The Adamson Family

Mabel Cawthra Adamson (1871-1943) was from a very wealthy and well-connected family in Toronto. Her husband, Agar Adamson, was a veteran of the South African War. By 1914, they were established in Toronto and had two young sons. When war broke out, Agar was 48 years old and nearly blind in one eye, but he eagerly joined the first contingent of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Like many women from her social circle, Mabel Adamson followed her husband overseas and was based in London during the war years. Turning her considerable talents towards the war effort, Mabel was active in relieving the dire plight of the Belgian people. She funded and helped run an orphanage for displaced children in Furness, Belgium. She was also active in the leadership of two Canadian-based charities for Belgian relief: The Belgian Soldiers’ Fund, and the Belgian Canal Boat Fund which floated food, clothing, and supplies down the canals of Belgium to refugees behind enemy lines.

Agar saw action at Frezenberg, Sanctuary Wood, Ypres, Bellewaarde and Passchendaele. As a senior officer, his letters were not censored by anyone else and his letters provide a very frank and chilling account of the front. Mabel was well aware of the tragedies in the trenches and received first-hand accounts of the deprivation of the civilians behind enemy lines.