The Salvation Army

 Salvation Army buildings in Peterborough circa 1900. Used with permission from Trent Valley Archives. “Trent Valley Archives Soden booklet” F591.

The Salvation Army is a Christian organization focused on enhancing the social well-being of the community by providing various local programs and fundraising. The Salvation Army states that its mission is: “to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, supply basic human needs, provide personal counselling and undertake the spiritual and moral regeneration and physical rehabilitation of all persons in need who come within its sphere of influence regardless of race, colour, creed, sex or age”. The organization was founded in 1865 in England and established in Canada in 1882, and on April 11th, 1885, the Salvation Army Temple was founded in Peterborough.

When war was declared in 1914, the Salvation Army felt a moral duty to society to aid in the war efforts. Salvation Army locations all over Canada began to contribute to the war efforts, but the program offerings differed based on local and community needs. The Salvation Army in Peterborough, now located on Simcoe Street and Aylmer Street, provided many services.
The Salvation Army in Peterborough was involved in providing Children’s Receiving Homes, food and clothing banks, and in fundraising and holding community events in support of the troops. The organization was also responsible for the establishment of many clubs and groups in the area. Some examples are the Wolf Club Pack, Scouts and Cubs (now the 15th Peterborough Boy Scouts), Brownies (now better known as Girl Guides), Sunday School classes, Corps Cadets. These types of clubs and groups were aimed at children, and was a way for them to learn moral and religious values, contribute to their church and community, and it provided an opportunity to teach children skills that they could use when they were older, some with the intention of training children to become soldiers. Other clubs and groups included Young Peoples Workers and directory classes which were groups aimed at young adults. These clubs and groups were intended to teach them skills and behaviours to help them both contribute to their church and community, and to succeed in a professional environment. Groups that encouraged participation from adults included the Mr. and Mrs. Club, the League of Mercy, and The Property Committee. These groups encouraged adults to participate in the war efforts, particularly the League of Mercy.

Musical organizations run through the Salvation Army were also important to the community. These included such musical groups as the Singing Company, the Peterborough Temple Songsters, the Timbrel Brigade, the Temple Tones, and the Young Peoples Band. One of the most notable musical groups during World War One was The Salvation Army Peterborough Temple Band. The bands became an important part of the Peterborough community and provided entertainment in hopes of raising morale during the war.

Used with permission from The Trent University Archives. Postcard titled “Salvation Army Band. Peterboro. Canada”; photographer: “Louis Mendel Photo, Peterboro”. Peterborough miscellanea fonds. Accession 75-1030 Folder 37, Item 6. Undated.  

The Salvation Army Peterborough Temple Band was based on voluntary membership. Members purchased their own uniforms, and ensured that they volunteered in their community. Some examples of their volunteer work in the community were playing for citizens in hospitals, nursing homes, senior citizen residences, and general community gatherings. The Temple Band even toured in North America, for example, New Brunswick; Flint, Michigan; and Erie, Pennsylvania.

In 1914, under the leadership of Bandmaster William Peryer, who worked as a machinist at Canadian General Electric, the Temple Band Corps were very successful. Following the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in May of 1914, The Peterborough Temple Band were requested to take the place of the Toronto based Salvation Army Canadian Staff Band which had suffered massive casualties in the disaster. Some members of the Peterborough Salvation Army bandsmen, accompanied by their wives and children, were also lost when the Empress of Ireland sunk. One member mentioned briefly in Peterborough’s The Daily Examiner, writes of a young man named Edward P. Gray (possibly Edwin Phillip Gray), a former resident of Peterborough and a former employee at Quaker Oats factory, who died on the Empress of Ireland. Bandmaster Peryer also lost his mother in the shipwreck.

The Salvation Army played an important role in World War One through its programs, support services, and community oriented events. One author, David Creighton, mentions the Salvation Army in his novel Losing the Empress: A Personal Journey: the Empress of Ireland’s Enduring Shadow. On page 32, writing based on his personal experiences notes: “For me the Salvation Army came to mean band music, lively times, transcontinental friendships, moral probity, laughter, warmth – and the question “Are you saved?”.” Creighton’s experiences are reflective of an overarching feeling and appreciation of the Salvation Army, and this understanding reflects the value of the work that the Salvation Army provided in its communities during World War One. Overall, the Temple Band provided a source of pride for Peterborough residents, and was an integral source of morale and hope during the Great War. It continued to play an important role in the community, even after the Salvation Army Temple fire of 1923, where the Temple Band played to fundraise to rebuild the Church.

The Salvation Army has continued to offer services and programs, and has changed its programs based on the needs of the community.

Research by Julianne Liken and Kayleigh Le Gresley

Brochure about the Salvation Army. 12-004 Box 1, folder 7. Trent University Archives,   Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
Creighton, David. Losing the Empress: A Personal Journey: the Empress of Ireland’s Enduring   Shadow. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2000. eBook Collection, EBSCOhost.

“History.” The Salvation Army Peterborough.

Jones, Elwood. “A look at a rising young city: Part 2 of a series on the souvenir photographs of    Robert J. Soden.”, July 9, 2016.

“Mission Statement.” The Salvation Army Peterborough.

Newspaper Article from The Daily Examiner. 1914. 12-004 Box 1, folder 7. Trent University Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

“Peterborough Temple Band History: Banding Through the Years.” The Salvation Army Peterborough Temple Band.

Report about services provided by the Salvation Army. 82-022 Box 11. Trent University Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Report about the Salvation Army Peterborough Temple Band. 12-004 Box 1, folder 7. Trent University Archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

The Peterborough Museum and Archives. 1971-034. “1885-1970 ‘85th Anniversary Peterborough Temple Corps’.” Pamphlet.   

“The Salvation Army: A Presentation by the Canadian War Museum.” Canadian War Museum.