No. 2 Construction Battalion
1916 - 1920
Nova Scotia

Black Battalion to be Commemorated

Environment Canada
News Release
11 December 1992

Pictou, Nova Scotia

The No. 2 Construction Battalion will be commemorated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, for its contribution to Canadian history.  This announcement was made today by Public Works Minister Elmer MacKay, MP for Central Nova, on behalf of Environment Minister Jean Charest.

The Board made the recommendation to the Environment Minister at its May 1992 meeting on the basis of the Battalion's historic significance.  The commemoration ceremony is planned for July 1993.

Acting on a documented submission from the Memorial Committee of the Black Cultural Centre, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board concluded that the determination of these men to contribute to Canada's First World War effort is of national historic significance.

The site chosen for the commemoration is the Market Wharf in Pictou, Nova Scotia.  The Market Wharf served as the original headquarters for the No. 2 Construction Battalion, C.E.F. (Canadian Expeditionary Force), Canada's first and only black battalion (1916 - 1920).

Since 1987, the initiative to acquire national recognition for the Battalion has been pursued co-operatively by the Town of Pictou and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.  In August 1991, Pictou Town Council declared the Market Wharf a municipal historic property because of its association with the Battalion.

The No. 2 Construction Battalion reflected the strong determination of Black men to contribute to Canada's participation in World War One.  Although hesitant to accept Black men into the Armed Forces, the Canadian military eventually admitted them by creating a segregated non-combatant unit.

Recruitment was carried out in all provinces.  Half of the battalion's 600 members were Nova Scotians, while a sizeable contingent came from the United States.

Authorized on July 5, 1916, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel D.H. Sutherland of River John, Nova Scotia, the Battalion consisted of 19 officers and 605 other ranks.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plays an important role in determining how Canadians commemorate our nation's past.  Its seventeen members, including representatives from every province and territory, advise the Minister of the Environment on heritage issues.  Dr. Margaret Conrad, Head of Acadia University's History Department, is the Nova Scotia member on the Board, which is chaired by Thomas H.B. Symons, the Vanier Professor at Trent University.  Since its creation in 1919, the Board has recommended the commemoration of more than 1000 persons, places, and events of national historic significance.

Further information:

Michelle Smith
Environment Canada

Calvin Ruck
Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

No. 2 Construction Battalion

Documents (letters)

to and by Sir Sam Hughes
Minister of Militia and Defence, Ottawa

Memorandum on the enlistment of Negroes...
by Sir Willoughby Garnons Gwatkin
Chief of the General Staff, Ottawa
13 April 1916

Interdepartmental Committee
Military Secretary: Memo to The Naval Secretary
21 February 1917

Interdepartmental Committee
Naval Secretary: Memo to The Military Secretary
23 February 1917

Submission to The Historic Sites and Monuments Board
Dr. Calvin Ruck, Chair
Black Battalion Committee
18 October 1991

Black Battalion to be Commemorated
Environment Canada News Release
Pictou, 11 December 1992

Canada's First and Only Black Battalion to be Honoured
For Service to King & Country (1916-1920)

The No. 2 Construction Battalion
Pictou, 10 July 1993

Names In Ascending Order, by Regimental Number
The No. 2 Construction Battalion
CEF – Canadian Expeditionary Force

Guide to Contents
No. 2 Construction Battalion

The  electronic  version  of  this  document  is  presented
here for  your  information  only.   Care  has  been  taken
to  transcribe  the  data  accurately, but it is not  intended
to be relied on as an  authoritative  reference.  In case of
differences, the official version is the authoritative source.

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