Peter Sturdy’s ‘161st Huron Bat­tal­ion’ book launch at the Le­gion

The Goderich Signal-Star - - Opinion -

The at­mos­phere at the Goderich YMCA was one of warmth and com­radery as Sweet Love Eats hosted their first Com­mu­nity Potluck. Open to ev­ery­one at no charge, the event was at­tended by around 30 peo­ple. They shared some of their favourite dishes, met some new peo­ple and en­joyed an ex­cel­lent meal to­gether. It was an op­por­tu­nity to re­visit sim­pler times when church sup­pers and town pic­nics were a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence.

The event was the brain­child of Sweet Love Eats owner Nicole Mack­ech­nie, who planned and ex­e­cuted the event with the help of the YMCA. In the 100th An­niver­sary of the end of WWI and the un­veil­ing of the Veter­ans Ban­ners on the Square, an­other ad­di­tion to hon­our­ing those valiant ef­forts dur­ing WWI comes to Goderich. Author Peter Sturdy’s new “in­for­mal ac­count”, as he refers to his books, was made avail­able to the pub­lic this week.

Ti­tled ‘The 161st Cana­dian Over­seas In­fantry Bat­tal­ion’ Sturdy’s new book war­rants at­ten­tion, cov­er­ing the in­volve­ment of Huron County in­di­vid­u­als dur­ing WWI.

Sturdy has noted in the book’s in­tro­duc­tion that the vol­ume has no pre­tence of be­ing a de­fin­i­tive ac­count of the Bat­tal­ion.

“The fo­cus of this book is rather lim­ited, in many re­spects, to the bat­tal­ion per­son­nel from around Goderich and two neigh­bour­ing town­ships, Col­borne and Goderich, with the odd foray to such cher­ishes out­posts as Dun­gan­non, Auburn and Bay­field.” Ac­cord­ing to Larry Mohring, a lo­cal his­to­rian and re­searcher who re­viewed the book noted that the fo­cus is on lo­cal mean, but it also cap­tures the events of the Bat­tal­ion as a whole - as it formed lo­cally, ral­lied and mo­bi­lized.

When asked what mo­ti­vated Sturdy to write this book, he says, “There never has been any ac­count of the 161st men from around Goderich. As a boy, I knew and in­ter­acted on a ba­sic level with a num­ber of the Vets in var­i­ous phases of life and still re­mem­ber many of them in a per­sonal way. “

Sturdy has pre­vi­ously pub­lished four ‘Hole in the Wall’ books, a three-vol­ume se­ries on the On­tario West Shore Rail­way and two-vol­umes on the Fe­nian trou­bles in Huron.

His books are well re­searched, and lav­ishly il­lus­trated with pho­tos and im­ages, some of which are seen for the first time. Friend and fel­low author Mohring took the ini­tia­tive to proof read the book and took a lead role with the printer in Lon­don to bring this project to the light of day. Writ­ten with a sar­donic flair, largely un­der the radar, and not one to pro­mote his work, friend Mohring en­cour­aged Sturdy to com­plete the book for the 100th An­niver­sary.

“I want the names on the Ceno­taph, if pos­si­ble, to be more than anony­mous names of cold gran­ite. I want to deepen the knowl­edge of the mil­i­tary his­tory of the Goderich area,” Sturdy says. “I al­ways re­flect on the fact when I was young and watch­ing Re­mem­brance Day pa­rades, the Vets were only young and now there are none alive.” Ac­cord­ing to Mohring, re­leas­ing the book shortly af­ter the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of WWI, Study’s book is not only timely, but elo­quently cap­tures both time and place lo­cally. He fur­ther adds that the book re­flects Sturdy’s well­known en­thu­si­asm and passion for lo­cal his­tory. Sturdy, like any good his­to­rian, has found new ways to tell a tale in a new way.

A book launch for Sturdy’s new­est book is sched­uled for Satur­day, Dec. 8 from 12pm un­til 3pm at the Goderich Le­gion.

The 260-page, lim­ited run, soft back is avail­able for pur­chase at The Book Ped­dler.

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