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