Pictou celebrates history of No. 2 Construction Battalion
Hundreds of black men from Nova Scotia and across the country enlisted in the No. 2 Construction Battalion
Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of a black battalion formed in Pictou, Nova Scotia and the community honoured its achievements with a service and honour parade.
Hundreds of black men from Nova Scotia and across the country enlisted in the No. 2 Construction Battalion during World War I. They dug trenches, helped construct railways and repaired roads among other tasks.
An honour parade was held in the morning along the waterfront. A group of marchers wore the original uniforms of the battalion.
Sonny Brown was one of those men and said it was an honour to be involved.
"The No. 2 Construction Battalion means a lot to me especially since I'm a member of the Forces," he said.
"Reading this story and to know what they went through to actually make it possible for somebody such as myself to be in the Canadian Forces, it's quite an extraordinary experience for me today."
Brown said the men in the battalion fought hard so they could fight for Canada.
'Courage and perseverance'
"Words that come to mind are courage and perseverance. They never gave up. It's something for my generation to learn," he said.
Russell MacLean came to watch the parade and said his grandfather was a recruiting officer during the early days of the battalion who served with them overseas.
"It's a wonderful experience, especially to see the fellows in the original uniforms. They represent something that is so important in Canadian history," he said.
MacLean said his grandfather didn't speak about the war much, only on very unique occasions.
Auditorium filled to capacity
"There wasn't much war story, except occasionally I'd be with him and we'd happen across some gentlemen who would say 'Hey captain!' so they'd remember him from the war time."
Sylvia Parris travelled to Pictou to remember the men who made history. Her father enlisted in the battalion when he was just 17.
"We all are proud to say that we are descendants of that, in terms of direct family, but in terms of lineage of community, of black community, I think that's fabulous for us," she said.
"For me to know, for my children to know, and for my grandchildren to know."
After the parade was a formal ceremony at the deCoste Centre. The auditorium was filled to capacity and a tent was set up outside to handle the overflow.
Traditional uniforms at today's ceremony <a href="https://t.co/VMmEdRejxL">pic.twitter.com/VMmEdRejxL</a>—@SteveBerryCBC
With files from Steve Berry