The Ontario Temperance Act was passed on April 27th, 1916, banning the sale of alcohol in the province apart from for medicinal, religious or scientific purposes from September 16th. This had an impact on the local hotel business, as this extract from the minutes of Deseronto Town Council on this day in 1916 makes clear:

William Myles's request to Council

Mr. W. N. Myles of the Deseronto House Hotel being present, it was moved by the Reeve, seconded by Councillor Richardson, that he be heard.
Mr. Myles stated he was now keeping a standard hotel and requested the Council to grant him a license to keep two or more billiard tables. Councillor Hunt said at the present time it was revenue we are after as the cutting off of liquor licenses left the town in a bad monetary shape. He was in favour of the application. The Reeve also stated that he was in favour of granting the application.
Moved by Councillor Hunt, seconded by the Reeve, that Mr.Myles be granted the privilege he asked on payment of the usual fee. Carried.

A “standard hotel” was one where the hotel-keeper was

…entitled to sell all non-intoxicating drinks and beverages, cigars, cigarettes and tobacco, and to conduct an ice cream or general restaurant or café without further or other license

according to the terms of the Act.

Deseronto House Hotel

Deseronto House Hotel

William Myles maintained his association with billiard tables: in the 1921 census he was living in Thomas Street with an occupation of ‘Amusements’, working as an employee in a pool room. He retired to Hamilton and died there on December 31st, 1927 at the age of 69. He lived long enough to see the Ontario Temperance Act repealed: in March 1927.

Enlistments and conscriptions over WW1

September 1916 was the first month of World War I in which no Deseronto men or women joined the services. As the graph above shows, enlistments hit their peak in January 1916, with more than 30 local people joining the forces in that month. After a busy spring, the summer months showed a marked decline in rates of enlistment as news of heavy loss of life at the Battle of the Somme reached home.

This drop in recruitment was true across Canada and led to the passing of the Military Service Act in August 1917 [text of the Act], which introduced conscription. The graph below shows the number of Deseronto people who joined the forces voluntarily alongside those who were drafted under the Military Service Act.

Enlistment and conscription rates by year

Gerald Cecil Burton signature

On this day in 1916, Gerald Cecil Burton, a fireman, signed up in Toronto. He stated that he was born in Deseronto on July 29th, 1897. At the time of enlisting his mother, Margaret, was living in Elm Street, Sudbury, Ontario.

Gerald joined the 69th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 340069. He was five feet seven and three quarter inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey-blue eyes and brown hair. He arrived in England on board the RMS Mauretania on November 30th, 1916. He got to France on March 11th, 1917, serving with the 1st Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. His service file notes that he was tried at a court martial on August 29th, 1917:

Gerald Cecil Burton theft

 25.9.17 In confinement awaiting trial 31 days. Tried & convicted by F.G.C.M. [Field General Court Martial] of W.O.A.S. [while on active service] Stealing goods the property of an officer in that he in the field on or about 13 July stole a revolver & Holster the property of H. J. Rolph & sentenced to Hard Labor for 1 year 29.8.17

This sentence was commuted to 90 days of Field Punishment number 1. On March 19th, 1918 Burton was struck off the strength of his unit and sent to England when it was discovered that his true date of birth was July 29th, 1900. He left Liverpool for Canada on May 13th and was examined by a medical board in Toronto on July 11th. This board noted that he was under age (17) and was suffering from bronchitis caused by poison gas. He was discharged as medically unfit on July 25th, 1918. It is not clear what happened to him after the war.

Moving archivesA significant change to the operation of the Deseronto Archives will be happening in September 2016, as we are moving the collection into the new Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County in Belleville. From September 12th, the Archives will be available for research in Belleville.

This increases the availability of the collection, which will now be open to the public from Monday to Thursday, 9.30 to 12 and 1 to 4pm instead of the limited hours we have been open in Deseronto.

Donna Fano labelling shelvesThe Town of Deseronto was the first municipality in Hastings County to provide a staffed archive service, back in 1997. Now it is joining the City of Belleville and the County of Hastings in taking advantage of the facilities of the new Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County. There our local records will be kept in climate-controlled conditions in a brand-new facility.

Amanda Hill, the Deseronto archivist, has also relocated to the new archives at Belleville, which will provide a continuity of care for the Deseronto materials and knowledge of their contents.

This website will continue to be updated with news from the Deseronto First World War project, and Deseronto Archives images will remain available from our Flickr account.

The email address to contact the Archives is now and you can also call 613-967-3304.

Grateful thanks are owed to Frances Smith and all the staff at Deseronto Public Library for providing a home for the Deseronto Archives, and also to the Deseronto Archives Board and the Corporation of the Town of Deseronto for their support of the Archives over the past 20 years and their continued dedication to the service as it enters this new phase.

Reuben Sero signature

Reuben Sero joined up in Belleville on this day in 1916. He gave his place of birth as “Indian Woods, Hastings County”. He was born on October 5th, 1897, the son of Israel Sero and Eliza (née Brant), who were both Mohawks. The family were living in Tyendinaga in 1901 and 1911, but Reuben was living in Market Street, Belleville when he enlisted.

Sero joined the 155th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 637184. He was five feet five and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

George Albert Butler signature

On this day in 1916 George Albert Butler, a civil engineer, signed up in Montreal. He was born near Deseronto on October 31st, 1876 (probably 1874), the son of Tobias Butler, a lumberman for the Rathbun Company, and Elizabeth (née McVey). Tobias died in 1896 and Elizabeth was living in Belleville at 268 George Street when George enlisted.

George joined the No. 1 Construction Battalion with the regimental number 1081681. He was five feet seven inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. His service record shows that he arrived in England on the SS Northland on September 23rd, 1916 and was promoted to be a sergeant on October 21st. He arrived in France four days later. In February 1917 the No. 1 Construction Battalion’s name was changed to 1st Battalion Canadian Railway Troops. On May 22nd 1917 Butler was promoted to the rank of temporary lieutenant.

On October 3rd, 1917 Butler was arrested and kept in confinement until October 13th, awaiting trial. His service file records the details of his offence and court martial:

George Albert Butler court martial

1.11.17 1st C.R.T In confinement awaiting trial, 3.1017 to 14.10.17
Tried & convicted by F.G.C.M. [Field General Court Martial] of ‘When on Active Service’
(1) A.A. Sec. 19 – Drunkeness, in that he, in the Field, on 3.10.17 was Drunk.
(2) A.A. Sec. 15 (1a) – Absent without leave, in that he, in the Field, 3.10/17 was absent from parade at 6.45 p.m.
Proven guilty on both charges & sentenced to be dismissed from His Majesty’s Service, 14.10.17
Confirmation of sentence recommended by Lieut. General The Earl of Cavan, 18.10.17, and General Sir H. de la P. Gough, 22.10.17.
Sentence confirmed by Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief, British Armies in France, 27.10.17.
(Accused kept in confinement from 3.10.17 until handed over to A.P.M. [Assistant Provost Marshal] XIX Corps on 31.10.17)

George Butler was sent back to England on November 2nd, 1917. It is not clear what happened to him after that.

James Wilmont Sharpe signature

James Wilmot Sharpe signed up in Deseronto on this day in 1916. He was born on January 8th, 1883 in Deseronto, the son of Philip Sharpe and Sarah (née Smith). On October 19th, 1901, he married Mabel Hayes in Napanee. In 1904 the couple were living in Fourth Street, Deseronto when their son was born. By 1916, when Sharpe enlisted, their home address was 114 Peter Street, Toronto. Sharpe’s three younger brothers, Ernest, Alfred Nelson and Harry had already enlisted.

Sharpe joined the 74th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 344822. He was five feet four and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

He survived the war and was back at 114 Peter Street in Toronto with Mabel and their son in 1921. James died on February 23rd, 1970 at the age of 88. His obituary in the Quinte Scanner notes that Mabel predeceased him and that the couple had two sons, William and James. He worked as a millwright. James was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.