BC Dragoons Centennial
Celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of the BC Dragoons Regiment took place from Wednesday, May 11 to Monday, May 16, 2011. More than 300 military officials and their family members along with an 18-member Sister City delegation from Veendam Holland, took part in a number of events and tours of the community.
Freedom of the City Ceremony
Mayor Sharon Shepherd and Members of Council took part in a special ceremony, the Freedom of the City on Saturday, May 14 from 1 to 2 p.m. A re-proclamation of the Regiment's Freedom followed by a Regimental parade and roll past that took place in front of City Hall.
The Regiment was originally granted the Freedom of the City on February 11, 1963.
Parade and Roll Past
The 15th Field Artillery Band, Royal Canadian Artillery and The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Marys) Pipes and Drums provided music throughout the parade. Various historical vehicles as well as current military equipment participated in the roll past.
Highest honour a City can bestow
The Freedom of the City is the highest honour a city can bestow on a Canadian Forces unit. This custom goes back over three centuries granting the privilege to specific military unit to march through the city with “drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed” and a Regimental parade in front of City Hall.
"Coming Home" Statue
To further commemorate the significance of the 100th anniversary, the BC Dragoons presented the City with a one-ton marble statue entitled “Coming Home” created by Frances Keifer-Bezeau, a former Okanagan resident. The statue will be located at the Kelowna International Airport Arrivals area.
The weekend’s activities officially ended on Monday, May 16 with a formal recognition of the BC Dragoons Centennial and presentation to City Council by the Veendam Sister City Association.
The status of any military unit is improved significantly if it may display the battle honours earned by blood and sweat. For Canadian Army units, the ‘Colours,’ or in the case of cavalry/armoured units the ‘Guidon,’ (as show above) is a very decorative and consecrated flag with lists of titles and place names associated with valiant service by the unit in battle. The BCD’s Guidon incorporates honours earned by the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles (2CMR) in World War I and the 9th Canadian Armoured Regiment (BCD) during World War II. The original 2CMR’s Colours had burned in a fire at the All Saint’s Anglican Church in Vernon in 1931, of which the embroidered badge from the flag, and the brass laurel wreath were recovered.
Traditionally, Colours were carried into battle for unit identification and were defended to the death bringing great shame to the unit that lost it to the enemy, who might consider it a trophy. For Canadian Militia, or reserve units the awarding of Colours raised its reputation to the same level of other decorated and historic units. Members from then on would cherish that reputation and honour those who fought to achieve it.
Colours are awarded by the ruling monarch and presented by a member of the Royal Family, in this case, Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra of Kent at a ceremony held on the grounds of the University of Victoria in May 1967. Two other units received their colours at the same event. The BCDs sent 54 members to the parade, including the units’ Padre, Deputy Chaplain General H. A. Merklinger, to consecrate the Guidon in a traditional drumhead service.