Skip to main content

Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC)

In both World War 1 (WW1) and World War 2 (WW2) the Canadian government formed the Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC), in answer to the British government's request for overseas woodsmen to cover a workforce shortage in Britain.

In WW2, the CFC consisted of around 30 companies that were sent to work, mainly in Scotland, but also elsewhere in Europe.

Although a military unit, the CFC’s main task was to cut down trees, not fight. They focused on recruiting men who were already experienced in forestry; few had military experience.

As the unit did not exist as part of the pre-war army it had to be recruited from scratch; a soldier’s rank therefore often depended on his previous status in the forestry industry.

“I remember in Haileybury driving my commanding officer to a small town to recruit Bob Smith, who had been recommended as a good blacksmith...Smith was interested and was immediately taken on strength as a sergeant because the establishment called for it”
Nicholson, 1962

This system worked well - those working in senior jobs in the wood cutting operations were used to leading men and organising work.

In WW2, unlike WW1, the Corps was given military training and each company was assigned specific defensive roles in the area they were working. In regard to wood operations, the Corps took orders from the Home Crown Timber Production Department of the British Ministry of Supply.

In respect to military operations, however, it still answered to the Canadian government. This situation of answering to two masters could have proved difficult but no serious problems resulted.