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Excerpt of the Minutes of the Red Cross Society of Brackley Beach, PEI est. 1940

This article was submitted by Ellen Cudmore of Head Office in Charlottetown. These excerpts were taken from the Minutes of the Red Cross Society of Brackley Beach, Prince Edward Island, which was formed in 1940 to help with the war effort.

"Knitting, needles & quilts have all played a major role in the activities of the women of Brackley Beach, a rural community on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, 16 km north of Charlottetown.

Coming together as a Red Cross Society, we gathered at Howe's Hall on 4 July 1940, and elected our first executive. Our purpose was to help in the war effort, to knit and sew articles of clothing and to raise money for the Red Cross.

Supply secretary obtained the yarn – Khaki, Navy and Air Force Blue – and membership dues of 25 cents per person were paid. The importance and commitment to this work is proved in a membership of 21 in the first year – sometimes three generations from one family – grandmothers, young mothers, the school teacher, single ladies, all came together and met every two weeks in members' homes.

Getting to the meeting was by horse and buggy or sleigh with the men having their own gathering in the kitchen and the hostess providing lunch for all. The meetings were businesslike and included programs with articles on Air Raid Victims, Mobile Kitchens, Post War Planning and Flying Bombs. A "work session" with a quilt on the frames and "something on the needles" rounded out the evening.

At this time we were all accustomed to knitting – indeed did not every mitten, sock, hat and scarf come as a result of our abilities – but not all were familiar with following patterns. The Red Cross booklet "Knitting Instructions for War Work" was printed in November 1940 and after looking at the instructions for heavy service socks with shaped leg, double heel and flat toe; toque useful for a sleeping cap, or half mitts with finger sections, we realize the amount of time and skill required for each item and a beginner might well be content to produce a seaman's scarf!! Knitted and quilted into every item in hand were prayers, love and concern for the person who would eventually wear the socks or mittens.

Raising funds was another major effort of our group. Collection was taken at each meeting and often totalled 75 cents to $2.50. Anxious to increase our contribution to the Red Cross beyond what we could contribute individually, a number of projects were undertaken including lectures in the hall, lotteries of everything from fruitcakes to quilts, plays and performances, dances and card parties.

This note from a faithful member has survived the years "Saturday morning. Dear M. Just a line to say our Red Cross Society are having a pay dance (25 cents each) at Mrs. John MacCallums next Thursday night, Nov. 7th. Each member invites four outside of their own family. Now I want to invite you & your "young man," now please let me know right away if you can't come, so I can invite two others in your place. We provide the refreshments. We want to make a little money for the soldiers and have a good time as well . . ."

Funds on hand The treasurer kept a very small balance on hand. On August 28, 1942, the meeting reports a balance forward of $26.58 with $10 paid to the Queens Canadian Fund, $15 to Red Cross and the treasurer was directed to purchase a quilt batt and thread!! We worked on small balances but never deficit financing.

Five young men from our community served overseas and boxes of clothing, fruit, food, and cigarettes were sent throughout the years of 1940 to 1944."

While there were many cares and chores at home, a commitment was made to help in the war effort and we see the sacrifice of time, labour, goods and cash in our rural community. The careful recording of the meetings, finances and discussions have made it possible for us to realize the tremendous effort and faithfulness given through these willing hands.

Ellen Cudmore
Veterans Review and Appeal Board
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