The halcyon days of summer captured in Percy’s album were occasionally interrupted by terrible thunderstorms that built up and rolled down the Ottawa River Valley.
The Globe reported that a storm had “rampaged” through eastern Ontario on July 19th, causing considerable damage to barns, and killing “three valuable colts” and “a couple of four-year-old heavy horses.” (1) Though it struck a house, ripping “zig-zag holes in the linoleum” of the dining room where the householder was sitting with his mother-in-law, they were not injured. “The dining room was filled with smoke, bricks torn from the chimney, a window in the house broken and some plaster knocked off, [but] the house did not take fire.” (1)
In Petawawa, a “severe thunderstorm … came on in the afternoon after an excessively hot and close forenoon. There was a regular downpour for a while and it flooded several of the tents but we made ditches around them and got the water away so that, altho [sic] it rained most of night, we were able to keep good and dry.” (2)
The lightning was a problem here too: “A couple of fellows in [Percy’s] 12th Brigade were hit by the lightening [sic] during the night but recovered alright, I believe. When some of the fellows were watering our horses at the trough, they felt minor shocks.” (2)
The hot weather was bearable, Gordon Brown told his mother, as they slept “practically outdoors with flaps and sides of tent rolled up.” (2)
(1) The Globe (1844-1936). July 20, 1916. 11. Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
(2) Brown, Robert Gordon. Letter to his mother, July 26, 1916, describing a storm “about a week ago.” Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.
The photograph, captioned “H. Andrews, Petawawa,” shows a tent with the maximum ventilation achieved. It is in Percy’s small album.