No rest when peace is declared in the city: how the Saskatoon Phoenix covered the end of WWI

The world came together on Nov. 12, 1918 as news filtered out from Europe that the First World War had ended. Following is a story that was published on Nov. 12, 1918 on Page 3 of the Saskatoon Phoenix about local residents and their reactions to the news. Nothing has been altered from this verbatim account.

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Citizens celebrate the end of the war in an all round the clock session — bonfires and processions and endless noise.

The apartment blocks surrounding the Phoenix office were the first to realise that something unusual had happened when the first racket of peace celebration started at 1 a.m. Monday morning. The entire Phoenix staff turned our with anything and everything available in the shape of a noise producer. Iron pipes hammered with steel bars rendered the night hideously joyful. Some of the newsroom musicians improvised with old kettles and pots; there was general jubilation and a parade made a tour of the block.

Copy print photo of the front pages of the Saskatoon Phoenix on November 11, 1918.

Copy print photo of the front pages of the Saskatoon Phoenix on November 12, 1918.

WARMING UP

“Extra!” “Extra!” was the cry through the streets and soon lights appeared in the windows and later hastily garbed citizens began to populate the deserted streets. Cars snorted and honked out of garages as the news circulated and Second Avenue buzzed with the thickening traffic. Impromptu parades started, flags and pedestrians. The general uproar increased, yelling and shouting became intermingled with horns and bugles, as more and more people crawled into vaguely assorted raiment, some of it was all of that, and beat it for the centre of affairs.

One gentleman on whom his friends insisted on performing an unveiling ceremony was discovered to be attired in pyjamas, boots, and overcoat and a hat. Some of the ladies in the suburbs did not even wait for the formality of dress but rushed out to get an extra and devour the news in the cool night air clad in nothing more weather-defying than their “nighties.” A Mayfair nymph was so elated with the news that she executed as pas seul on the verandah attired in her “georgette-crepes,” much to the astonishment and delight of the passing patrolman.

THE TILTED LID

The lid was off in every way and Chief Donald winked a metaphoric wink at many irregularities. There was no speed limit to the cars and many took advantage of the situation to the full. One genius stripped the manifold from his car and the ensuing rattle was like a travelling machine gun.

For a “dry” town there was considerable moisture. One auto assumed the proportions of a travelling bar, even glasses were to be had. The city lights were turned on (early) and at that time, many of the citizens were also illuminated.

THE BONFIRES

Two big bonfires were started on Second Avenue. Plenty of material was found in the side alleys, several piano cases and other packing cases came in very handy as fuel. One of these fires was so successful that Chief Heath thought it advisable to pass out a cooling stream on its ardor.

MANY PROCESSIONS

Sporadic processions formed and marched through the cheering crowds, followed by the Tennysonbrook effect in autos. There was no definite band but there were many indefinite orchestras of drums and bugles and other things. These freelance players joined any cavalcade that happened to be going at the time and left them as casually when some other excitement promised. About 3 o’clock the last of the major processions formed with Mayor Young in the lead accompanied by several other leading citizens. They were proceeded by a standard-bearer with a flagpole of titan proportions bearing aloft the Union Jack.

Although the streets were moderately clear at 4:30 a.m. there was no end to the general hilarity which continued practically without a break through the morning.

MORE AND THEN SOME

The formal celebration procession commenced on Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. It formed on Spadina Crescent with the returned men lining up outside the G.W.V.A. on 21st Street. Chief Heath led the way, followed by the hook and ladder and the hose cart. Then came the returned soldiers and the Salvation Army band with endless cars and trucks filled with cheering crowds bringing up the rear. All the afternoon and evening there was no letup. As dusk fell their spirits rose and by nine o’clock last night the second evening’s rejoicing was in full swing. The ancient and honorable “See Saskatoon First” bus was pressed into service and oozing citizens at every window and door dashed up and down the street, a very impressive four-in-hand with Kaiser Bill suspended from a pole at the rear. Later on he went up in smoke.

It was practically a twenty-four hour session, not counting the “hangovers,” which are as yet only maturing.

As printed in The Saskatoon Phoenix, Tuesday, November 12, 1918

Copy print photo of the front pages of the Saskatoon Phoenix on November 11, 1918.

Copy print photo of the front pages of the Saskatoon Phoenix on November 12, 1918.

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