This is a living history book about the men of the 161st Huron Battalion, the continuation of a history project began in the 1980s by local military historian, Sandy MacDonald. He is the inspiration and mystery of this project. We know that Sandy collected information about the men of the 161st Huron Battalion through interviews he did with the veterans and their families. He also published a newsletter about the 161st Huron Battalion, that it mentioned in his manuscript but of which, we’ve found no copies.

We found Sandy MacDonald through a mimeographed copy of a draft manuscript, complete with copied photos about the 161st Huron Battalion. We tried to find Sandy but have been unsuccessful following any of the whispers about him.

So to honour him and his work, we did as good historians do. We built upon his work and have created a site to expand upon what he gathered from the veterans themselves.

The entries will begin when the 161st Huron Battalion was formed, on December 2, 1915. When the orders were received from the Canadian Privy Council that created a Battalion made up, primarily, of men enlisting in Huron County. Each entry on the website will occur, exactly one hundred years to the day the Battalion events took place, and will follow the enlistment of the men from Wingham area, Goderich area, Seaforth area, Hensall area and all the farms and villages in between. It will document their training through letters and period newspaper reports, their travel from Canada to England and onto the WWI battlefields of Europe. The entries will not end until 100 years after the Battalion was disbanded, on February 28, 2018, and may go beyond to cover their return and reunions.

It will change as more information and photos of the men come to light. Unlike printed histories that cannot be added to, corrected or changed easily, this living history book will evolve and grow as more information is received. It will be unlike any history book we’ve ever written or produced.

If you have information and photos of the men of the Huron 161st and/or Sandy MacDonald, please contact the project team through the comment section, so we can add to the story of these brave men, the only Huron County military unit ever to train together, not as a reserve, but as part of the active Canadian Expeditionary Force.

19 thoughts on “About

  1. I have come across 11 photos of the Passchendaele Memorial. The photos show various sites through the cemetery. Two of the photos show the headstone of Charles Ivan Wightman. He was killed Oct. 26, 1917. If your organization would like these photos I would gladly give them to you. You may contact me by email.


    • Thanks so much Linda for sharing these great photos. They are a great addition to the site and will be included on the site. We are presently looking at creating a section for photos We really appreciate your help on this evolving project.


  2. Dear Sirs,
    A wonderful and helpful web-site, thank you! I am researching Pte. Kenneth Currie of the 161st Battalion, and came across an entry on your site concerning him. It appears to refer to a photograph of ‘Ken’ and another man. Is there a chance that you might know how or where to find this photograph?
    With much thanks and anticipation of your reply.


    • Thanks for your kind words about the site. The photo referenced came from the draft work of the man who inspired this project, Sandy MacDonald. Within copies of the original manuscript are photocopied photos. His draft manuscript can be found at the North Huron Museum in Wingham, Ontario or the Huron County Museum in Goderich, Ontario, who also have a large collection of military photos of men from the area. Good luck with your search.


    • Hi David,
      Glad you enjoy the website. The photo referred to of Pte. Kenneth Currie was from a reference in Sandy MacDonald’s unpublished manuscript, Huron Overseas. Copies of it can be found at the North Huron Museum in Wingham, Ontario and at the Huron County Museum in Goderich, Ontario. Unfortunately finding copies of the newsletter that Sandy published in the 1980s is more difficult. I have yet to find a copy of any of the newsletters but am keeping my eyes open. I will let you know if I find that particular edition.


  3. Hello my name is Ryan N Caldwell. My grandfather was John (Don) “zip ” Cowan. His father my great grandfather sjt. John Alexander Cowan and his brother William (tted) fought together in wwi. I have a newspaper from August 8th 1918. I’d like to meet up with someone for more information.


    • Thanks for your interest Ryan. The newspaper sounds intriguing too. It appears that both your grandfather John and his brother William were in the 161st Huron Battalion. We have a bit of information on them but are still looking for more. We’ll see what we can pull together for you.


  4. Great to find this website about the 161st. I am the grandson of Robert Harvey Hoover 654881 and have information about his involvement in WW1 and life following the war. I would be willing to share information, pictures etc.


  5. Given the length of time it has taken for a response, I will need some time to consider whether this is a legimate research effort or not. I will need some convincing before I share my Grandfather’s story…


    • Hi Terry,
      I understand your position and your concerns.

      This is a passion project that got pushed to the back burner this fall due to the deadline I had for my full-time job work on a digitization project that went online late in November. Due to my full-time and history column work I get done what fits in the time available.
      Much as I’d enjoy learning more about your grandfather’s military service with the 161st, I understand your reservations. Keep checking out the website as we get into 1917. Starting in January, I will be adding more complete biographies of the soldiers. If you feel you’d like to participate, I’ll be sure your contributions are added in a timely manner.
      Have a great January 2.


      • Thanks for your reply. I will check on the site in 2017. I am cautious because I have shared a lot of information on my Grandfather’s WW1 involvement in the past with a man in BC who was supposedly writing a book on The Men of Huron, 161st Battalion, WW1. Nothing seems to have come from that and I want to ensure that his story is actually shared.


  6. Shout out to your blog about the 161st Battalion. I am working on the 18th Battalion CEF at by blog and some men of the 161st Battalion reinforced that battalion. If you need any assistance or if you have any questions for me please feel free to contact me.

    https://18thbattalioncef.wordpress.com/ or the 18th Battalion Facebook Group.


  7. I am the great Grandson of Pte Fredrick William Stokes KIA sept 27th 1918 and great Nephew of Cpl George Stokes I have a huge collection to the Hurons from 1860’s-1946 feel free to give me a shout


  8. My Great Grandfather was a member of the 161st after 1912. His name was Henry James Thomas Bates, Born: 4 December, 1885 at Hampshire, England. He died in Midland Ontario 31 Aug 1961. Do you have any information on him serving with the Battalion during this era? Thank you Terry Bates (Great Grandson)


    • Hi Terry,
      Sorry for the delay. I had to take a hiatus from the blog due to long-distance employment. But I am back updating the blog and its men. I have a John Henry Bates, whose father was George Bates of Goderich. Would it be the same man as your great grandfather? I’ll do some more research. In the meantime, let me know if you think it is the same man.


      • Hello and thank you. John or George Bates no relation. My Great Grandfather Henry Bates came to Goderich in 1912 from England. His parents stayed in UK.


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