Old Home Week

Old Home Week - Brantford WWI history

Old Home Week is a time when former residents of a municipality are encouraged to return to their old hometown, in order to catch up with former neighbours and take part in a variety of special events designed to highlight the attractions of the host town. Brantford had successfully organized a number of Old Home Weeks, beginning in 1899. In 1914, however, things took on a different flavour. The first sign that things were not the same came on August 6, shortly after the declaration of war. The Expositor announced that “At a special meeting of the executive of the Old Home Week this morning it was decided to add American, Russian and French flags to those already up.”[1]
When Old Home Week began, The Expositor noted “While in the European arena it is anything but a case of beating swords into plowshares or spears into pruning hooks, this week the armories of the Thirty-Eight [sic] Dufferin Rifles in Brantford, which are want to resound with measured tread of armed men, the thud of the grounding of arms, the click of target practice, and the strains of martial music, are given over to the acts of peace in place of those of war, and the building is filled with the “Made in Brantford Industrial Exhibition,” which is one of the many interesting features of the Brantford Old Home Week.”[2]
Despite these stirrings of a more peaceful nature, the festivities eventually assumed a tenor more in keeping with the times. On August 14, The Expositor announced a number of “hitherto unannounced features” that included a military tattoo in Agricultural Park (modern day Cockshutt Park) and “…an appearance of the old Brantford Cadet Corps in its day the best in Canada.”[3]  Most significantly, “…the recruits accepted for the Brantford section of the Canadian contingent for service in the Old Land’s fight against the Germans would make their appearance before the public – possibly their last before leaving for Valcartier camp…”[4]

[1] “Recognizing Allies,” The Brantford Expositor, August 6, 1914.

[2] “Made in Brantford – Industrial Exhibition Centre of Attraction – Official Opening Took Place in Armories Yesterday Afternoon and Great Crowds Thronged the Building During the Balance of the Day – Attractive Displays of Made in Brantford Goods,” The Brantford Expositor, August 11, 1914.

[3] “Features For Tattoo – Old Cadet Corps and Active Service Contingent Will Parade Tonight,” The Brantford Expositor, August 14, 1914

[4] Ibid.