Black men seeking to enlist for service in WWI were repeatedly turned away from military recruitment offices across Canada, but by 1916 the Allied leadership had become alarmed at the bloodbath that was taking place on European battlefields. The No. 2 Construction Battalion, the first and only Black battalion in Canadian military history, was authorized on July 5, 1916 with headquarters in Nova Scotia. “The Black Battalion 1916-1920 Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret” written by Senator Calvin W. Ruck is dedicated “To the memory of all Blacks who served in the Great War 1914 –1918” and relates their fight for equity in this country to the fight for this country The battalion was officially disbanded on September 15, 1920 …. with no formal recognition for their service until The National Apology was delivered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 9, 2022.
Five British Columbia soldiers served in the battalion: Pte. Roy Alexander, Victoria; Pte. Arnold William Harris, Revelstoke; and three soldiers from Salt Spring Island—Pte. James Douglas Whims, Pte. Robert Clark Whims, and Pte. James Edward Wintworth.