A Spruce Meadows Weekend for the Ages
Major John Cochrane
As it always does the Spruce Meadows North American Championship was conducted on the second weekend of July. This year it was from the 7th to the 10th and was one of the most spectacular in its history.
For the Strathcona’s Prince of Wales Squadron (Recce) it began with a mad dash from the Royal Departure Ceremony for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Spruce Meadows to ensure that a full rehearsal could be conducted in advance of the Saturday Feu de Joie. Although the Regiment has performed this event countless times in the past it is important to note that this year’s program required some adjustments to insure that proper respects were paid to some significant VIPs that were going to be in attendance on at the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on 9 July. Following a couple of quick rehearsals with some minor adjustments everything was set for the Saturday performance.
The Saturday saw a large number of VIPs in attendance including: Commander 1 CMBG, Commander LFWA, the Associate Minister of Defence the Honourable Julian Fantino, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper the Prime Minister of Canada, and His Excellency David Johnson the Governor General of Canada. This was the first time in history that the Prime Minister and the Governor General were both in attendance at Spruce Meadows on the same day.
Before the ceremony started the Associate Minister of Defence made short a trip over to the ATCO Family Day and made some extremely flattering remarks to all military personnel. He was articulate and truly appreciative of all in the room. Shortly after he departed the Governor General and his wife, Her Excellency Sharon Johnson, made a brief stop at the ATCO Family Day to meet some of the military families in attendance. It was an exceptional experience for all who had the opportunity to meet them; they were extremely down to earth and immediately put everyone at ease.
The Feu de Joie Ceremony included a couple of additional elements give the stature of some of the VIPs. There was an additional General Salute to the Prime Minister of Canada, and an inspection of the Guard conducted by the Governor General. The Prince of Wales Squadron performed exceptionally well and represented the Regiment with great distinction on Saturday and Sunday.
The Regiment also had the great pleasure of meeting a young man by the name of Ronan Court; he is the son of Kurby Court a long time friend of the Regiment who is a member of the Spruce Meadows team. Ronan recently had his 7th birthday party and decided that rather than ask for any presents from his friends he asked them to bring some money so he could make a donation to the Strathcona Family Support Fund. He presented the funds to LCol Cadieu and requested that the funds go towards a Pizza Party for those kids whose parents were away overseas. Ronan - your selflessness is an inspiration to us all.
As it always is, the North American weekend at Spruce Meadows was outstanding. The Feu de Joie, the static vehicle displays, the Museum and Sir Sam Steele (thanks to Josh and Jeff from the University of Alberta) were all extremely well attended and a pleasure to be a part of.