At the outbreak of the Great War, Canadians from Nova Scotia to British Columbia flooded to the recruiting offices as a patriotic fervour swept across the nation. A large number of Black volunteers, however, were turned away from what they were told was a “white man’s war.”  As we enter February and make an effort to recognize and remember the too-often neglected history of Black Canadians, I thought we would take this opportunity to shed light on what was described as “one of the best kept secrets in Canadian military history.”  According to Calvin W. Ruck, it is one of Canada’s best kept secrets because many Canadians are unaware that roughly 600 Black soldiers served in Canada’s first and only all-Black Battalion during the First World War. Continue reading “A ‘White Man’s War’ No More: Black Volunteers in the CEF”
This Sunday, January 28th, will mark the centenary of the death of the well-known Canadian poet- John McCrae. Author of the poem In Flanders Fields, McCrae’s memory is immortalized in the words he wrote during the Second Battle of Ypres. The Canadian soldier, however, was more than just a poet. When the war broke out in 1914, McCrae was appointed medical officer to the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery and accompanied one of the first Canadian contingents that departed from Valcartier, Québec for England in October 1914.