More than 200 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment visit Peterboroug.
It was quite the sight as a convoy of massive green army trucks and towering eight-wheeled light infantry vehicles rolled along the city streets with downtown traffic on Tuesday afternoon.
Heads turned and some stopped in their tracks at the shear and unusual sight of the military presence in Peterborough.
A large crowd gathered in the parking lot of the historic Peterborough Armoury to welcome the more than 200 soldiers with the 1st Battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
More than 35 vehicles in all, filed their into town as part of a 2,300 kilometre, six-day road exercise, that saw members of the regiment not only training here in the city but also interacting with the public.
“This is the second day of our exercise called Lacplesis Pursuit,” said public affairs officer Patricia Brunelle. “It’s a 2,300-kilometre road move across Ontario. We left Petawawa Monday and drove all the way to Sudbury and stopped here in Peterborough today for our second day.”
The six-day exercise will see the 1st Battalion travel to Kingston on Wednesday, before traveling up the 401 to Toronto and ending its training session in Meaford. The aim is to give soldiers experience traveling down long stretches of road but also give them the chance to operate their vehicles in high population areas.
Come July the regiment will be deployed to Latvia as part of a Canada-led NATO mission where they will join other allied nations to help fight off the Russian advancement in the Baltic states.
Cpt. Rob Graydon felt right at home in Peterborough, he was born here but raised in Belleville and still has family that lives here. His grandmother Beatrice was onsite to greet the convoy as it arrived and was given a tour by her grandson.
“I’m very proud to be here today,” said Cpt. Graydon. “Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. On my dad’s side my grandfather was a company commander for the Hasty P’s (Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment) which is the armoury where we’re at tonight and on my mother’s side my grandfather was a navigator in the Lancaster bombers.”
This is a training mission but it’s also an attempt to raise the profile of the military in regions that aren’t used to seeing its presence said Cpt. Graydon, as the public was able to interact with the soldiers and get an up close and personal look at what they do.
“This is an invaluable opportunity for us to do some outreach, “he said. “And especially for us, living in Petawawa it’s more or less isolated from a lot of the major population centres and so this is a great opportunity to get out and hit places like Peterborough, Kingston, and London before going home.”
The 1st Battalion will leave for Latvia in early July and remain in the area for six months as part of Operation Reassurance.