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Recruits used Writing Room to pen 33,000 letters back home

Each desk was supplied with custom stationery with a maple leaf on the letterhead, donated by the Orillia Board of Trade

Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by Marcel Rousseau.

Some were previously published by the Orillia Museum of Art and History and in the book Postcard Memories Orillia.

This is the third in a series of four Postcard Memories feature with a Remembrance Day theme

When  the “Hostess House” opened in the St. James' Church building, the ladies of the Orillia Citizens Committee furnished a lounge and reading room, a games room, mend it corner and a canteen with its own kitchen.

The main hall was used several nights a week for dances and sing-songs. One of the most popular rooms was the writing room.

On the balcony over the south east side of the hall, 16 writing tables were in regular use during the 39 months the Maple Leaf Club was open. Each desk was supplied with custom stationery with a maple leaf on the letterhead, donated by the Orillia Board of Trade.

In the first year, the writing room sold over 3,500 local postcard views and mailed over 33,000 letters written by the men and women stationed in Orillia. 

The Maple Leaf Club published a postcard folder with 12 pictures that proved to be a hit among the young men and women in uniform, many of whom had never been away from home before. Close to 600 were sold within a few months after being published. 

The “Hostess House” was not the only hospitality shown to the recruits of Basic Training Camp No. 26.

Around 500 had registered for hospitality in private homes and had been entertained with tea, Sunday dinners or picnic parties.

John and Jean Turnbull of Bramshott Farm entertained five men each Sunday at their hospitable home on Cunningham Bay just north of town.

Mr. and Mrs. Rumble of Fern Cottage made a point of inviting 100 men a week during the season, to their summer resort for dancing.

In appreciation, many of the men volunteered many hours of work doing carpentry, painting and waxing floors at their home away from home.