Remembering Milk Weed Pods and World War II

Remembering Milk Weed Pods and World War II


Clipped from The Ottawa Citizen, 17 Nov 1944, Fri, Page 23

Tammy Marion I live in the country and rarely do I see Milkweed anymore -if at all.Not like I did when I was young or a kid. Our endangered Monarch butterflies food source 😦

Fay Tucker I remember my mother telling me about participating in the collecting of milkweed pods for this use…she would of been 12 years old when this was published

Rose Mary Sarsfield S. S. No. 4 was Clayton school.

Fran Cooper I remember collecting milkweed at S.S. #6 & 7 Ramsay and I won a prize of a navy blue sweater with flowers embroidered on it for collecting the most bags of milkweed at my school.

Linda Seccaspina What did they do with the milkweed?

Fay Tucker Linda Seccaspinaapparently they used the filaments inside the milkweed pod for the stuffing in the vests.

Rose Mary Sarsfield It was used as stuffing for life preservers.

Fran Cooper I let a few milkweed plants grow in my perennial gardens as I want to attract Monarch Butterflies to my garden. Last summer I noticed a lot of Monarch Butterflies at the Richmond Nursey property at the corner of Richmond Road and Fallowfield Road.


This October 1944 scene shows Six Mile School students pointing upwards to some of the 109 sacks of milkweed pods they gathered for the war effort. The bags are hanging in a corn crib near the school so the pods could dry out. Teacher Louise Behrend (left) looks on proudly.

Inside milkweed’s rough seed pods is another wonderful surprise: The fluffy white floss, attached to milkweed’s flat brown seeds, could be used to stuff pillows, mattresses, and quilts, and was carried as tinder to start fires. During World War II, the regular material used to stuff life jackets was in short supply, so milkweed floss was called for as a substitute—it is about six times more buoyant than cork!

Once upon a time, milkweed was commonly used in a number of natural remedies:

  • Native Americans taught early European settlers how to properly cook milkweed so that it could be safely eaten. (See note below.)
  • The milky white sap was applied topically to remove warts, and the roots were chewed to cure dysentery.
  • Infusions of the roots and leaves were taken to suppress coughs and used to treat typhus fever and asthma.

images (51)

At the start of the school year in September, 1944 school children joined the search for milkweed pods. Within two weeks, students at the School Street School had collected 40 bags towards the town’s goal of 250, enough to produce 20 life vests. 



Clipped from

  1. Democrat and Chronicle,
  2. 25 Aug 1944, Fri,
  3. Page 17


Clipped from

  1. The Gazette,
  2. 28 Aug 1943, Sat,
  3. Page 5
We have an update on this photo thanks to Joe Moore.
The group was made up of high school students from Almonte, Carleton Place, Perth and Lanark. Lots of fun that summer. We took first aid, rescue, map reading, signals, military drills, finishing with 2 weeks of small arms training with FN rifle, hand grenades, mock battles at Camp Petwawa.
Third Row from Left: Warren Robillard (Carleton Place), Jerry Milotte (Lanark), Dave Wylie (Almonte), Reed Kilburn (Almonte), Doug Beasley (Perth), Patrick Dunn (Almonte), Bob Campbell (Lanark), Unknown, Doug Thornton (Carleton Place), Mike Doyle (Almonte)
Second Row from Left: Unknown, Glen Paul (Lanark), Tucker Harris (Carleton Place), Francis Coleman (Carleton Place), Bob Gordon (Carleton Place), Joe Moore (Perth), Unknown (Almonte), Bob Robillard (Carleton Place), Dave Levine (Carleton Place), Mike Mills (Almonte-Blakeney)
Front Row from Left: Corporal Philip Twigg, Corporal Mike Dunn (Almonte), Sergeant? Unknown, Lieutenant Michael White, Corporal? Unknown, Corporal Bryan Rogers (Carleton Place).
Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
June 12, 2020  · 

It’s Photo Friday! The Museum was scheduled to participate in Beckwith Heritage Days today; it’s the day we welcome hundreds of children to learn more about their rural history. Of course things are different this year, and we’ll miss seeing everyone.
Today’s photo is of children from S.S. No. 2 Beckwith, 1944. The children are showing off all the sacks of milkweed pods they’ve collected for the war effort. Milkweed fibres were processed to fill life jackets for soldiers in the war.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s