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.


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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


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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