November 9, 2018 8:21 pm
Updated: November 10, 2018 11:24 am

AGO exhibit honours black Canadian soldiers who fought in First World War

WATCH: In honour of Remembrance Day, the Art Gallery of Ontario is showcasing a unique exhibition of photographs. The images are from the private collection of Canadian actor, producer and director Anthony Sherwood and feature black soldiers in the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada's first and only all-black battalion.


Actor, producer and director Anthony Sherwood smiles a proud smile when he looks at the First World War photograph of his great uncle, William Andrew White.

“I started collecting photographs of black soldiers when I first discovered that there was an all-black battalion formed in the First World War,” said Sherwood.

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The photo is one of 14 images from Sherwood’s private collection, featuring First World War soldiers in the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada’s first and only all-black battalion — an overlooked narrative of Canada’s participation in the war.

“When the First World War broke out, black Canadian men tried to enlist, but they were refused simply based on the colour of their skin,” said Sherwood.

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It was the discovery of Sherwood’s great uncle’s diary that inspired him to produce a documentary called Honour Before Glory.

“My great uncle, William Andrew White, spearheaded a movement to force the Canadian government to allow blacks to join the army,” said Sherwood.

The AGO exhibit Photography: First World War, 1914–1918 runs from Nov. 10 until April 14, 2019.

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