The City of Chilliwack will recognize three local army reserve units that have historic connections to the area with an honour that dates back to ancient Rome on Saturday.
The 39 Combat Engineer Regiment, The Royal Westminster Regiment and the 39 Service Battalion will receive the Freedom of the City, a ceremonial honour and token of appreciation bestowed to military units for their long-standing service and dedication to a community.
The historic tie of military engineers in Chilliwack stretches back to 1941 when Camp Chilliwack was founded at Vedder Crossing.
The 39 Combat Engineer Regiment has Regimental Headquarters, Administration Squadron and 54 Engineer Squadron located at the Chilliwack Armoury.
The Royal Westminister Regiment has the longest connection with Chilliwack, going back to 1910 when the D Company of the 104th Regiment Westminster Fusiliers of Canada was opened here.
Their armoury was built in 1913 and still stands as a city landmark on Princess Street.
Due to army reorganization, D Company was closed in 1960. The Queen conferred the honour "Royal" upon the Regiment in 1967, and on April 1, 2013, the Regiment returned to re-establish D Company at the Chilliwack Armoury. The ceremonial honour, which allows recipients to march around the city with drums beating and flags raised, has origins that date back to ancient Rome.
During Roman times, certain elected officials and generals were forbidden entry into the city as the city boundaries were considered sacred. Soldiers were also banned from carrying weapons within city limits for traditional and religious reasons.
European cities during the Middle Ages adopted similar laws to protect the public from drunkenness and looting by the king's soldiers.
The Freedom of the City was only granted to local military units that earned the trust of citizens.
The service will take place at the Chilliwack Museum at 45820 Spadina Ave. at 1 p.m. There will be several road closures on the day of the event from noon to 2 p.m. on the following roadways: Spadina Ave between Corbould Street and First Avenue; Yale Rd between Princess Ave and Hodgins Ave/Cheam Ave; Main Street between Yale Road and Kipp Ave; Ontario Street between Yale and Mary Street; and Mary Street between Ontario and Spadina.
About the Regiments and Battalion
39 Combat Engineer Regiment (39 CER)
39 CER has their Regiment Headquarters (RHQ), Administration Squadron (Admin Sqn) and 54 Engineer Squadron (54 ES) located at the Chilliwack Armoury (the old 1 CER/ASU building). The Regiment also has a squadron in North Vancouver (6 ES) and a squadron in Trail (44 ES).
The role of Canadian Military Engineers (CMEs) is to assist friendly troops to live, move and fight on the battlefield and to deny the enemy the same. They support the Canadian Forces in war and in peace, support national development, provide assistance to our civil authorities and support international aid programmes.
The Royal Westminster Regiment
The Royal Westminster Regiment (the 'Westies') is the oldest active military unit in British Columbia. In 2013 they are celebrating 150 years of unbroken service "for King and Country." The Regiment is organized as a military light infantry battalion, consisting of two rifle companies, a headquarters company and a Regimental volunteer band. The Regiment has previously been granted Freedom 39 Service Battalion of the Cities of New Westminster, Mission, Matsqui, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and London, England, in recognition of the unit's wartime service to Canada and the local communities.
39 Service Battalion
and all its Regular and Reserve predecessors are combat service support units. In Chilliwack, the combat service support units of various sizes have been here since the Canadian Army was locally established. They continue to serve to this day in all areas of operations and venues. The 39 Service Battalion trains a variety of tradesmen such as drivers, stores, mechanics and cooks, who dedicate their free time to train in their service of their country.
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