City honours the Elgins

Freedom of the City was granted to the 31 Combat Engineer Regiment, the Elgins, by Mayor Brenda Halloran on Sept. 12.

This great honour bestowed on the Elgins celebrated the long history of the regiment and the community.

Formed in the 1860s, the 100-man contingency of the Elgins has protected and served Canadians for over 140 years.

“They have been involved in every major conflict that Canada has ever been in and they’re in Afghanistan today,” said city councillor Mark Whaley.

After being stood down in 1965, the Canadian military re-established the 48th squadron of the Elgins in Waterloo.

“The unit in Waterloo had been off the order of battle since the early 60s and was brought back in December of 2004 with a big significant move and expansion into the area,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Bertoia.

“It has been nothing but co-operation and hard work ever since,” said Bertoia.

The celebration allowed the city to acknowledge the efforts of the local squadron.

“It was our opportunity to welcome them formally to the city. Some of the members of the squadron have just come back from Afghanistan,” said Whaley.

“As a city we wanted them to know that we think of them and we care about their efforts, we appreciate it,” he continued.

Following Mayor Halloran’s granting of Freedom of the City, the regiment paraded north on King St. to Veteran’s Green, where memorial wreaths were ceremoniously laid.

The tradition dates back to British military history, when standing armies were required to obtain permission from city’s chief magistrate or lord mayor to enter the community.

“The lord mayor would entrust this freedom of the city privilege, which allowed them to march with their bayonets fixed and their weapons, their drums beating and their colours, the flags, flying,” explained Ron Ormson, acting squadron commander.

“In modern times it really represents a thank you to the Canadian services,” he added.