Posts Tagged ‘chalmer’s Presbyterian church’

“Widow and Kiddies Facing Starvation,” Toronto Star. January 31, 1919. Page 04.

Soldier-Husband Died Just After Discharge, and Pension is Refused.

Another case of destitution as a result of service for one’s country, which is as bad, if not worse, than that of the Tarringtons, who were left penniless when the breadwinner died after he came home from overseas, is that of Mrs. J. D. Powless, 913 Dundas street west, who is facing starvation, with a family of five children, all under 14 years.

Her husband, Pte. Powless, returned home from active service in France a couple of months ago, and after he had been home for two weeks, contracted influenza-pneumonia, and died. Mrs. Powless has received word from the Board of Pension Commissioners at Ottawa that she is not entitled to any pension because Pte. Powless died after he had been discharged from the service.

There are five children under 14 years of age in the family, and another, Daisy, who is fifteen years of age: she brings in the total family income, which is eight dollars per week. Mrs. Powless is expected to buy coal at $12 a ton, buy food for herself and six children, pay the rent, which is $25 per month, clothe them all, and get a doctor for her baby, who is lying ill in bed. She has got to do this all on $8 a week, or starve.

No Coal in the House.
Wednesday night, Mrs. Poweless applied to Chalmers Presbyterian Church for assistance, as there was no coal in the house. The church got in touch with the Soldiers’ Aid Commission and they sent her $30. Out of this sum, she has got to pay the rent, $25, and then there is $5 left to pay for a half ton of coal.

The children are half clothed, the house is in wretched condition. There is no carpet on the floors, and when the reporter called he found the children huddled in the kitchen, where there was a small fire of charcoal burning in the stove. When the remaining half bag of charcoal would be gone, there would be no fire.

Mrs. Powless told The Star that when her husband returned, the doctor said that his system was poisoned from the effects of his service overseas. Pte. Powless could not get any work, and he was so ill that he could not have worked if he had been able to get any.

Mrs. Powless has no relative in this country, and she is totally dependent upon the mercies of the commissioners for a livelihood. If something is not done immediately, she said that she would have to go and ask the city for help.

G.W.V.A. Takes It Up.
Central Branch of the

G.W.V.A. has taken up the case, and will now carry on a ‘drive’ to have the pension system extended or revised so that provision will be made for men whose general health is broken by their service overseas. Such men are often discharged after years of service, it is stated, as physically unfit, but with ‘no disability’ entered on their discharge papers. They, of course, receive no pension, although the service overseas oftentimes results in their death shortly after their return to civilian life.

Pte. Powless was over age when he enlisted, and was 50 years of age when he was discharged. He was Canadian-born. Two sons, both married are in France with the C.E.F.

The Central Branch took up this case with the Pension Board at Ottawa, and received a letter stating that under the regulations the case was not within the scope of the board, and no pension could be granted. This is the situation as it remains, although the doctor’s certificate, it is stated, reads that the man would undoubtedly have recovered from the ‘flu’ had his vitality not been greatly lowered by hardships overseas. Friends of the late Pte. Powless state that before enlistment he was hardy and in the best of health, the certificate of the attending physician to the effect that death was due to strain on his constitution while overseas bearing out their opinion.

‘Our arguments,’ explained Mr. George Murrell, secretary of the Central Branch, ‘is that a man under these circumstances is entitled to some consideration. We are not asking that the total disability pension be allowed his widow and children, but that some provision be made for them. Surely his wife and small children should be looked after to some extent by the Government.’

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