Before it became home to Edmonton Garrison, the lively city of Edmonton was a centre for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for close to one hundred years. To commemorate the intertwined history of the city and the Air Force, Edmonton has declared Sept. 14 to 20 as RCAF Week.
In a press release the RCAF Commemorative Society President Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Bill Buckham stated: “For most of the past 100 years, Edmonton's name has been synonymous with the Air Force. But people who have moved to the area in the past two decades may not know that.”
And Military and Protocol Liaison for the City of Edmonton, Kaetlyn Corbould, doesn’t disagree with this statement.
“The city of Edmonton has a really long storied military history. It’s synonymous with the air force and army,” said Corbould.
The recognition of the RCAF this week is especially significant because this week marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Blatchford Field became a training station for the RCAF during the Second World War. The airfield remained an integral part of the RCAF until budget cuts forced the Air Force to move from Edmonton in 1994.
However, the Air Force left its mark in the city and remnants of its past, including the two runways close to CFB Edmonton.
RCAF Week was officially proclaimed by Edmonton City Councilor Bev Esslinger on Monday to commence the celebrations. There are various events planned throughout the week to honour the RCAF. The Battle of Britain Exhibit is open all week to the public, and The High Level Bridge will light up with the colours of the RCAF.
The festivities of the week will culminate on the weekend with Saturday, Sept. 19 as an action packed day with cockpit admissions into F-86 Sabre and CF 104 Starfighter. Also on Saturday 200 cadets will put on a parade in Honour of Battle of Britain.
The city’s recognition of the RCAF will be highlighted with the unveiling of a ten-meter stainless steel monument in the village of Griesbach on Sunday along with eight streets taking their names from local heroes and aviators. Three of the aviators being honoured will be present at the ceremony. The monument will feature storyboards recognizing the eight heroes and the history of the RCAF in Edmonton.
Weather permitting the ceremony will include C-130 Hercules, Griffon Helicopters and CF-18 flying overhead.
Standard admissions apply to many events.
The events have been organized in collaboration with the Edmonton Salutes Committee, established after the military moved back to Edmonton in 1997. The Committee recognizes and supports military members and their families.
“The city of Edmonton is particularly honoured to be involved with the military here in our capital region. The organizers are happy with what they’ve been able to organize and the city has been able to help with. They’ve pulled off a pretty successful week and kudos to the organizing committee,” said Corbould.
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