2016 marks the 20th anniversary since Black History Month was first officially celebrated by the Government of Canada, and it also marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of No. 2 Construction Battalion, a predominantly black unit.
Helping to break the colour barrier of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the No. 2 Canadian Construction Battalion was authorized under General Order 69 on July 15, 1916. This unit was mobilized at Truro, Nova Scotia and recruited men from all over Canada and the United States.
Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Hugh Sutherland and 19 other white officers -with the exception of Captain William Andrew White, the units’ reverend, No. 2 consisted of 598 black troops.
Originally anticipated to join the Canadian Railway Troops, this unit was attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps and served with distinction in France.
The following men from Brantford served proudly with No. 2 and other units of the C.E.F:
During their time overseas, the British Methodist Episcopal Church (Later the S.R. Drake Memorial BME Church), the first black church in Brantford, helped to raise funds for this unit.