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.