Women of Britain Say - "Go" - World War I British poster by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, art by E J Kealey (Restoration)
By E J Kealey (artist) Parliamentary Recruiting Committee (copyright owner/commissioner) Hill, Siffken & Co. (L.P.A. Ltd.) (Publisher) Adam Cuerden (Restoration) (Te Papa Tongarewa (The Museum of New Zealand)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Parliament re-opens

Freed of most of the usual frills and fanfare, the new Canadian Parliament’s session opening was also freed of Prime Minister Borden, who was too ill to attend. When he addressed the MPs, Canada’s war contributions front-and-centre, from the bumper crop of wheat to the steady stream of munitions. He also echoed Militia Minister Sir Sam Hughes’ assertions that conscription was not a Canadian option, as there was a great faith that men would voluntarily fight for Freedom.

Spies, spies, everywhere are spies

One month ago German diplomat Franz von Papen was expelled from the US, for his alleged complicity in planning attacks on Canadian and US targets, including the Welland Canal and the rail bridge between St. Croix, New Brunswick and Vanceboro, Manie.  This week The British Foreign Office publicised his papers, including information on payments made to various people (agents, saboteurs, what-have-you).  The German embassy admitted to frequently giving Papen large sums of money, but claimed not to know the money was used for nasty schemes.  By exposing his affairs, the British Government hoped the US would drop their resistance to the British blockade. In an unrelated note, Germany’s Conservative leader blamed the US for prolonging the war, saying Germany had “enjoyed the splendid feeling of being innocent of all the horrors of this war.”

To grocer, to grocer to buy a not-so-fat pig

Few were surprised when Canadian cost of living and Consumer Price Index statistics were released: in 1915,  the weekly basket’s bill increased from $7.97 to $8.13 (from $160.69 to $164.02—see note on price conversion). Flour and bread prices fell, while butter, cheese, eggs and potatoes rose.

Here in Berlin, issues related to the market not keeping pace with the city’s growth were aired. If it had a larger space and kept longer hours, more suppliers would come in and more people would be served. Once the radials project is complete (see background), growers who lived farther out would be able to come into the city and sell their produce to locals. The current system’s early morning openings favoured some 300 nearby farmers who could easily get into town and set prices. Shoppers who arrived after 8 am risked being out of luck.

According to a Berlin News-Record editorial, the local market charged Toronto prices (or near enough) for farm produce, but at nearby grocery stores in Elmira, eggs and butter were cheaper than the market. By keeping prices high (and running out of goods early), the market bled customers to stores. On average, each family bought an estimated $240 ($4841.90) worth of farm produce every year. The paper implied if the market mended its ways, a quarter of the bill could be shorn, with the savings used for other priorities.

“We deplore the fact that our young men apparently do not realise the seriousness of this great struggle…” 

The 118th Battalion’s disappointing recruitment results were well known: every day The News-Record published the names of the dribs and drabs who signed up, often counterpoint to Galt’s seemingly effortless and far more successful battalion-raising efforts.

Berlin City Council orators took the issue in hand: some chastised the city’s young men, others offered moving testimony about how they would sign up, if not for the fact they were married with children (and apparently unaware that married men were also serving in the King’s army). One invoked The Crusades’ ideological battle, with clear anti-Muslim comments. Many who spoke were Board of Trade members, which  Lieutenant-Colonel Lochead (the Battalion’s commanding officer) also led. Council moved a meandering and slightly florid (as was the style of the time) resolution supporting recruitment efforts, asking war-dodgers “in the name of Freedom and Justice to stop parading the streets and don the khaki.” The last few lines of the resolution targeted “obstacles” to enlistment:

“We appeal to the fathers not to use their influence against the enlistment of sons who are able to take their places with the men who are fighting for Freedom, Liberty, and Civilization. We urge mothers, sisters, and sweethearts to place no obstacle in the way of loved ones who are anxious to play the MAN in this great world struggle. Realizing that is for the sacredness of Home and Womanhood that the allies are fighting we appeal to parents to encourage their sons to “fight it out in their hearts” and their conscience will tell them their place in the front.”

The message bolstered a thundering full-page recruitment ad, with an emblazoned headline: “Have you mothered a Man?” The resolution also worked hand-in-glove with the Canadian Club women’s plans to sway personally potential recruits into signing up by pressing the subject of “manly courage” in a way that rallies couldn’t.

Meanwhile, complaints about the 118th’s recruitment tactics continued. Lochead assured News-Record readers he would hear these complaints, but adamant that “no young man should resent being asked why he is not wearing the khaki,” hinting any perceived issue wasn’t with the recruiters, but with the layabouts. And so as to not waste recruiters’ time, he thought it a “splendid idea” to have the medically unfit self-identify by wearing buttons. With hundreds of empty bunks at the barracks, it appears he thought the ends justified the means–four sign-ups and “quite a number of young men have signified their intention of joining as soon as they can obtain their parents’ consent” resulted from the soldiers’ behaviour.

Want a bit more information?

The Recipe


On 15 January 1916, a little girl named Edna Louise Cress celebrated her 10th birthday. I’m not sure if at the time anyone could foretell her future, but she grew up to be an important figure in journalism, food writing and a local treasure. Edna and I became friends late in her life, something I’ve documented in Cardamom Addict {http://cardamomaddict.blogspot.ca/search?q=staebler}. She was encouraging and warm as we talked about life, food and writing.

I opened my copy of the 1898 New Galt Cookbook  to find a cake to celebrate Edna’s day. 10 year-olds enjoy chocolate as much as 100-year olds, so I decided on Mrs. Radford’s chocolate cake. Don’t let the title fool you—it’s not a chocolate cake as we know it—it’s a plain cake, iced with chocolate. It’s also a plain cake, devoid of baking powder or bicarb, leavened with frothy egg whites. I quipped on Instagram it was a chocolate-covered pancake cake—it was tightly crumbed and not very tall. Tasty, but for my own edification, I baked another, with baking powder, which made all the difference. The original recipe is provided, with my suggestions in the notes that follow.


Chocolate Cake

recipe from The New Galt Cookbook

One and one-half cups sugar, piece butter size of an egg, one cup milk, two eggs, two cups flour. Beat butter to a cream, add yelks of the eggs, beat whites to a froth, then add sugar, then flour and then milk last. Frosting: six tablespoonfuls chocolate grated, four tablespoonfuls confectioners’ sugar, enough boiling water to make a thick paste. Spread between layers and on top of cake.”

Chocolate Cake (Modern equivalent)

Yield: one 20cm layer cake (8”)

For the cake

2 2 2 Eggs, separated
55g 62ml ¼ cup Butter, room temperature
300g 375ml 1-½ cup Sugar
300g 500ml 2 cups All-purpose flour
250ml 250ml 1 cup Milk


For the icing

50g 90ml 6 tablespoons Grated chocolate (see notes)
  62ml ¼ cup Icing sugar
      Boiling water

Butter and paper one 20cm (8”) round cakepan. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Whisk the egg whites until medium peaks form.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the flour and milk in the usual way (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry), scraping down the bowl’s sides once or twice. Incorporate the egg whites by first stirring in half the whites and then gently folding in the remainder, taking care to not deflate the whites, but to also ensure the batter isn’t streaky.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour or until the top is dappled golden, the sides pull away from the pan and an inserted skewer comes out cleanly. Allow to completely cool before icing.

To ice the cake, mix the chocolate with the icing sugar, adding enough boiling water to make a spreadable paste. Ice the top of the cake.


  • I found the amount of icing made with this recipe far too little for even the scantest layer of icing. I tripled the icing recipe used on the photographed cake, (to have enough to coat the top and sides).
  • The original recipe posits this as a layer cake, but given the lack of lift, I’m recommending it as a single layer cake.
  • What I’d do differently:
    • Give it a boost: Sift the flour with two teaspoons of baking powder
    • Divide the boosted batter: Divide the batter between two 20cm/8” cake pans
    • Cover it up: If you’re the type to ice your cakes (I’m not), make five times the recipe’s icing for the boosted cake; three times the icing if following the recipe as-is

Comments are closed.