of his unit." Mrs. Hodgkinson had received a letter from the chaplain of the 88th describing the fate of her husband on the field of battle, and his subsequent burial.

On June 14, the Colonist headline is, "Canadian Troops Stand Against Counter-Attack," with the sub-head, "Enemy Makes Vigourous but Vain Effort to Recover Ground Along Sonchez River." We see in the article, "Last night he counter-attacked in the hope of recovering machine gun positions from which a dozen German machine guns were removed in the past few days, and Canadian Lewis machine guns put in their place, all facing to the east. The attack, preceded by a heavy bombardment, broke down completely under Canadian machine gun and artillery fire."

The Canadian casualties for June 14 were 150. None of these actions took place without great loss of life for young Canadians.

The Canadian casualty list for July 7, 1917 consists of 45 names. None was from Victoria this day.

On p.5 of the Colonist for July 7 an advertisement lets us know The People's Groceteria, 749-751 Yates Street, will sell cod fillets for 13 cents a pound, and 'Finest Fresh Grass Butter' for 3lb. for $1.27.

A headline on p.7 proclaims, "Ceremony to Mark Anniversary of War; Victoria for Third Time Will Re-Affirm Inflexible Determination to See Struggle Through to Victorious End." The following article outlines the ceremonies which would be held August 4, 1917.

There is an intriguing leader on p.8. "Coast to Coast Road Construction Urged," followed with, "...be devoted to the construction of a continuous coast-to-coast highway suitable for motor traffic, the said highway to include Vancouver Island and Prince Edward Island." Forty-five years later, in the early 1960s, this road became a fact, with Victoria hosting the western 'Mile Zero' at the intersection of Douglas Street and Dallas Road in James Bay.

On p.11 a B.C. Electric notice tells us, "Trains leave Victoria daily for Deep Cove at 7:30 a.m. and every three hours thereafter until 10:30 p.m. Trains leave Deep Bay at 9 a.m. and every three hours thereafter until 12:00 midnight." The track of that service is today's Galloping Goose trail.

To be continued next month