ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S.- Cadets of all ages and ranks marched through the streets of Annapolis Royal on Aug. 5 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.
Sea, Air and Army Cadets from all over Canada and the United Kingdom are stationed at HMCS Acadia in Cornwallis for the summer as they practise the skills they’ve learned throughout the year in their local Cadet units.
To celebrate the Sea Cadet centennial, cadets marched through the streets of Annapolis Royal in a parade, then exercised the Freedom of the Town.
HMCS Acadia Cadets were granted the Freedom of the Town in 2004. The Freedom of the Town is a historic tradition signifying a town’s trust in a military unit, organization or dignitary and serves as a welcome to visit the town at leisure.
Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald inspected the Cadet parade and welcomed them into town.
“HMCS Acadia were granted Freedom of the Town confirming their right to enter and march in the Town of Annapolis Royal at all times, with colors flying, drums beating and bayonets fixed,” he said during the ceremony. “And whereas, Freedom of the Town was granted in recognition of the highest steam in which all ranks of HMCS Acadia are held.”
The Cadets then marched to the national historic site of Fort Anne to perform the historic Ceremony of the Flags.
“This is a ceremony that is steeped in tradition from a time when British troops were garrisoned in colonial towns and charged with maintaining order,” said Lieutenant Benjamin Turner, the unit public affairs representative of HMCS Acadia. “Every night they would signal curfew with a display of strength and authority that would become the ceremony of the flags.”
Cadets in the Drill Ceremony Instructor Course prepared for the Ceremony of the Flags by marching with field guns and practising drill courses.
Emily Tucker is in the DCI course. She’s from Blacks Harbour, N.B. and she’s proud of herself for everything she’s learned while at Cornwallis and for taking part in the ceremony.
“I’m very proud to be in Cadets. Without Cadets I don’t think I’d be the person I am today,” she said.
Tucker helped fire blank rounds from a Lee Enfield rifle during the ceremony.
“Basically, when the snare drum goes off we fire,” she added.
Brandy Ross is from Cornwallis and this is her second year in Cadets. She plans to continue enrolling in Cadets for years to come.
“Leadership is a big part of Cadets because as you advance to higher ranks, you get more responsibilities,” she said. “It gives you something to look forward to, so you want to keep enrolling every year.”
Ross and her unit were busy preparing for the ceremony by practising marching, using field guns and doing uniform prep.
“The people are amazing, the food is great and the training is really rewarding. The whole time you’re at Cornwallis you’re busy doing something,” she said.
Austin Hiscock joined Cadets three years ago in the hopes of making some new friends. Not only did he make friends, he picked up some valuable life skills along the way.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I joined but I’m glad I did,” he said.
Hiscock is in the six-week intermediate band program at HMCS Acadia in Cornwallis. Before joining Cadets he wasn’t interested in playing music but after picking up a pair of drum sticks, it didn’t take long for him to change his mind.
“I’m practising, basically always, it’s a lot of fun.”
The band spent a lot of time practising the 1812 Overture in preparation for the ceremony.
Following the Ceremony of the Flags, the Cadet band performed the 1812 Overture accompanied by naval field gun fire.
The song was inspired by Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia in the winter of 1812.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil attended the ceremony and congratulated Cadets for all of their hard work.
“Most of us, when we thought about going to summer camp, we applied a couple weeks before. But all of us know, that you have to work all year long to be invited to this camp,” said McNeil at the ceremony.
He acknowledged the dedication of what these youths do year-round in their own communities, preparing for their opportunity to come to Cornwallis.
“We have before us, 500 or so of those young men and women, who week after week have gone into community halls in their respected communities, dedicated to teamwork, determination and hard work, and committed to the Sea Cadet program,” he said.
Premier McNeil thanked the Cadets for putting on the event and congratulated them for everything they have accomplished.
“The first Cadets 100 years ago would be proud to have you in their midst. We are proud.”