Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/10/2010 (4223 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
From the beaches of Dieppe to the dikes of the devastating 1950 flood, the city's proud and kilted regiment has always been "ullamh" -- ready.
And on the weekend, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada -- one of four Canadian military regiments ever to have fought in kilts -- were ready to march right up to Winnipeg's front steps and bang on the door.
Hey, it's all in the name of tradition. On Saturday morning, the storied infantry reserve regiment, which is based at the Minto Armoury, continued its 100th anniversary celebrations with a formal parade that took them straight to the mayor's door.
At least Sam Katz could hear them coming. Just after 10 a.m., the wail of bagpipes and the rat-tat-tat of marching drums wafted through downtown as the regiment's cadets, members and veterans paraded from the Scots Monument on Waterfront Drive.
They finally stepped to a stop in the city hall courtyard. There, standing before the ranks of kilted members and about 35 family, friends and curious onlookers, Lt. Col. Brett Takeuchi, the regiment's commanding officer, raised his sword and thrice thumped the pommel on the door.
The ceremony followed a 350-year old tradition that sees cities grant trusted military regiments the "freedom of the city." In history, the honour allowed troops to parade freely through towns and cities, instead of remaining stationed outside their walls... with the mayor's blessing, that is.
On Saturday, they got that blessing. Katz answered Takeuchi's knock and delivered a brief address honouring the Highlanders' achievements on and off the battlefield. "We thank you for your visit," Katz declared, accepting a centennial plaque to be displayed at city hall. "Year upon year, generation upon generation, you are the pride of Winnipeg."
The regiment was raised in 1910, a nod to pressure from Scottish lobbyists. Over the years, the Highlanders notably fought in both world wars. While storming the beaches of Dieppe during the Second World War, a Highlander soldier picked up his bagpipes and played the troops to the shore. It is the last recorded incident of Canadian troops being piped into battle.
Even a century after it was formed, the regiment still binds. A 100th anniversary dinner on Saturday night was expected to draw 360 people. Only about two per cent of regiment members were unable to attend, beamed one of the centennial celebrations' main organizers -- a turnout that proves the enthusiasm for the regiment, he said.
"You'll do far more for your regiment than for the army," noted honourary Lt. Col. Bob Vandewater, quoting Napoleon Bonaparte. "Once you are a Cameron, you're a Cameron. That's it. You're family."
To celebrate the regiment's anniversary, a new book celebrating "Winnipeg's ladies from hell" is available on the regiment's website, and displays of regimental artifacts are being presented at the Millenium Library and the Manitoba Museum.
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.