It’s Wayback Wednesday, sponsored by Jamie Lockwood, broker/owner of Sutton Group Muskoka Realty!
This is the 122nd Battalion in 1916. It was Muskoka’s own battalion, the only one it had in either of the world wars.
The government had decided that every county and district in Ontario would have the opportunity to have a battalion. Colonel D.M Grant of Huntsville was given the task of raising the 122nd battalion in 1915, to be comprised entirely of men from Muskoka. His goal was to recruit 1,150 men. Nine hundred men from across Muskoka would eventually join.
The Town of Huntsville provided indoor drill facilities, along with washrooms and soldiers’ baths. Citizens boarded the visiting soldiers, both as an honour and because the government paid 60 cents per day for the soldiers’ board. Lands outside of town were used for mock battles and drills.
In June 1916, the by then 800-member battalion set off on a 100-mile trek through Muskoka’s leading centres to practise long-distance marches.
They left in the first week of July to spend the summer training at Borden Camp, what would later become Base Borden.
While spending the winter at Galt, the battalion organized a forestry section – skilled foresters were needed by allied forces to supply lumber for the trenches.
In April 1917, the battalion left Galt for Toronto, took a train to the east coast from there, and then shipped overseas on board the Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. Many would transfer to the Canadian Forestry Corps.
Those at home planted vegetable gardens, embraced the ‘keep a pig’ campaign to bolster the Allies’ meat supply, and endured government-imposed ‘heatless days’ during the last winter of the war to conserve coal and firewood.
In May 1918, the first conscripted soldiers were sent out, leaving local farms struggling. By June of that year, voluntary rationing had been introduced. Every person 16 years or older had to register for labour programs.
When the war ended in November 1918, Huntsville threw a huge party
(Photo courtesy of Muskoka Heritage Place, details from Huntsville: With Spirit and Resolve by Susan Pryke)
See more Wayback Wednesday photos here.
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