Downtown Yonge Remembers

Tribute Gallery

This virtual exhibit of photos recognizing BIPOC military and civilian Canadians who served during the great wars will be on display on the digital screens at Yonge and Dundas daily from November 8 to 11 at 6 PM and on November 11, at 11:00AM to 11:12AM.   This is presented in partnership with Mackenzie House.

Downtown Yonge Remembers is a commemoration of  all the sacrifices made by residents of Canada that belonged to diverse Indigenous, Black and Racialized communities in the great wars. This is exhibit is presented in partnership with Mackenzie House.  Through this exhibit, together we aim to bring to forefront voices of communities and people whom have faced erasure throughout history. This exhibit is designed with the aim to advance equity, inclusion, diversity, anti-oppression and anti-racism. 

All of the wars fought in history were always considered to make the world safe for democracy. But for people of colour, and other visible minorities, the reality was very different.

Canadians were encouraged to enlist at the onset of World War One and World War Two, to “make the world safe for democracy.” But for people of colour, and other visible minorities, the reality was very different.. 

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.

Privates in the Number 2 Construction Battalion during the First World War.

William Thomas Jackson, Peter Browning, Elias Elery Jackson were privates in the Number 2 Construction Battalion during the First World War.

Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Black Mecca Museum

All smiles, Lance Corporal Sam Morgan (pictured left), served Canada in both World War I and II. He courageously served as lance corporal in England for 3 years during WWII before he returned after sustaining an injury

Source: City of Toronto Archives

Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 83680

Troops Return.

The Battalion did crucial infrastructure work in France during the war: digging trenches, repairing roads, building railways. This photo (below) shows a reunion with their families on the steps of the Provincial Legislature in 1920, taken in dedication of a plaque that still sits in the main hall of Queens Park in Toronto to this day.

Source: City of Toronto Archives

Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 411 , Item 86

Indigenous and Asian people from every area of Canada fought in the armed services throughout WWII, serving in every major battle and campaign. They faced distinct cultural limitations in order to serve their country. Their bravery, sacrifices, and achievements are a source of pride for their families, communities, and all Canadians.

In British Columbia, during the Second World War, Chinese-Canadian women supported the war effort by joining the Women’s Ambulance Corps. The women supported Canada’s military on the home front, through nursing, ambulance driving and First Aid.

Source: Chinese Canadian Military Museum

Learn More

Women’s Ambulance Corps, Vancouver, c. 1944

Munitions workers and nurses, Toronto, c. 1915. During the First World War, around 35,000 women worked in munitions plants in Ontario and Quebec, according to the Imperial Munitions Board. In 1943, over 261,000 women worked in the manufacturing of war supplies, accounting for more than 30% of the aviation sector, close to 50% of gun plants, and a clear majority in munitions inspection.

City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244 Item 859.

  

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