One of Canada’s only Black First World War veterans honoured with street naming in Brampton

Published May 16, 2023 at 9:14 am

Brampton is honouring the service of decorated First World War veteran and Canada’s first Black Regimental Sergeant Major, Henry Shepherd.

The City held an unveiling ceremony on Monday (May 15) to christen Chapel St. in downtown Brampton as RSM Henry Shepherd Way, paying tribute to the veteran who was one of approximately 150 Black Canadian soldiers who served in front-line units during the First World War.

Shepherd was born in Georgetown in 1895, joining the Halton Rifles in 1911 and enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915 where he served in France during the First World War.

During his service, he was wounded twice but returned to duty both times and was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

After the war, Shepherd returned to his job working at a paper mill but remained active with the military, serving as the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) for Brampton’s Lorne Scots Regiment until 1939.

Shepherd received the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935 and the Coronation Medal when George VI became King in 1937.

When the Second World War broke out, Shepherd re-enlisted as a Private but was unable to serve overseas due to his previous injuries. Instead Shepherd was transferred to Newmarket’s #23 Training Centre and promoted to Company Sergeant Major.

Shepherd was also a founding member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #120 in Georgetown and in his civilian life was a volunteer firefighter and Chief of the Georgetown Fire Department, the first Black man to hold the position.

Shepherd died on July 24, 1960 at Sunnybrook Veterans Hospital in Toronto and was highly respected by his officers and fellow soldiers, staying active in the community and proudly serving as the Parade Marshal at many Remembrance Day parades.

To learn more about RSM Henry Shepherd and the contribution of Black Canadians to the military visit

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