History of the Kettles

In 1891, Captain Joseph McFee wanted to help vulnerable people in San Francisco, especially during the Christmas season, but he had no funds to do so. He remembered, during his earlier days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, seeing a large iron kettle where passengers of boats that docked tossed coins in to help the poor. Captain McFee suspended a similar pot from a tripod at the Oakland Ferry Landing and encouraged the public to “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He collected enough money to host a Christmas dinner for the poor.

Canada’s first kettle was used in Toronto in 1903. Today, the familiar kettles and kettle workers (or ‘bell ringers’) are seen in more than 2,000 locations nationwide. For more than 100 years the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign has been a great way for people to help others in need in their local community through the work of The Salvation Army.