The Black military heritage in Canada is still generally unknown and unwritten. Most Canadians
have no idea that Blacks served, fought and died on European battlefields, all in the name of
freedom. The fact that approximately six hundred soldiers served in a segregated non-combatant
labour battalion during World War I has been one of the best kept secrets in Canadian military
The story of the overt racist treatment of Black volunteers is a shameful chapter in Canadian
history. It does, however, repre- sent an important part of the Black legacy and the Black
experience. It is a story worth reporting and worth sharing.
“Black people refused to accept the attitude that it was a white man’s war.’ As loyal citizens, we
wanted to serve our country. It was our duty, our responsibility.”
Gordon Charles Wilson (No. 2 Construction Battalion) Halifax, N.S.
“We knew what we had to do. We did not think about it; we were ready to fight. We were fighting
for our country, Canada, to save the country for your parents, for your people to have a country to
live in. I never expected to come back.”
William F. Guy (Infantry) Kentville, N.S.
Calvin W. Ruck is a native of Sydney, N.S., and now resides in Dartmouth, N.S. He is a graduate of
the Maritime School of Social Work, Dalhousie University. He serves on the Board of Deacons of
the Stevens Road United Baptist Church, Dartmouth.
His community interests include membership in The Society for the Protection and Preservation of
Black Culture in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People
and the North Preston Medical Child Care Society. He is also a charter member of the East Preston
Lions Club.
He has been involved in the area of human rights as a volunteer and a civil servant for more than
thirty years. His favourite hobby is history, particularly Black history.