Answering the Call to Serve their (Acadian) Nation: The Volunteers of the 165th Battalion, 1911-1917


  • Gregory Kennedy



Little has been written about Acadian volunteers to the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War. This article offers a detailed profile of the volunteers of the 165th (Acadian) Battalion, created as part of a larger national initiative in 1916 to boost recruiting by appealing to specific regional and ethnic identities. However, recruiting for this unit fell short, as it did across Canada in 1916, and it was disbanded in 1917. The 885 volunteers were largely drawn from Francophone counties in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Longitudinal analysis linking them to their military records and the 1911 Canadian Census provides detailed information about their origins, occupations, and family situations. The volunteers were broadly representative of Acadian rural society, but disproportionately drawn from highly mobile and single young men from southeastern New Brunswick who had moved to Moncton in search of work. Comparing them to volunteer members of the 22nd (French Canadian) Battalion and the CEF as a whole provides new insights into the difficulties of voluntary recruitment for the CEF.