Lady Davidson next set about having the Association spread across the Dominion. She wrote letters to the magistrates and justices of the peace asking each to meet with prominent women in the communities they served in the hopes a local branch would be established. Support was speedy and enthusiastic for the men at the front.
Known generally as the Women’s Patriotic Association (WPA), before the end of 1914, over 15,000 members were busy making supplies for the soldiers and sailors. By 1915 there were 168 branches throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. That number grew to 218 WPA branches outside the capital. St. John’s had 17 branches itself as well as three Red Cross affiliates that concentrated on making medical supplies.
The ties that bonded all these ladies was the desire to “do their part” for the war effort for their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, or sweethearts serving overseas. Members from all economic classes and denominations came together en mass to make clothing to send to the troops or medical supplies for the Red Cross. At Government House, where the WPA was headquartered, the City’s high society and social elite ladies sat and worked side by side with “ordinary” women and young girls knitting or sewing and Lady Davidson was always present. Most of the rooms in Government House were used for the ladies to knit, sew, cut, and package the goods made – clicking needles, snipping scissors and buzzing sewing machines were the order of the day. Likewise, in scores of communities in the Dominion of Newfoundland, groups of women gathered to cut cloth and sew clothing or knit socks, all of which were then sent to Government House (and later to Sutherland Place) for sorting and packaging for shipment to England. Generally, the members of the branch executives were the local social elite: wives of the merchants, doctors, clergy, or were themselves teachers. The various church guilds all busied themselves making supplies. The WPA Secretary, Eleanora Macpherson (wife of Dr. Cluny Macpherson who served overseas), reports that, “...dropping all distinctions of a social or religious nature, the women have joined hands to work for the men at the front.... Inspiring, isn’t it?”