Easter Proclamation of 1916
Easter Proclamation of 1916

Irish Uprising

News from Ireland was slow and—at least at first–sparse. Apart from cut communications lines, London’s censors vetted the uprising’s details, leaving many in the dark. By the end of this week—10 days after the rebellion began—more than 100 people were killed or wounded, the street fighting subsided, and more than 1000 insurgents were prisoners.

English reporters proudly proclaimed the “backbone of the rebellion had been broken.”  Three of the seven men who signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on 24 April, Éamonn Ceannt, Seán Mac Diarmada, and Joseph Plunkett, were sentenced to three years imprisonment. The remaining four— Thomas J Clark, James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh, and Pádraig Pearse—were executed.

Articles focussed on who were involved and captured.  Many were “of the intellectual class” and prominent members of the Irish literary movement. “The remarkable feature of the uprising was the large number of women who took part in it, wearing the masculine uniform of the Sinn Fein. Many of these women are among the prisoners, and the British government is seriously exercised over the problem of what to do with them.”

Production and thrift

Here, in Canada, the Department of Agriculture’s 250-page 1916 War Book not only recorded Canadian agricultural statistics, but also carried dozens of pages devoted to home economy and household efficiency: “…no nation could carry on a war costing nearly half its national income, and at the same time go on living as before.”

Canadians were told to cut down on everything from meat to imported goods. Waste was the enemy: householders were warned against cooking over too high a fire, cooking more food than needed, unwholesome foods, and out-of-season and imported foods. According to the Toronto Department of Public Health, “It has been said that more is wasted in a Canadian home in one week than would keep a French family for two weeks, and there can be little doubt that there is much truth in this statement. Nearly every day in very many homes enough is thrown away to make most valuable soups, and garbage cans far too often reveal most deplorable waste.”

Citizens alone can save the identity of the 118th as a military unit

With training camp only a few weeks away, and the 118th Battalion still nowhere close to full strength, the Recruiting League’s patter took a survivalist tone. No longer solely about fighting for King and Country (and other such patriotic chestnuts), signing up men became a matter of the unit’s pride and identity.  Any undersubscribed regiment were threatened with disbanding, and their soldiers sent to other companies. “Is it a matter of indifference to our citizens as to whether we are known as the North Waterloo battalion or are split up among other battalions?” read Colonel Lochead’s open letter to employers and citizens. “Surely from every point of view, it is desirable to keep our men together.”

Hundreds of pretty ladies bedecked in charming and chic spring costumes

Meanwhile, a “monster parade” launched the new recruitment campaign. Five hundred women from local IODE Chapters and factory girls’ clubs marched from the barracks, down King Street to the recruitment office. Their banners were emblazoned with such catchy and forthright phrases as “Protect your wives and mothers!” “Protect your children!” and “We would go if we could!” Ten thousand cheering spectators jammed sidewalks, porches, doorways, and windows to watch what was sure to be “the most memorable parade that has ever been seen in Berlin.”

For a bit of excitement and competitive fun, teams vied for $500 in prizes (almost $10,000 – see notes on conversion). The money wouldn’t be divided between the winners, but donated to “some patriotic fund.” Stores and offices were “besieged by fair recruiters” hunting for local slackers. “The question, therefore, is: shall the physically fit, eligible men of Berlin bow in submission to the ‘sweet will’ of the fairer sex?”

Some men took the presence of such patriotic fair maids as an opportunity. Unsurprisingly, a local financial services employee “passed an insulting remark to the young lady who sought his enlistment for the 118th.” What he didn’t realise was, his name was on the soldiers’ books “and woe betide “Mr Freshy” when they get their hands on him.”

Dear Santa: What we want for Berlin before Christmas is military police

Most soldier-related incidents didn’t appear in the local English-language papers (or, I suspect, in court), but it was more than apparent some of the 118th thought they had carte blanche to do what they wanted and punish whomever they saw problematic. Two weeks earlier, a pressganging incident saw Herman Schnarr was in court for striking a soldier who tried to pressgang him into service. Last week, another soldier broke PC Belvins’ jawbone for serving him with a subpoena for another assault.

The city’s police commission unanimously passed a resolution to petition Col. Lochead to establish a military police in Berlin. Mayor Hett intimated Militia Minister Sir Sam Hughes was aware of this matter. According to Hett, something had to be done soon to maintain law and order.

Make it unanimous

With the public vote two-and-a-half weeks away, a citizens’ meeting set the name-changers’ agenda and arguments at public meetings and household canvasses.

Meeting participants offered compelling reasons to rename the city. The current name was a slur. Getting rid of “Berlin” was proof of British loyalty. Removing the name was to remove the stigma for future generations (so they could “be something”). And there was the melodramatic  statement, “I will have to move from the city if the name is not changed!”


• For more information about the Easter Rising, visit Easter 1916 

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The Recipe

IMG_0298 160505 Bread1 980x480

This week, Berlin’s bakers raised bread prices to 7¢ ($1.38) per loaf. Until now, locals had been spared the increase—according to Mr Dietrich, the city had held off on the hike as long as possible. He explained to a Berlin News-Record reporter, because ingredients were more expensive, there was a new war tax on malt, and increased wages all meant shoppers had to bear the burden. According to Dietrich, “wages have gone up in all shops, most of the bakers have enlisted. We can’t get the help, girls won’t do the night work nor will they peddle bread.”

Bread is at once easy and difficult to make. It’s only a handful of basic ingredients, but an inattentive baker can produce a horrible lump of dough. To me, the key point is yeast is a living thing and as such can be a temperamental beast. It is subject to too many “toos” that come with experience: don’t let the water be too hot, don’t let the dough be too dry, and don’t prove for too long or too short a time.

Bread by G Debus. (1906 Berlin Cookbook)

One cup of lukewarm water, half a teaspoonful of salt, 3½ cups of flour, ½ yeast cake.
Dissolve the salt and yeast cake in the luke warm water, sift in half the flour to make a batter and beat until smooth and stringy, sift remaining flour into a large pan, make a well in the centre, pour in the batter and cover with flour, cover with a towel, set in a temperature between 77 degrees— 95 degrees F. over night (10-12 hours). In the morning mix into a dough with the flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Grease the bread pan and put the dough back in it. Cover, set in same temperature as before until double in bulk. Turn out on a board, knead slightly, mould in loaves, place in greased pans, set away in pans until double in bulk. Brush top of loaves with water or milk and bake in a hot oven about an hour. Have the oven moderate at first, until the bread stops rising.

Bread (Modern Equivalent)

Yield: 1 loaf


400g 665ml 2-2/3 Cups Bread flour, divided, as needed
235ml 235ml 1cup less 1 Tablespoon Hand-hot water, as needed
5g 10ml 2 Teaspoons Active dry yeast
1.25ml 1.25ml ¼ Teaspoon Salt
      Melted butter


The night before:

Make the starter by dissolving the salt and yeast in the water. Beat in half the flour until you get a smooth but stringy dough.

Put the rest of the flour into a large bowl, and make a well in the centre. Pour the batter into the well and cover with flour. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and set in a room temperature, draft-free space for 10 hours.

In the morning:

Butter a 21cm x 11cm (8-½” x 4-½”/1.2L) loaf pan. Butter a bowl for the next rise.

Mix the batter into a dough and knead until soft, smooth and elastic—add more water or flour, as needed to get the proverbial baby’s bottom. When ready, turn into the buttered bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in volume (1-½ hours, or so)

Turn out on a board, and lightly knead. Press the dough into a rectangle approximately 18cm x 30cm. Fold in thirds, so you have a log approximately 18cm long. Pinch the seams to seal. Set seam side down into the buttered loaf pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled in volume, and the top has crested the pan (1 to 1-½ hours).

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

Slash the top, from stem to stern, and brush with butter. Bake for about 20 minutes (or until the bread stops rising).

Increase the oven temperature to 220C/425F.

Continue baking until done (approximately 40 minutes).

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