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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

New Ownership Of The Armouries

From left, current Commanding Officer of the PPCLI Cadet Corps in Wainwright, Lt. Walter Weir (past Commanding Officer of the Vermilion Cadets and the founder of the Lt. Col Craig Armouries Historical Society over 22 years ago), Commanding Officer of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Cadet Corps Capt. John Brooker, President of the Loyal Edmonton Regimental Association Jack Bowen, Vice President of the Loyal Edmonton Regimental Association Mike Rarog, and President of the Lt. Col. W. C. Craig Armoury Historical Society Don Henry. Photo Lorna Hamilton

Back in the day the local Armoury for Vermilion was located in the Immigration Hall east of the Railway Station and was used for the C Company of the 151st Battalion during World War 1 and then for the Squadron of the 1st Alberta Mounted Rifles in 1929. In September of 1951 construction began on a new Armouries for “A Company Headquarters,” Loyal Edmonton Regiment (LER), Vermilion. The construction was completed in September of 1952, with an official opening performed in October by J.S Ross, Officer Commanding, Western Command, and Lt. Col. A. Macdonald, Commanding Officer, LER Edmonton, and the Officer commanding A Company was Captain Bernie Ackerman.

According to ‘The Fortyniner September 2012 issue, The Journal of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, the newly constructed building cost was $85,000 and had a 120-foot by 36- foot drill hall, offices on the second floor, supply room, rifle range and lecture rooms in the basement; and it set the standard for all armories in the Canadian Army. In 1959 the Loyal Edmonton Regiment formed the Vermilion Army Cadet Corps and they have always had a close and beneficial relationship.

The Town of Vermilion purchased the Armouries from the Department of National Defense for $1 in 1968 and used the location to house the offices of the Town’s recreation department and for the Boy Scouts, Army Cadets as well as other youth groups.

In 1989 the life of the building was under threat as the Town of Vermilion proposed a railway underpass running through where the building was located, meaning the building would have been demolished. With the strong voice of MLA Steve West, the building was saved.

In 1992 the Field Marshall Alexander Branch 11 of the Royal Canadian Legion purchased the Armouries from the Town for the amount of $2 under the vision and leadership of Comrade Bernie Bowers.

On October 15, Field Marshall Alexander Branch 11 officially transferred the Lt. Col Craig Armoury to the Lt. Col. Craig Armory Historical Society.

From left, Comrade Jim Bristowe signing the Armoury over to President of the Lt. Col. W. C. Craig Armoury Society Don Henry, on October 15

After unveiling the new sign at the Armoury, those in attendance were piped in by Piper Barry Roth who played the Regimental March of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Bonnie Dundee. Once attendees and the special guests entered the building President of the Lt. Col W.C. Craig Armouries Historical Society, Don Henry emceed the event, opening with the singing of O Canada. Henry acknowledged the traditional territories of the Indigenous peoples of Treaty 6 Region and Metis settlements and Metis Nation of Alberta regions 2, 3, and 4.

Following Henry’s welcome, retired Lt. Col. Gordon Hills and Legion Chaplin performed the benediction and prayer. Henry then took to the podium to give a history of the building and recognized the long military history of Lt. Col. W.C. Craig whom the building is named after.

The Vermilion River Archery club which utilizes the space was on hand to provide a history of the club and provide a demonstration, as well as members of the Alberta Amateur Ham Radio club. Cake and beverages were also enjoyed.


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