The Canadian Army has a new and growing presence in Cranbrook, and is celebrating with an open house, Saturday, Jan. 19.
The 44 Engineer Squadron, of 39 Combat Engineer Regiment, is opening a new Armoury at 2500 Cranbrook Street.
The 44th Engineer Squadron, based out of Trail and Cranbrook, is a sub-unit of the 39 Combat Engineer Regiment — a reserve regiment of the Canadian Forces. It is made up of combat engineers and other support trades from both Cranbrook and Trail.
“It’s a pretty cool trade within the military,” Major Leah Wilson, Commander of the squadron, told the Townsman in an earlier interview. “They build bridges, they do demolitions, breaching — all your basic soldiering skills, on top of working with some pretty neat equipment.”
The new base is the culmination of a months-long search.
As part of its stated goal of strengthening the Reserve component, the Department of National Defence was searching for a building suitable for lease, and large enough for “accommodating an Army Reserve Combat Engineer organization.”
Major Wilson said that previously, the Squadron had been represented in Cranbrook by a small troop that paraded at Kennedy Hall, but that location was no longer sufficient to the unit’s needs. A larger facility was needed, to store and maintain equipment in Cranbrook, serve as a base from which to grow numbers, and have a real presence in Cranbrook.
The facility will serve as training establishment and depot, with space to house some of the squadron’s bigger trucks and sundry equipment, and to work out of in a multitude of capacities.
The recruiting process has been made a simpler in recent years. Used to be, recruiting was done through the larger recruiting centres, such as Vancouver and Calgary.Now recruiting can be done locally, with initial screening in Cranbrook and Trail. From the first time one walks in the door, a month later one can be on the payroll.
”It’s great part-time work,” Major Wilson said in an earlier interview. “People get to stay and work in the community where they’re from, serve their country.”
A public open house will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the new armoury at 2500 Cranbrook Street North (down by Sandor Rentals), from noon until 4 p.m. The community is welcome to come out and meet the soldiers who are serving in our area, and discover more about what the squadron does. During the open house, military engineer equipment and interactive displays will be set up throughout the armoury.
An official opening ceremony will take place at 4 p.m., with Col. Paul Ursich, Commander of Canadian Brigade Group, conducting the ceremony.