A little history–St. Edward's Council, The War Years

November … the month we remember the wars, and their cost, both emotional and physical.  We remember the dead and our deep sorrow; we remember the returning heroes and our relief; we remember and repeat our many thanks in face of our huge debt of gratitude. 

The following sentences and paragraphs have been copied from the book Except the Lord Build the House, a History of Social Concern.

It was in 1940, at the National Convention that President Agnes Hay suggested that a donation be made.  She said “while far removed from the conflict, (we must) realize the imminent danger we are in and that everything possible must be done to assist the Government of Canada…Maybe it’s time to demonstrate our loyalty and justify the existence of a band of women in Canada with the motto ‘For God and Canada. ..” With those words, $25,000 was raised in the period of 6 months, nearly $1 for each of the 30,000 members spread across the country.  And with that donation, made to Prime Minister Mackenzie King, “to be used by the Government as it sees fit”, the national CWL was first recognized by the Canadian government.

Miss Amelia Haley was appointed War Services Convener. Two national representatives were named to the National War Council of the Canadian Red Cross Society.  Senator Wilson asked the CWL to advise and assist the Canadian Government in an undertaking to have refugee orphan children in Canada adopted by Canadian families.  The British Government was considering a plan for overseas evacuation of hundreds of thousands of British children between the ages of 5 and 16… provision had to be made to have Catholic children placed in Catholic homes wherever possible… Material assistance rendered by League members to aid the war effort was almost immeasurable.  Socks, helmets, scarves and bandages were made by the hundreds of thousands; thousands of ‘ditty’ bags were sent to the merchant navy.  Books and magazines sent to the troops, hospitals and camps numbered more than half a million.  An ambulance was purchased, and a mobile canteen was put at the disposal of the CWL in England.  Thousands of religious articles were sent to Chaplains overseas for distribution, while at home, thousands of Masses were offered for victory and peace… On the home front… the war effort had been sustained from 1940-1946.  Not only was their concern for the welfare of the fighting forces but also for that of refugees coming to Canada from their war-torn and ravaged homeland who found welcome and shelter within the CWL organization.  Hostels were built and supported for girls in the Armed Forces and for those working away from home.  The Government was urged to provide facilities in every military camp in Canada for divine worship and CWL members furnished many of these chapels.  In 1942, the National Conventions was replaced by a National Executive meeting at the express request of Archbishop J.H. MacDonald of Edmonton.  This was the only year from 1920 to present that a National Convention was not held…The Wartime Prices and Trade Board publicly thanked the League for its assistance in the distribution of sugar ration cards…In 1942 also, 16, 409 rosaries were packed and shipped overseas to members of the Armed Forces… As 1944 dawned, the CWL turned its thoughts to post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation. They asked for representation on both Federal and Provincial Committees engaged in post-war reconstruction… The League had been founded for united actions in the pursuit of every objective worthy of a Catholic - for ‘God and Canada’… CWL members acquitted themselves admirably in the service of their fellow men, their country and their Church and they had earned the respect and gratitude of the people and Government of Canada.

                                                MAY WE NEVER FORGET.

Respectfully submitted by Leanne Forest, November 2018