One and one-half tons of wool knitted into sweaters, socks, and other woolen items. 26,000 hand-sewn and knitted articles, including 420 pieces of clothing for war refugees completed in only six days. The Oakville Women’s War Service League could be justifiably proud of all they had accomplished just over a year after war had been declared. By 1944, having merged with the Red Cross, the hands of the Oakville & District Branch Red Cross members were still busy supporting their family and friends in uniform. That year the Red Cross produced 9,281 articles that included socks, sweaters, surgical dressings, and refugee clothing. Among other destinations, these handmade items were sent to hospitals dealing with war casualties, prisoners of war far from home, seaman sailing cold seas, and children made homeless by the fighting in Europe.
Canada needed people to actively fight the war overseas. But it also needed those who stayed at home to support the effort by raising funds, conserving food, contributing scrap metal, fats, and paper for war production, and “doing their bit” to win the war from home. Oakville citizens like the Red Cross members rose to the challenge. One prominent Oakville resident, Lady Edith Baillie, when honoured with an award for her leadership in many of Oakville’s home-front efforts, claimed her accomplishments were due to “the marvelous community spirit which exists in Oakville.”
Oakville’s community spirit was evident everywhere during the war. Residents volunteered at the newly opened Casualty and Retraining Centre for convalescing soldiers – either serving in the canteen, distributing treats, or organizing entertainment; knocked on doors to solicit funds for Victory Loans; pledged part of their pay cheques to help the war effort; participated in euchre games to raise money for chocolates and cigarettes to send to overseas soldiers; donated blood at St. Jude’s Parish Hall; held paper and scrap metal drives; and grew food in their Victory Gardens.
Oakville’s community spirit was particularly evident in the outpouring of time, work, and donations given to making a home for young boys evacuated from England. Oakville resident Mrs. Henry Brock donated the house and grounds and the entire community helped to make it a home. Young girls painted bedroom chairs blue, added blue edging to white linen curtains and made matching bedspreads. Carpenters and painters donated their time and housecleaners ensured all was spic and span. Furniture, from clocks to sofas to towel racks, was donated. By the time the boys arrived from England they had a home in a community dedicated to helping the war effort in any way they could.