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No. 2 Construction C.E.F. Memorial

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  • No. 2 Construction C.E.F. Memorial
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Municipality/Province: Pictou, NS

Memorial number: 12007-013

Type: Slab - granite

Address: 87 Caladh Avenue

GPS coordinates: Lat: 45.6754971   Long: -62.7118537

Submitted by: Marilyn Gurney

A memorial to honour the No. 2 Construction Battalion in Pictou was first suggested in 1982, but it took until July 1993 before a permanent memorial was unveiled not far from where the battalion began its existence at Market Wharf. 

In 1987, it was suggested to then Mayor of Pictou that Market Wharf receive recognition for its role in Canadian history. Four years later, Pictou town council declared the site a municipal historic property. Pictou council and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia joined efforts to gain national recognition for the site and the battalion. In 1992, the federal government designated the No. 2 Construction Battalion a national historic event, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. A commemorative plaque was unveiled next to the memorial in 1993. An updated No. 2 Construction Battalion Interpretive Panel was unveiled on 5 July 2022.

After considerable lobbying by Black Canadians and white supporters, Canada fielded one Black battalion during the First World War — but they had to fight with shovels, not rifles. No. 2 Construction Battalion was authorized on 5 July 1916 in Pictou, Nova Scotia and was composed of Black men from across Canada, the United States and the British West Indies. Its officers were white, with the exception of the unit’s chaplain, Honorary Captain The Reverend William Andrew White. The unit moved to nearby Truro after two months in Pictou. 

On 9 July 2022 the Government of Canada officially apologized for the appalling way these patriots were treated.

Inscription found on memorial

1916      1920

No. 2 Construction C.E.F.
First Headquarters Site


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