Monumental changes are afoot at the former site of CFB Chilliwack. Literally.
Three different monuments testifying to Chilliwack's vibrant military history are being given new life by local donors and the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society (CFBCHS).
The historical society is raising money to restore the 63-year-old saluting base that currently sits on University of the Fraser Valley grounds beside Caen Road.
"Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack was here since 1942 and now, if you look around, there's nothing left. Really the only last thing there is the saluting base, on the base side," CFBCHS president Jim Harris told the Times. "The saluting base is going to be the only reminder to everybody that the camp stood here."
The society is selling engraved bricks and hopes to raise $25,000 towards the monument's refurbishment. But several key additions won't cost a penny: the original hat badge from the monument-salvaged in 2002 by Capt. Peter Pitcher, an officer with the Aldergrove-based 192 Construction Engineer Flight-has been donated; and two "ubique" inserts are on their way back to Chilliwack from the Canadian Military Engineer Museum.
"We had some pretty famous people stand on that saluting base-some very famous generals and Princess Margaret," Harris said.
The society has also received what Harris is calling "quite a large donation" from an unnamed donor to go towards the saluting base's refurbishment.
The base is in fairly good shape, Harris said, but still requires a sandblasting, a spray wash and a recoating. When the upgrades are complete, the base will also feature the original engineering colours of brick red and navy blue.
Harris is excited about the change to the former base's base.
"I'm ecstatic," he said. The CFBCHS plans to unveil the refurbished base at a ceremony on Thanksgiving Day weekend in the fall.
The society has also received a $5,000 grant from the Chilliwack Foundation that will allow two 18tonne monuments to be returned to the public's view.
The 50-year and bell-tent monuments pay tribute to the base's 50th anniversary and 1942 founding, respectively. They were moved to storage following the base's closure, but the Chilliwack Foundation donation will allow them to be placed in prominent locations on the former CFB Chilliwack grounds. (The society is in discussions with the Canada Lands Corporation to confirm a resting place for the monuments).
"They'll certainly be eye-catching," Harris said. "They'll get interest and get people to go over and read the plaques associated with them."
Harris added that the society is "very, very thankful" for the grant. "Our historical society is not very rich," he said.