On May 15, 2018, Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan took part in a building dedication ceremony for the newly-built Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) School at CFB Borden. Construction on the building was finished in March 2017 and the 14,000 square metre building will provide RCEME students with state-of-the-art training facilities for years to come.
The building was named after the late Colonel Karen Ritchie, who passed away on Thanksgiving weekend in 2008 from injuries sustained in a car accident. She was the first woman to serve as a RCEME Colonel. At the time of her death, Col. Ritchie was Commander of 5 Area Support Group (now 2nd Canadian Division Support Group) in Quebec and Deputy Chair of the Committee on Women in the NATO Forces. She is remembered for her dedication, enthusiasm, professionalism and valuable contributions to the CAF.
In addition to achieving a senior rank within the military, she dedicated her spare time to the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC). Even when she was deployed overseas to places like Bosnia and the Arabian Gulf, her love and connection to Guiding remained strong. In an interview for her GGC profile she said, “I move regularly with the Army, but I can always find a Guiding community wherever I live or work. There is a sisterhood in Guiding no matter where you are in the world. Guiding is the constant in my life. Honestly, I could not imagine me, Karen Ritchie, without GGC.”
“The legacy built by Colonel Ritchie during her time in the Canadian Armed Forces is a shining example for the women and men of the engineering trades. This new training facility will further enable the RCEME School to provide a high standard of training for members of our CAF,” said Defence Minister Sajjan.
The building accommodates modern military vehicles and specialized training equipment. It also includes storage areas, administration and office spaces, classrooms and six high-bay shop spaces for training in equipment maintenance. The RCEME school will provide students with the necessary training to maintain land-based military equipment to further support CAF operations.
“As part of the ongoing modernization of Base Borden, the construction of this new facility provided a much-needed upgrade to base infrastructure while generating economic investments in the local community,” said Colonel Andrew Atherton, Commander, Canadian Forces Base Borden.
“Along with several other major infrastructure projects, this new building is moving Borden confidently into our second century of training and excellence.”
The project was valued at $81.7 million, created around 150 jobs during the construction phase and provided economic development opportunities for the region.
The RCEME Corps was founded in 1944, May 15 marks the 74th anniversary of the RCEME Corps.
As stated in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the Government of Canada is committed to granting the service men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with modern, green and functional facilities where they can work and train.