Freedom of the Town
On June 16, crowds lined Stouffville’s sunny Main Street for the Freedom of the Town community event. MPP Paul Calandra arranged to honour the Governor General’s Horse Guards, a military unit that traces its roots back to Button’s Troop formed under Captain John Buttons within our riding over 200 years ago. This year Canada commemorates the War of 1812, and this salute to the Governor General’s Horse Guard was a great tie in to our troops past and present.
Cadets from the Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron passed out Canadian Flags on sticks and yellow ribbons to pin on our shirts with Canada flag pins. Many locals wore red and white in the spirit of celebration for our flag.
Royal Canadian Air Force Cadets
The parade began with military vehicles rolling down Main St.
Governor General’s Horse Guard Band – Although still morning, the band members’ dark uniforms absorbed the hot sun for the next couple of hours performing military marches, God Save the Queen and O Canada. The full brass and reed military band provides concerts and music for regimental functions, other military events, and civilian engagements. The band includes three specialized musical sub-units: the Fanfare Trumpeters, the Brass Quintet, and the Woodwind Quintet.
Governor General’s Horse Guard Cavalry Unit – An impressive sight with sun sparkling off their helmets, the red flare of the helmet tassel (horse hair?). Horses are assigned to riders for events and from speaking to the riders after the performance I learned that they bond strongly with the horses and often have the same mount. The Cavalry Squadron provides a horse-mounted ceremonial presence at public and regimental events, to perpetuate Canadian cavalry traditions. Although it is under the command and control of the regimental commanding officer, it is privately funded by the Governor General’s Horse Guards Association.
The First and Second Guard follows the Horse Guard. I stood directly in front of where the disciplined men and women performed their various manoeuvres (left, right, march, at ease – and a lot more steps that were intricate, coordinated and intense judging by the demeanour on the guards’ faces)
Stouffville Mayor Wayne Emmerson and MPP Paul Calandra inspect the troops with the Guard’s Lieutenant-Colonel. They returned to our clock tower for speeches, welcoming and thanking the guards and recognizing the Button family for their long history in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Town Crier Marcel Bossi – You need a big voice and a sense of the dramatic to be a town crier. Mr. Bossi has both, heralding his message without a microphone to a mesmerized crowd lining the street. Even the lieutenant-general had a smile on his face while Mr. Bossi boomed his proclamation for the Freedom of the Town.
Governor General Horse Guard Colour Party with their Standard – The flag lists the Governor General’s military division battle honours.
Association of Governor General’s Horse Guard Former Members
748th Army Cadet Corps of Markham and 2402 Division of Denison Armoury
Unexpectedly, as the parade marched to Memorial Park, confetti cannons boomed on the street covering the marchers and the appreciative watchers, heightening the celebration.
At Memorial Park, the guards performed a ceremony which is essentially a release from strict obedience to form. They were a hot and thirsty group after two hours in the sun. I spoke to many of them, all gracious, all professional.
For just a moment, the words “We stand on guard for thee,” came to mind watching these young men.
Our handsome young Governor General Horse Guards. How could I resist? It was a little funny when one of them asked if they should have their guns for the photo. “Not necessary,” I said.
101-year old Blanche Cook shows her enthusiasm for life at the parade. What an inspiration.
Copyright © 2012 by Mary E. McIntyre. Reproduction of photographs and full or partial content from Camera Combo blog only with acknowledgement attributed to author Mary E. McIntyre and the following link: http://cameracombo.wordpress.com