Sgt. Dan Burkowsky from Chilliwack talks to visiting officers from Aldergrove’s 192 Construction Engineering Flight (CEF) following a ceremony at Chilliwack’s All Sappers’ Memorial Park on Monday, May 30. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

Sgt. Dan Burkowsky from Chilliwack talks to visiting officers from Aldergrove’s 192 Construction Engineering Flight (CEF) following a ceremony at Chilliwack’s All Sappers’ Memorial Park on Monday, May 30. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

History and safety served with new railing at Chilliwack’s All Sappers’ Memorial Park

Metal railing and an aluminum crest on a concrete dais both honour military engineering history

A new addition to Chilliwack’s All Sappers’ Memorial Park pays tribute to Canadian Military Engineers, while also serving a practical purpose.

A concrete dais is where speakers and honoured guests stand during Remembrance Day and other ceremonies at the corner of Vedder Road and Keith Wilson Road. Even though the platform is only a foot or so off the ground, people perched at the edges have run the risk of falling off and potentially hurting themselves.

That hazard is now addressed with a newly installed metal railing.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Krista Smith, president of Chilliwack’s Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 280, following an official ceremony Monday (May 30) “Over the years we’ve had different dignitaries and certainly our veterans who come up and make speeches, and it was concerning for sure.”

And if you’re going to install a railing, why not make it special? That’s what’s been done in a project led by Walter Webster, outgoing Sergeant at Arms for Branch 280.

The railing is designed to resemble the sides of Bailey bridges, portable bridges that were developed in the early 1940’s and used during the Second World War by Canadian, American and British armed forces. Bailey bridges are still in use today, and Smith called it “extremely significant” to have that design incorporated into the railing.

“This is where the Canadian engineers trained with Bailey bridges during wartime, and Canadian engineers are well known all over the world,” Smith said. “Through conflicts we’ve had, through peacetime, they have a great reputation and this was their training base.”

Another feature was added minutes before Monday’s ceremony.

The branch badge for the Canadian Forces Military Engineering branch was bolted to the front of the railing. It took some doing to find an original aluminum crest, which is full of symbolism. Gold leafs represent Canada’s provinces and territories. A crown represents the British queen and monarchy. Red represents war time and blue peace time. The beaver in the middle is regarded as ‘nature’s engineer,’ and the crest includes the word ‘Ubique,’ which is latin for ‘Everywhere,’ the motto of the Canadian Military Engineers.

“It’s a nod to history and also a nod to the future,” Smith said. “It’s about preserving the past but also growing, and that’s important as we move into the post-COVID years. Including that crest is a good omen for the future.”

The project was paid for by the City of Chilliwack, which has tended to All Sappers’ Memorial Park since its refurbishment in 2009.

Monday’s event was attended by high-ranking members of Aldergrove’s 192 Construction Engineering Flight (CEF), who were inspired by a memorial that was already one of Canada’s most impressive, and is now even better.

“I understand All Sappers’ Memorial Park is the second or third largest in Canada, and it is such a beautiful spot,” Smith said. “It’s tremendous that we had people from 192 CEF out to see it, and all of this is really quite amazing.

“Walter (Webster) is relocating and made sure this got done before he left, and there were so many other people involved in this project. We are all thrilled to see it happen.”

For a detailed history of All Sappers’ Memorial Park, visit cmea-agmc.ca/brief-history-all-sappers-memorial-chilliwack-bc

chilliwackRoyal Canadian Legion

 

An aluminum crest affixed to the new railing on the dais at Chilliwack’s All Sappers’ Memorial Park. The crest is the branch badge of the Canadian Military Engineers. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

An aluminum crest affixed to the new railing on the dais at Chilliwack’s All Sappers’ Memorial Park. The crest is the branch badge of the Canadian Military Engineers. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)