The History of Long and Brier Islands

Training for War on The Islands

by | Nov 6, 2021 | Central Grove, Freeport, Tiverton, Westport | 0 comments

World War 1

July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918

This is a story about the men who enlisted and trained on our Island’s for “The Great World War of 1914-1918”

The Canadian Parliament didn’t choose to go to war in 1914. The country’s foreign affairs were guided in London. So when Britain’s ultimatum to Germany to withdraw its army from Belgium expired on Aug 4th 1914, the British Empire, including Canada, was at war, allied with Serbia, Russia, and France against Germany and Austro-Hungarian empire

On August 4, 1914, the Governor-General then declared a war between Canada and Germany. It was not entirely unexpected: for the previous two weeks there had been increasingly alarming reports of confrontations among the nations of Europe, and then mounting speculation that Great Britain, too, would be involved, Canada, the empire’s first and largest dominion.

Canada has often been described as an unmilitary country. The last time Canada was involved in a war was the War of 1812 (which lasted from 1812 to 1814) and was a military conflict between the United States and Great Britain. As a colony of Great Britain, Canada was swept up in the War of 1812 and was invaded several times by the Americans. So for one hundred years Canada was unprepared for a war.

In 1914, no one wanted to miss out on what they thought was going to be a big adventure.

The soldiers were the first to be recruited and trained in Nova Scotia. The recruiting process began in October 1914 at various hubs around the province. Many men from our Islands and Digby Neck joined the war effort as soon as they could. Enlisted men were brought back to their communities to encourage other men they knew to enlist.

Ordinary soldiers began their training with physical fitness exercises, learning how to march and follow commands, and how to use their weapons.

At the beginning of the war soldiers were issued with a ‘Small Book’, which recorded their personal details and service records as well as instructions for life in the field.

With the large number of recruits meant that existing facilities were not big enough, so new training camps were constructed. Recruits would stay with local families until accommodation could be provided. The army also had a shortage of khaki at the beginning of the war, and could not provide uniforms for all recruits straight away.

First on Islands to Enlist:

Digby Courier; Oct. 1st 1915

Recruiting Meetings:

Digby Courier; Oct. 8th 1915

Digby Courier; Oct 8th 1915

Digby Courier; Jan. 14th 1916

Digby Courier; Jan. 28th 1916


During the week beginning with Jan. 17th, a recruiting campaign was carried out throughout Digby Neck and Long and Brier Islands. Six meetings were held during the trip with Maj. Parker, of Middletown, and Mr. Parker , Recruiting Officer for Anna. Co., as speaker. The addresses of these gentlemen were plain and comprehensive and explained the need of the country very thoroughly. Not withstanding the urgent appeal that was made, only twenty-seven men signed the honour roll.

The following is a list of the towns in which the meetings were held, and the number signed on each meeting:


Little River…….5




From Central Grove we got three who were present at meetings at Freeport and Tiverton. Since the meetings were held, several men have came foreward and we hope the good work will continue.

By March 1916 the army had setup a detachment for the 219th in Westport, Freeport and Tiverton for training. Mr. L. C. Titus took command of the Westport detachment.

Digby Courier; March 3rd 1916

Tiverton News

Digby Courier; March 17th 1916

Tiverton News

Digby Courier; March 31st 1916

By the end of March 1916 there was 37 soldiers enlisted on the Islands and they had moved all Island soldiers to the Tiverton Detachment under the command of Lieut. L.L. Titus

Tiverton News

Digby Courier; April 7th 1916

Digby Courier; April 14th 1816

Digby Courier; April 20th 1916

42 Training at Tiverton

Digby Courier; May 5th 1916

Digby Courier; May 12th 1916

Digby Courier; May 26th 1916

219th at the Tiverton Drill Shed 1916

The Tiverton Drill Shed, today is the long building that is next to the road in Tiverton just before the ferry. It has been used since the war as a place to dry and process salt fish by Alvah Young and then Small Bros and now it belongs to Dean Albright.

Albert Welch

Tiverton Detachment Leaves for Aldershot

Digby Courier; June 2nd 1916

Digby Courier; June 9th 1916

Digby Courier; June 16th 1916

Digby Courier; June 30th 1916

Letter Home from Pte. Hamilton Elliott

Digby Courier; Nov. 17th 1916

In Flanders Field

Digby Courier; Feb. 1st 1918

Digby Courier; April 19th 1918

Digby Courier; April 26th 1918

Digby Courier; March 8th 1918

Digby Courier; June 21st 1918

Digby Courier; June 18th 1918

Digby Courier; July 5th 1918

Digby Courier; Nov. 15th 1918

Fifth Killed from Freeport

Digby Courier; Nov. 22nd 1918

At the end of the 1950’s Sea Scouts were organized at Freeport and I was a member. Before the group would meet each week at the vestry, behind the church, us kids would play outside. Sometimes we would gather in the garage behind the parsonage and play up in the loft where there was a machine gun. I always wondered about this gun and why it was there and what it was used for. It was only lately that I discovered a little more about it.

It had been left in this garage loft since the first war. The soldiers had used it for training. I always thought it was for protection of the village, but then I realized there was only a handful of people who knew how to use it. I don’t know what happened to it, it disappeared over time and the garage has been moved behind the next house down the road. I wonder if there were more of these machine guns left behind in the other two village?


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