“All were pleased and grateful for our interest”

Mik Roberts was one of the Gordon Head men who received parcels from the Gordon Head Athletic Club. L-R – Mrs. May Aitkens, parcel commitee convenor, Mik Roberts, Mrs. Estlin, Emily Estlin. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

At the Gordon Head Athletic Club’s end of tennis season dinner in September 1916, President W.T. Edwards made a stirring speech “regarding those who are absent from us fighting the Empire’s battles in all earnestness on far-off battlefields, and the hope was expressed that all might lend a hand in some way in the near future as evidence of the Club’s interest.”

The Club immediately showed their interest. On September 30 1916, upon a motion of Mrs. Aitkens, seconded by Mrs. Pearson, “It was decided to send a Christmas parcel to the men of the district now serving the Empire.” The Club appointed a committee consisting of Mrs. Aitkens, convenor, Mrs. Watson, Miss Watson, Miss Fullerton and the Secretary to attend to the purchasing and packaging of gifts. They had $20 to spend — the results of their August 25 1916 Concert. Work was to be done on Thursday October 19 1916.

Good eats and smokes only…and a copy of Victoria papers enclosed

The committee on packing gifts for the soldiers reported on November 20 1916: “all goods packed carefully by committee and others interested. A personal message sent to each man. Boxes contained good eats and smokes only. Committee names and a copy of Victoria papers enclosed. Miss Somers moved, seconded by Miss Dunnett, that this committee receive the thanks of the Club and that a slight shortage on account of postage rate change be made right.” At the January 2 1917 meeting, “Mrs. Aitkens’ report for the parcel committee was then made. It told of the packing of parcels for our men at the front and was most interesting.”

These are the Gordon Head men who received parcels from the Gordon Head Athletic Club (first names given where known): Bert Beales, Ebenezer Boorman, Mr. Edwards, Stanley Featherston, James Thornton Fullerton, Arthur Mallett, Mr. Murray, Mik Roberts, George Rosson, Thomas Todd, Mr. Wallace, Jack Williamson.

At the first Annual Meeting on April 30 1917, “The correspondence was then gone into and consisted mostly of letters of thanks from our fighting men at the front, who had been remembered by the Club during the year.” One of the men, young Stanley Featherston, sent the Club a silver cup from France, to be competed for by the “lady members” of the Club. (This became the Featherston Cup at the annual swimming galas). His parents presented the cup and were made honorary members.

The Gordon Head Athletic Club continued to sent parcels to the men overseas. The Treasurer’s Report for 1917-1918 year showed: “a balance of Twenty-Dollars, on hand, after defraying all expenses including a donation to Red Cross amounting to $47.70 and amt. of $20.00 for parcels to our men overseas at the war.” On September 30 1918, “An executive meeting of the G.H.A.C. was held in the Gordon Head Hall on Monday at eight p.m. to arrange for our yearly Christmas remembrances to members of the Club now overseas on Active Service. All present were desirous of sending parcels as usual and $30.00 was allowed to cover the expense of same. Moved by H.A. McNaughton, seconded by Miss Somers, that Mrs. Aitkens should be Convenor of parcel committee with power to select her helpers. Carried.”

Finally, at the third Annual Meeting on May 9 1919, “the Committee on Parcels gave their report and received the hearty thanks of Executive. At this point letters of thanks from the soldiers who had been remembered were presented. All were pleased and grateful for our interest.”

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