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Grant Mitchell

The Hon. Grant  Mitchell, B.A., M.A., C.F.A. Senator Grant Mitchell has had careers in the public service, business and politics in Alberta. He was appointed by former Prime Minister Paul Martin in March, 2005.

Statements & Hansard

Recovery of Artillery Pieces

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Statement made on 15 November 2011 by Senator Joseph Day

Hon. Joseph A. Day:

Honourable senators, this intervention may be entitled "A Tale of Two Guns." Last week an important dedication ceremony took place with respect to a six-inch gun — sometimes referred to as an artillery piece — recovered from Partridge Island, an island that guards the harbour of Saint John, New Brunswick.

The gun itself began its life as part of a 16-gun cruiser, HMCS Niobe, as part of the fleet Britain sent to fight in the Boer War in 1897. The HMCS Niobe served in Her Majesty's Navy until she was donated to the fledgling Royal Canadian Navy in 1910, where she was in active service until the Halifax explosion of 1917. Damaged at that time, the ship was scrapped, but the guns were sent to fortifications throughout Canada, two of which were installed at Partridge Island. Here the guns served the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, or the Loyal Company, until the guns were retired in 1947.

The commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Stachan, stated during the dedication ceremony that artillery units do not have flags like most infantry units, only their guns. Hence, leaving these guns on the abandoned post did not seem right. It is appropriate that these guns were sent to the units where they so proudly served.

It is for that reason that the two guns were the target of a major excavation effort on Partridge Island in 1981. When they were decommissioned in 1941, the guns had been buried, allegedly to preserve them, but they were forgotten. They were rediscovered during historical research conducted on the island, at which point the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment members were sent to recover the guns.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the Canadian Forces and the generous contribution of Honorary Colonel John Irving, one of these guns is now proudly deployed at the Barrack Green Armoury in the city of Saint John as a monument to all those who bravely manned it in defence of Canada. The other is at the Royal Canadian Navy reserve unit in Saint John, HMCS Brunswicker.

As our Canadian Forces rapidly evolve to take on the challenges of the new century, it is important that we take time to reflect on our country's history as well. Brigadier-General Christopher Thurrott, Commander of Land Forces Atlantic Area, alluded to this during the dedication ceremony when he stated that we must appreciate and celebrate our past as we prepare for our future.

I trust, honourable senators, that all of us here in this place are in full agreement with him.

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