The 100th Anniversary of the raising of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) Regiment was August 10. At home in Edmonton, where the regiment was founded, several celebrations recently took place with all activities being open to the entire Patricia family, including past and serving soldiers as well as their families.
“From August 7 to10 our Edmonton Commemoration events unfolded as we had planned,” said Major Manny Mandahar, Director of the anniversary celebrations. “The Centennial Parade was a great success with over 8,000 people in attendance. After the parade a black tie dinner was held at the Northlands Expo Centre here in Edmonton, and I heard nothing but accolades from the 2,300 people who dined with us. Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Colonel in Chief of the PPCLI was among the honoured guests. I heard her say it was the best dinner she had ever attended.”
At the Edmonton Commemoration closing ceremonies on August 10 the Memorial Baton Relay began when the Baton was passed from the oldest serving member to the youngest soldier in the Regiment. The relay will link a triad of of Edmonton, Ottawa and Frezenburg, Belgium activities during the PPCLI 100th Anniversary period. At the centre of the relay is the Memorial Baton, a device that carries the full Honour Roll of the Regiment inside it. A team of serving soldiers will run the Baton from Edmonton to Ottawa, linking the two 100th Anniversary Commemorations. A mobile museum display will accompany the team and stops will be made along the way to allow the public to connect with the Regiment. As well, where possible the relay will visit the graves of former Patricias along the route.
The Memorial Baton will arrive at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on September 18 for the dedication of an updated Regimental Memorial. On September 19, on Parliament Hill a Sunset Ceremony will take place. During the Parade of Rededication on September 20 the Baton will be carried in the parade and will be held aloft in the hands of a descendant of the Originals, a soldier, a PPCLI Association member and the Prime Minister when the Regiment speaks the passage of rededication to the service of Canada.
“The Ottawa Regimental Dinner following the parade has a limited seating capacity of 600. Guests are encouraged to reserve their seats early,” said Mandahar. Finally, to complete the Ottawa Commemoration, the Army Run will take place on September 21 followed by a closing luncheon. The Baton will then be part of the Frezenberg Memorial in Belgium on May 8, 2015 when the Regiment formally remembers the battle that cost the PPCLI Originals many soldiers.
The idea of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment was developed by two men in 1914 on the eve of war. Andrew Hamilton Gault of Montreal came up with the idea, the money and the political clout to give it wings. Lt. Col Francis Farquhar an officer of the Coldstream Guards and Military Secretary to the Governor General took that idea and quickly assembled and trained a battalion ready for war. The Patricia’s were assembled and trained separately from the rest of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, recruiting largely British born Canadians who had previous military service. Through the course of the war this very British regiment was reshaped to become a Canadian military icon. By the end of the war, the Princess Pat’s, as they were affectionately known, became one of the best known and most celebrated of all Canadian Regiments.
Please visit http://www.ppcli.com for detailed timings and descriptions of 100th Anniversary Celebrations and maps to celebration locations.