During the First World War, there was little female presence in the Canadian armed forces, with the exception of the 3141 nurses serving overseas and on the home front. Yet at the same time almost everyone in Canada was involved with the war effort in some way. Over 30,000 women worked outside of the home in munitions factories, offices and in the countryside on farms. Thousands of women supported the war effort by volunteering their time to knit, sew and prepare “comfort packages” of items such as pillows, sheets, socks, scarves, cholera belts, wristlets, and balaclavas to be shipped overseas to the Front. Women’s groups across the country raised money for the Red Cross, Belgian Relief, and the Canadian Patriotic Fund. For example, the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire raised money by organizing concerts, tag days, teas, card parties, lectures, and bazaars for “The Canadian Hospital Ship Fund”.
The most prolific knitter in Niagara Falls during World War I was Elizabeth Lundy. At 87 years old, Mrs. Lundy “just got busy” after hearing a plea in 1914 from the Canadian Red Cross for woollen socks for the troops. Word of her contributions quickly spread and soldiers based at Camp Niagara came to her door asking Elizabeth to knit them a pair of her wonderful socks. She also received many letters of thanks from soldiers fighting in Europe. By the war’s end she had knitted almost 400 pairs of socks and had made many other comforts for soldiers fighting overseas. She became known as the “Grandmother of the Canadian Army.”
Born in 1828 at Westminster Place in London, England, Elizabeth Sarah Pearson was eight years old when her family moved to Upper Canada. In the early 1840s she married Lanty Shannon Lundy, the great-grandson of William and Nancy Lundy, of the original United Empire Loyalist family who settled in what became Stamford Township in 1784. Lanty and Elizabeth settled down on the old Lundy homestead on Lundy’s Lane where the Canada One Outlet Mall is now. They had a large family of thirteen surviving children and twenty-five grandchildren. Lanty was a prominent member of the community and served on Stamford Township Council, as Reeve of the Township in the 1870s and as Justice of the Peace for thirty-three years.
Lanty died on 8 February 1896, and Elizabeth died on June 20, 1919, just a few months after the end of the War. They are buried together in Drummond Hill Cemetery.
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