of Windsor families lost fathers, brothers and sons in the First
and Second World Wars. While children in Europe lived in the
midst of the battlefield, Windsor children- though not having the
war raging on their doorstep- nevertheless felt its impact. Aside
from the absence of a father or older brother or sister, daily life
more or less continued as always. Children went to movies, played
in vacant lots, and attended school. But, then again, there were
World War I, children planted Victory Gardens to help combat food
shortages at the front. Contests were held for best planned and
most productive garden planted by a child. And there were changes
in the menu at home.
1917, the Walkerville Women's Group's "Win the War" campaign,
with Mrs. C.J. Stodgell as president asked households to observe
two days per week without wheat, beef or bacon, to ensure the men
at the front received enough food. Even though Walkerville was 3,500
miles from the front, alarm struck close to home in the early morning
hours of June 15, 1915. Residents were awakened by the noise of
an explosion at the Peabody Overall Factory on Riverside Drive near
Devonshire Road. An investigation revealed that it had been a sabotage
attempt; uniforms for British and Canadian troops were being processed
at the factory.
was also an abandoned attempt to destroy the Armouries in downtown
Windsor. Lingering fear and uncertainty led to the establishment
of the Essex County Home Guard.
boys, struck by a sense of duty, joined the Canadian Service at
a young age. Others, like future Windsor mayor David Croll, were
less successful. In 1915, the army accepted him, but his parents
put a stop to it as he was only 15 years old. In 1917, he tried
again, but this time the army said no.
the Armistice of 1918, life did not instantly return to routine.
A flu epidemic was sweeping the globe, and children were often its
first victims. And for those lucky ones who hadn't lost a father,
there was the reacquaintance with a parent many barely knew.
World War II, children again bid farewell to their fathers and older
siblings. (In 1939, Croll now a father of three, finally got a chance
to serve his country.) While British children withstood daily air
raids, Windsor school children received lessons in blackout preparation.
Windsor also played host to several British 'guests', children who
had been sent here to live for the duration.
the men away, the farms in Essex County were in need of labour and
many children spent their summers working in the fields. Groups
like the Kiwanis Boys Band performed to raise funds for war aid
and during both wars, children in Guiding and Scouting groups were
active in war work. They paid special attention to their First Aid
training, and assisted The Red Cross with donations of money and
goods to be sent overseas.
Mitchell, a former Guide leader, remembers that camp trips were
held locally to save gas and tires. Older children were taught how
to turn off gas and water, do domestic repairs, and dial a telephone
in the dark in case of blackout. Girls took courses in nutrition
and preschool psychology, in case it became necessary to care for
significant occurrence, that was to have lasting repercussions was
when mothers went out to work for the first time, and older daughters
followed in their footsteps. In 1942, the federal Director of Nutrition,
after a cross-country tour, declared that the nation's children
were suffering from malnutrition and neglect. So many women were
working in the factories and other war efforts, that he recommended
regulated nursery schools and that meals be served in public schools
to combat the problem.
November 11, as we again remember the service and sacrifice of the
men, women and children of Windsor, we must also remember those
families living in fear around the globe due to current violent