April 02, 2012
As they say, (whoever ‘they’ are) time flies, and so do I. Planning continues for the visit of HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, scheduled for September 15 & 16 this year. The Garrison Community Council – Niagara has been requested by the 2012 Commenorative Committee of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, to assist in the visit. Specifically the GCC-N has been requested to co-ordinate the VIP reception, which follows the parade; and to provide yours truly as the Master of Ceremonies for the presentation of Colours Ceremony to be held at Queenston Heights.
We are honoured to have asked and look forward to providing any assistance we can.
Planning also continues to the visit of Senator Pamela Wallin to the Niagara Penninsula, Oct 25/26. All details have yet to be worked out but the itinerary should keep the Senator occupied during her visit.
Friday will start with an informal breakfast with veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion, followed by a presentation to journalism students at Niagara College and then on to lunch. A subcommittee of the GCC-N has been formed under the auspices of Mrs. Lynette Yorke, and Regional Councillor Mrs. Barb Greenwood, to coordinate details of the fundraiser Luncheon planned for the Friday.
Volunteers have also requested the opportunity to open the Lincoln and Welland Regimental Museum at the Historic Butlers barracks to give the Senator a tour and display ‘The Vimy Gun’.
The GCC momentum continues to build. As I commence a short trip to Alberta and Saskatchewan, I feel at truly home in Big Sky Country.
Catching up with a friend over coffee in Calgary, it was as if the past 12 years simply melted away. Seeing my oldest two children certainly added to the pleasure of the trip; but my focus was slightly east of the foothills and Calgary to the rolling plains of wild horses, soldiers, ranchers and oil and gas production. Sunset still goes on forever.
Saturday, March 31, my visit to Medicine opens with a tour of the Regimental Museum of the South Alberta Light Horse. Situated in one of the original building from the WWII German POW camp, one of the largest is the Commonwealth, the museum had its official opening a year ago and demonstrates the results of years of dedication and hard work of private individuals who proudly display the local connections to Canada’s Armed Forces, past and present. It never ceases to amaze me what can be achieved by a small group of people who care.
The new Commanding Officer, Major Colin of the SALH conducted the tour with the new Honourary Lieutenant Colonel, J. Angus Watt. Angus is a Managing Director, Individual Investor Services, Angus Watt Advisory Group, National Bank Financial, located in Edmonton.
This visit is held in conjunction with the Vimy Dinner, held annually to celebrate and honour the sacrifices of the Regiment during the famous WWI Battle or Vimy Ridge. A superb evening at the historic ‘Cypress Club’ of Medicine Hat, with old and new friends, ‘swapping war stories and other lies’. Of interest, the ‘Cypress Club’ was originally constructed and operated long before the advent of hotels and motels; mainly for the benefit of Ranchers and Business people visiting ‘The Hat’ during Rodeos, livestock auctions and farming events.
There is a renewed interest in initiating a GCC in Medicine Hat and Edmonton. The Mayor of Medicine Hat, Norm Boucher, has requested that I visit before returning east to brief on the concept. Being a retired member of the RCMP, Mayor Boucher is only too well aware of the importance of having community support and involvement with the military. He is committed to building stronger relations with nearby Canadian Forces Base Suffield, and the SALH. I will meet with him in his office on Thursday of this week, with Paul Mast, President of the SALH Association and the United Services Institute. After meeting with Mayor Boucher, I am off to visit with Col Doug Claggett, Commander of CFB Suffield, to bring him up to speed on the concept.
Major Michaud and Mr. Watt, both of whom reside in Edmonton, have also requested a briefing on the GCC. The days are fading quickly when individual wealthy Canadians could carry the expense of supporting non-government funded activities of units of our military. If Canadians see a need for the perpetuation of historic activities through stronger connections with the military community, the GCC can provide them a means of becoming involved and celebrating their proud local and national heritage. I have promised to visit Edmonton as soon as possible to provide the information Mr. Watt and Maj Michaud need to encourage a GCC in Edmonton.
If this is Monday, Arpil 02, then I must be in Saskatoon. I am doing my recognisance, (finding my way around) in preparation for my meeting tomorrow afternoon with Col Dan Whittaker, Commanding Officer of the Saskatchewan Infantry Tactical Training Group. Dan is in the process of completing a very busy annual performance review of his direct reports and planning a live fire training exercise for local Reserve units. I expect to come away from this meeting with a confirmed point of contact within Saskatoon through which a GCC will be introduced and formed. Saskatoon is one of Canada’s fastest growing communities and within the top 35 communities in which to live in Canada. Youthful and vibrant it boasts an unemployment rate hovering at about 5%.
I will close this entry with an update on Thurs after I fade into the amazing western sunset.