With the outbreak of the Second World War one of the many units to be formed was The Canadian Tunnelling Companies.

There were initially two Tunnelling Companies, No. 1 Tunnelling Company and No. 2 Tunnelling Company.

In April 1941, a detachment of No 1 Tunnelling Company was dispatched to Scotland to assist with a hydroelectric expansion project. The tunnels that where being built at the Loch Laggan area were part of a project to connect Loch Laggan and Loch Crunachan with a tunnel. This would allow for the production of hydroelectricity to help increase the amount of power to the local British Aluminum Smelter Works at Fort William. This facility was a crucial part of a group of facilities that were used to make the fighter and bomber planes of the Royal Air Force. [1]

On 13th June, 1941, disaster struck. At about 1600 hours, Corporal James Hendry came out of the tunnel to find the powder house on fire. Shouting an alarm he ran to warn the compressor man and the steep-sharpener in the workshop, both unaware of the blaze tough close by, and picking up a pail of water he headed for the powder house to try to put the fire out. Although he could easily have gotten clear, others nearby were also in danger, and if the magazine blew up, the resulting damage would put a stop to the job for some time. He was an experienced miner and fully aware of the chance he took. The gallant attempt failed: there was a devastating explosion in which Hendry died. Hoist house, workshop and powder house disappeared. The steel-sharpening shop was flattened and caught fire. A number of men were hurt, two seriously and one was killed by a falling stone as he emerged from the tunnel.

Corporal Hendry was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his devotion to duty and disregard of his own safety. [2]

Fall 2012

Almonte District High School teacher Jennifer Yake gets her history class, involved in the Lest We Forget Project. The Project encourages students to learn more about those who were involved with the First and Second World War. Students were tasked with researching and writing about individuals who whose names are listed on Almonte Cenotaph. Assistance was provided by the President of Almonte Legion Branch 240, the North Lanark Historical Society in Appleton ON and a visit to Library and Archives Canada.

One of the students, Kyler Gaboury, selected Sapper John McDougall Stewart for his research. Sapper Stewart was the soldier who was killed by the falling stone. Kyler has granted CME History permission to publish his biography of Sapper Stewart. The biography can has been posted on the Echo 2 website. http://mypage.uniserve.ca/~echo2/Don.htm

– Almonte District High School is located in Almonte ON, just outside of Ottawa. From Almonte it is a 45 minute drive to Library and Archives Canada.
– this was the second year that Ms Yake got her class involved in the Lest We Forget Project. She plans to involve her 2013-2014 students, in the Project.
– George M Hendry (no relation to Corporal Hendry) researched Corporal Hendry and the Tunnell project. Unfortunately he passed away before he had completed his work. His daughter, Susan Hendry, completed her fathers’ work and produced a DVD.

Lest We Forget Project – http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/education/cenotaph/025009-1104-e.html
The Almonte Cenotaph – http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onlanark/Cenotaphs/almonte_cenotaph.htm and https://www.cdli.ca/monuments/on/volunteer.htm

[1] Gaboury, Kyler Biography John McDougall Stewart, 2013
[2] Kerry, A.J. and W.A. McDill. The History of Royal Canadian Engineers, Vol II 1936-1946. Ottawa: Military Engineers Association of Canada, 1966.