Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Global

Remembering the Canadian Forestry Corps

By Derek Nighbor      

Approximately 24,000 men served as part of the Forestry Corps in various parts of Europe to work on processing timber for construction of barracks, roads, trenches, ammunition boxes, and other supplies.

A war-time poster advertising the role played by Canadians in the forestry industry. Photograph courtesy of The Forest Products Association of Canada
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

November 11th marks Remembrance Day, a time to remember those who have served in the armed forces—including a little known group called the Canadian Forestry Corps.

It is somewhat fitting that this Corps served in Europe—after all, the roots of the Canadian forest products industry as an export sector go back to the Napoleonic wars of the early 1800s, when Britain first turned to its colonies for the square timbers needed for its burgeoning navy.

The forest products industry was a dominating economic force in Canada’s early history, so it’s no surprise that it had an important role in the first and second world wars. And it’s an interesting yarn.

On February 16, 1916 British Colonial Secretary, Andrew Bonar Law, made a request of the Governor General of Canada to deploy Canadian lumbermen to aid in the cutting and processing of timber. Later that year, the Canadian Forestry Corps was created.

The request was an unusual one—regularly Canada would ship processed timber across the Atlantic to Britain. However, due to the high risk of travelling overseas from German U-boats, it was deemed safer to bring the manpower to work in the forests of Britain and continental Europe.

canadianforestrycorps

The Canadian Forestry Corps at work. Photograph courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.

Approximately 24,000 men served as part of the Forestry Corps in various parts of Europe to work on processing timber for construction of barracks, roads, trenches, ammunition boxes, and other supplies. By the end of the war, the Corps had produced approximately 85,000 tonnes of round timber, 260 million board feet of lumber, and over 200,000 tons of fuel and slabs.

Besides producing lumber, the Corps was also trained as infantry and on at least one occasion the Corps members were called to arms. When a request was made for 500 men to join infantry duty, records show that almost 1,300 volunteered. By the time the offensive had been halted, a large number of Corps members had served in some capacity on front lines.

When it was disbanded in 1920 at the end of the war, it is estimated that the Corps was responsible for 70 per cent of all lumber that had been used by Allied forces.

In 1940 the Canadian Forestry Corps was re-established in response to the start of WWII to play the same role.

It is important to remember that war touches the lives of all Canadians, regardless of age, gender, race, or social class. The Canadian Forestry Corps was made up of men who went from the back bushes of rural Canada to the front lines of war.

We should all take time—not only on November 11th, but always— to remember those who made sacrifices to give us a better today and tomorrow.

More in News

Conservative MP Gallant calls for review of St. Lawrence water regulation plan and links to flooding, though experts deny connection

News|By Nina Russell
Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant also wrote to Jane Corwin, chair on the International Joint Commission, calling for a review of the water regulation plan and to make adjustments accordingly.

Majority of Canadians may support TMX, but the project remains an electoral risk for Liberals: pollsters

It’s up to the prime minister to decide if he ‘wants to go into the next election arresting Indigenous communities and leaders,’ says the Squamish Nation council’s Dustin Rivers.

Opposition MPs skirt top soldier, place blame for DND ‘chaos’ on Trudeau, Sajjan

News|By Neil Moss
Conservative and NDP MPs say chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance was 'following orders' coming from the PMO and the defence minister.

Too much party control in ‘highly uncompetitive’ candidate selection: Samara study

‘Parties effectively get to choose the pool of people who will become Members of Parliament,' says Paul Thomas, based on Samara’s recent analysis of 6,600 candidates between 2004 and 2015.

Lack of Inuit language supports a key concern for advocates 20 years after Nunavut formed

Fostering use of Inuit languages was a key aim in creating Nunavut, but 20 years later, NTI president Aluki Kotierk says there's been a 'failure' when it comes to providing essential services to the public in Inuktut.

Alberta inquiry into ‘foreign-funded’ anti-energy industry groups latest chapter in ‘misdirected attacks,’ says charity

News|By Mike Lapointe
The provincial NDP critic says inquiry is 'only going to increase opposition to energy development in Alberta,' with one expert calling it attempt to put a 'chill' on activism in Canada.

Take a lesson, premiers: women’s soccer leading the charge on gender equality

Opinion|By Tim Powers
While Canada's premiers were at a prostates-only party in Saskatoon and Donald Trump was being Donald Trump, the U.S Women’s National soccer team was disrupting all manner of cultural norms.

Singh looks to defend Quebec seats in weeklong tour across province

News|By Palak Mangat
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is touring key ridings in Quebec this week currently held by New Democrats.

Canada should keep focus on human rights in midst of U.S.-Iran spiralling tensions, say activists

News|By Neil Moss
Global Affairs says Canada's priority in engagement with Iran is the case of Maryam Mombeini who has not been able to leave Iran since March of 2018 following the death of her imprisoned husband.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.