Browse "Black Canadians"

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Black Volunteers in the First World War

Archivist Barbara M. Wilson explores the significance of a letter sent to Sir Sam Hughes by George Morton, a letter carrier, barber and civil rights advocate from Hamilton, Ontario. In his letter, dated 7 September 1915, Morton asked the minister of militia and defence why members of the Black community were being turned away when trying to enlist for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

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Charles Lightfoot Roman

Charles Lightfoot Roman, MD, CM, surgeon, author, researcher, lecturer (born 19 May 1889 in Port Elgin, ON; died 8 June 1961 in Valleyfield, QC). Charles Lightfoot Roman was one of the first Black Canadians to graduate from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and became a recognized expert in industrial medicine. He was also one of the first Black Canadians to enlist for service in the First World War, and was the only known Black person to serve with the Canadian General Hospital No. 3 (McGill). Lightfoot Roman was also likely the first Black Grand Master of a traditional Masonic lodge.

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James Franklin

James Munroe Franklin, First World War soldier (born 12 October 1899 in Whitaker, Mississippi; died 8 October 1916 in France). Franklin, a private in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), was likely the first Black Canadian (and first Black North American) killed in action in the First World War.

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Jeremiah Jones

Jeremiah “Jerry” Alvin Jones, soldier, farmer, truck driver (born 30 March 1858 in East Mountain, NS; died 23 November 1950 in Halifax, NS). Jeremiah Jones was a Black Canadian soldier who served during the First World War. Jones was 58 years old (13 years above the age limit) when he enlisted with the 106th Battalion in 1916. As did many other underage and older enlistees at the time, Jones lied about his age when he signed up. Jones was recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal by his commanding officer for his heroic actions during the Battle of Vimy Ridge; however, he did not receive the medal during his lifetime. Thanks to advocacy of Senator Calvin Ruck and members of the Jones family, Jones was awarded the medal in 2010, 60 years after his death.

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No. 2 Construction Battalion

The No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) — also known as the Black Battalion — was authorized on 5 July 1916, during the First World War. It was a segregated non-combatant unit, the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history.

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William A. White

William Andrew White, Baptist minister and army chaplain (born 16 June 1874 in King and Queen Court House, VA; died 9 September 1936 in Halifax, NS). William White was a leading member of the African Nova Scotian community. White was chaplain for the No. 2 Construction Battalion, making him one of only a few Black officers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

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William Neilson Hall

William Neilson Hall, seaman (born 25 April 1829 in Horton Bluff [now Lockhartville], NS; died 25 August 1904 in Horton Bluff). William Hall was the first Black, the first Nova Scotian, and the first Canadian naval recipient of the Victoria Cross.