New Brunswick Black History Society

Law Enforcement & Military

Black History in World War 1

Black men who tried to enlist were routinely turned away by white recruiting officers. After the Black leaders managed to make a national issue of this rejection, the military finally decided to create an all Black unit in April 1916. The unit that resulted was the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the only segregated Black Battalion in the history of the Canadian Military. This camp was segregated for Blacks only for the No. 2 Construction Battalion in Jura, France.

Gerald Douglas Carty

Gerald Douglas Carty (1925-2008)

Trailblazer in Aviation and Technology

Gerry  Carty was born in Saint John, N.B. in 1925, the son of Albert Carty and  Fanny (Tyler) Carty. He was one of five members of the Carty family to  serve in the air force during World War II. An earlier generation of the  family had served in World War I.  Gerry joined the RCAF in 1942 and  was selected to train as aircrew. He was the top student in his flying  course and at age 18 was promoted to Flight Lieutenant,  becoming one of the youngest commissioned officers in that branch of  the armed forces. At this time, although the RCAF had removed its ‘colour line’ against minority officers and pilots, African Canadian  bomber pilots were extremely rare. During the war he flew Wellington and Halifax bombers in 35

stories over occupied territory. The crews of the RCAF squadrons in Bomber Command  had the most hazardous duties of any Canadians during the war. Wounded  in action, Gerry spent his recovery in England by studying to become an electronics  technician.

His war service resulted in the Defence Medal, the War  Medal (Victory Medal) and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and  Clasp. Mr. Carty’s electronics technician certification was the first  granted in New Brunswick. Based in Fredericton in the post-war years, he  operated an electronics service centre and other businesses and was a  pioneer of cable television in the 1950s. On the aviation side he was  involved with a charter air service, was a founding member of the  Fredericton Flying Club and was the commanding officer and an instructor  for Air Cadets. Gerry Carty was heavily involved with other community  organizations, including the Royal Canadian Legion, the YMCA and the  RCAF Association.   

(Photo courtesy of the Carty Family )

Hartley Gosline


The First Black Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer from New Brunswick; First Black Mountie to be posted to Nova Scotia

As  a high school student in his native Saint John, NB, Hartley Gosline had  an important goal: to join Canada’s famed Mounted Police. Despite its  outstanding reputation at home and abroad, the RCMP, which dated back to  1874, was not a diverse organization in the 1960s. It would not recruit  its first female cadets until 1973. With the assistance of a Mountie  and the Royal Canadian Legion, the six foot one inch tall youth applied  and was accepted for the rigorous training program at the depot at  Regina, Saskatchewan. During training, Hartley was told by a drill  sergeant “you’d better be white by 6 a.m. the next morning.” In 1969, as  a constable, he became the first Black Mountie to be assigned to Nova  Scotia, serving in the New Glasgow detachment. Duties there included  highway patrol and general policing. He later reported that many citizens, not accustomed to seeing a Black Mountie, starred at him.  He went on to assignments in Dartmouth, Toronto,  Jasper and Edmonton. For a time he worked with the RCMP Security  Service Division (later absorbed by the Canadian Security &  Intelligence Service). His Security Service  work in Toronto in the 1970s was ‘classified.’ This policing  trailblazer left the RCMP in 1978 but continued his interest in law  enforcement, running a private investigation  company, serving as an Alberta liquor control inspector and working as a  fraud investigator for Human Resources Development Canada. In 2003 he  received, in Edmonton,  a nomination for the Canadian National Griot (Black Culture) Award.  Other Black Mounties have described him as their role model.

(Photo courtesy of Hartley Gosline)

Major Walter Peters

Major Walter Peters (1937-2013)

The First Canadian-born Black Jet Pilot in the RCAF; first Human Rights Officer for the Canadian Armed Forces.

Walter “Wally” Peters was a man of many accomplishments. Born the youngest of six children  in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis County during the Great Depression, he  relocated with his family to Saint John, N.B., where he graduated from  Saint John High School.  A gifted athlete, he switched from rugby to  football when he moved on to Mount Allison University, graduating in  1959. He went on to further studies at the University of Southern  California. Returning to Saint John, he worked for the municipal  government and for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. At 24  years of age he enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). At this  time there were very few African Canadians in the RCAF. Peters was  accepted into the jet pilot training program and completed the course  with top honours, becoming the first Canadian-born Black jet fighter pilot. He would have a distinguished  career in the Canadian Armed Forces as well as the broader realm of  aviation. Based in Saskatchewan, his skills were put to good use as a  flying instructor. He also flew the C-100 “Canuck” fighter/interceptor  in a number of air shows.  In the early 1970s he was involved in  organizing the famous Snowbirds air demonstration squadron, which flew  the iconic CT 114 Tutor jet.  In addition to being the first human  rights officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, Walter Peters was an  advisor to the United Nations Security Council in New York. In 1983 he  briefed the Security Council on the shooting down, by the Soviet air  force, of a Korean civilian airliner with the loss of nearly 300 lives.  He retired from the RCAF with the rank of Major in 1984 and worked until  1988 with Transport Canada. Many testify to his importance as a role  model for both visible minorities and all members of the RCAF. Walter  Peters was the first president of the New Brunswick Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.  

(Photo courtesy of Catherine (Peters) Jones)

Seamour Tyler

Seymour Tyler

A soldier, railwayman and farmer, Mr. Tyler was born in Saint John on  February 22, 1897. He enlisted in the Canadian army in 1915 and spent  most of the First World War with the Canadian Black Devils from Winnipeg  as a bugler. Prior to the war, he played in the Saint John Brass Band  and organized the first boy scout bugle band in Saint John. After the  war he started a trucking business in Saint John, but later decided he  wanted to become a farmer, so moved to the Ripples area, but he  maintained his ties with the military.

In the years prior to the Second World War, he  belonged to the York Regiment Matilda, and  just before the Second  World War the regiment was amalgamated with the Carlton Light Infantry  to form the Carlton York Regiment. When the Second World War broke out  the Carlton York Regiment was named part of the first contingent to be  sent over seas and Bugle Sergeant Tyler was with them. He was awarded  the Silver Bugle by his regiment in 1939 for 21 years of service. When  the ship landed in Scotland, he led the parade to where the first  Canadian contingent met future Governor General Vincent Massey and  Canadian Commander major General A.G.L. MacNaughton. One of Mr. Tyler’s  treasured memories was his visit with King George VI, and another with  Queen Elizabeth during the first inspection after arrival in Britain.  However, his career in the Second World War was cut short in 1941 when  his leg was broken in seven places during bombing attacks in the Battle  of Britain and was sent home.

He became known to thousands of  Canadians who traveled on the CPR where from 1941 to 1959 he served as a  porter on the Saint John to Montreal, Saint John to Boston, Toronto to  Regina and many other runs. When he returned to the family farm in  Minto, he became friend and confidant to many and distinguished himself  as the most honoured member of the Black community in new Brunswick for  the work he did to promote the pride, unity and dignity of his race  through education.