The outbreak of the First World War saw many of Bruce County’s able-bodied men off to the battlefields of Europe. Back on the home front, citizens began their own war effort by creating items and raising funds to send aid overseas. At that time, the recognized body for humanitarian aid was the Canadian Red Cross, but there were few charted branches in Bruce County. To offset this, citizens created their own groups, often known as Patriotic Societies, which then forwarded their efforts to the Red Cross. By the end of the First War, there were several branches of the Red Cross, including Chesley, which was officially chartered in 1918.
From the diaries of Elizabeth Oliver Burgess and her brother James Rowand Burgess of the Burgoyne area, it is known that the County’s Patriotic Societies were active early on in the war (1915) and raised funds through a variety of means such as lectures, concerts, and picnics. Signature quilts were a large fundraiser for these groups as the women had the skills to create them and they could easily offset the cost of the materials used to make them through the raffle and price per name. Many of these quilts had the names of those in the community and speak of support for the cause, while others featured the names of those serving as a form of honour and remembrance.
This signature quilt was created by the Purple Valley Red Cross Society in 1917 as a First World War fundraising effort. It was purchased by J.C. Lemcke for $25.00.