The enthusiasm of Lt.-Col. J. Hilliard Rorke is catching and the 1000 Leaguers of all over the County have got the spirit of extreme optimism and are entering upon the campaign with renewed vigour.
(Flesherton Advance, 15 Feb 1917, 4)
Facing the dismal late-war recruiting environment, Joseph Hilliard Rorke devised a new strategy to fill his battalion. In January 1917, he formed the “1000 Thousand League,” composed of one thousand citizens in Grey County who each pledged to secure one volunteer by 1 March.
Born on 30 November 1876 in Thornbury, Ontario, Rorke was a graduate of McGill University, a Montreal executive and sportsman. An expert shot, he was a veteran of the Boer War as well as member of the 31st Regiment and the McGill C.O.T.C. His cousin, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Victor Rorke commanded the 20th Battalion on the front from December 1916 to June 1918.
Ultimately, Rorke’s “1000 League” system failed. Although he found hundreds of citizens who promised to find a recruit, the battalion sailed for England with less than 300 men.
He died in Montreal on 25 March 1936 following a long illness.