presentation of painting to WHHS

WHHS accepts Rudnicki painting, They Fought to Serve, on permanent loan

On the morning of July 9th 2020 we had one of those magical moments when all the right things come together. In this case it was art, culture, heritage, and most importantly, community.

On that occasion we were pleased to accept on permanent loan a wonderful painting entitled, “They Fought to Serve”, by renowned artist, the late Richard Rudnicki, commemorating the Black Canadians who served in the historic No. 2 Construction Battalion during World War I.
The painting was generously offered to us by the Army Museum Halifax Citadel and was painted by Rudnicki in 2017 while he was the artist-in-residence for the Army Museum.

Since this art depicts a chapter in the story of the Nova Scotia and West Hants African Nova Scotian Community we felt it was important to have members of that community present when it was signed over into our care. So joining us were educator and community activist, Sharmay Beals-Wentzell, and family historian and descendant of a member of No. 2 Construction Battalion, Rodney Johnson.

Not only did Sharmay and Rodney represent their community, they’ll also be a key part of a working group to develop a Black History exhibit at the museum and organize a formal dedication ceremony at a later date as COVID restrictions allow.

This loan came about when Army Museum Curator, Ken Hynes, noted that at least 16 members of the battalion enlisted in West Hants in 1916, and contacted WHHS President Kel Hancock to offer the painting on permanent loan.

We will certainly give it a good home and display it in a place of honour within our exhibits.
We thank Ken Hynes for his thoughtfulness and appreciate his support and we thank Roddy and Sharmay for joining us today.

We’ve been able to confirm that the following men, from the forests, quarries, and farms of West Hants, laid down their tools to enlist in No. 2 Construction Battalion and ship out for France where they picked up tools again and made a valuable and significant contribution to the efforts of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and, indeed, to Canada’s history:

931335 Private Allison, Clarence
Next of Kin: Allison, Mrs. Sarah
Mapleton, Hants Co., N.S. Canada
Date Enlisted: October 18, 1916

931053 Private Allison, Kenneth
NOK: Allison, Albert
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
July 27, 1916

931198 Private Allison, William
NOK: Allison, Albert
Mapleton, Hants Co., N.S.
August 22,1916

931376 Private Atkinson, Henry
NOK: Atkinson, William
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
December 28, 1916

931341 Private Croxen, James
NOK: Croxen, Mrs. Alice
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
October 30, 1916

931370 Private Grey, Everett
NOK: Grey, Rupert
Master’s Mills, Hantsport, Hants Co.,
December 15, 1916

931050 Private Hamilton, Benjamin
NOK: Fielding, P.M.
Windsor, Hants Co., N.S.
July 28, 1916

931367 Private Hamilton, Prescott Hilton
NOK: Hamilton, Mrs. Elizabeth
Windsor, Hants Co., N.S.
December 30, 1916

931052 Private Johnson, Arthur
NOK: Johnson, George A.
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
July 28, 1916

931235 Private Johnson, Frank
NOK: Johnson, Mrs. Edward
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
September 4, 1916

931051 Corporal Johnson, George A.,
NOK: Johnson, Mrs. Caroline
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
July 26, 1916

931159 Private Johnson, William
NOK: Johnson, Mrs. Sarah E.
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S. December 30, 1916

931386 Private Parris, Garfield J.,
NOK: Mrs. Alice Parris
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
December 30, 1916

931230 Private Smith, John
NOK: Clark, Miss Lavinia
Newport Station, Hants Co., N.S.
September 4, 1916

931237 Private States, Cornelius
NOK: States, Alonzo
Mapleton, Hants Co., N.S.
September 4, 1916

931178 Private States, Harold
NOK: States, Alonzo Mapleton, Hants Co., N.S.
August 21, 1916

“They Fought to Serve” is now on display in the museum and we invite you all to come and view this remarkable artwork.
Stay tuned for more news on the painting and an official unveiling in the coming months.

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