December 2, 2023

Local Canadian Ranger Patrol celebrations commemorate 20 years of Military Reserve Status since Formation

Salute for the "Parade Dignitaries" being Sgt. Mitchell and myself standing facing Patrol Sgt. Norm Beebe.

Local Canadian Ranger Patrol celebrations commemorate 20 years of military reserve status since formation in this lengthy written story and series of photos you see accompanying today’s post. You can click on them to enlarge photos.

To help put this article and photo celebration into perspective for you, allow me to give a quick refresher first about who the Canadian Rangers are you see depicted. Here’s a portion of their official description marked in quotations and taken from the Canadian Department of National Defense website…

“The Canadian Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Forces (CF) Reserve, provide patrols and detachments for employment on national-security and public-safety missions in those sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada which can not conveniently or economically be covered by other elements or components of the CF. Formally established in 1947,the Canadian Rangers protect Canada’s sovereignty by reporting unusual activities or sightings, collecting local data of significance to the CF, and conducting surveillance or sovereignty patrols as required”.

"Order - Right Dress! "...sort of. Notice all the smiling faces as they happily comply.

Composed exclusively of  local community and regional civilian-based members, Canadian Rangers are an eclectic and often rough-and-ready looking bunch who – though trained in basic military drill and procedures – are not overly concerned about the usual military standards of impeccable dress or physical demeanor. Despite those minor deficiencies and their bright red uniforms they’re not to be underestimated for their skills though either, being known as the “hidden bush bunnies” of Canada’s forested northern domains and the “fleeting land ghosts” of Canada’s high Arctic domains.

For all of their informality they are no less an integral branch of our Canadian Forces Reserve units, spread as they are in their legion of numbers all across Canada’s northern territories and provinces. They provide a vital local expertise and knowledge base of their regions required for successful integration of operations with Regular Force military units, Police and Emergency Measures organizations.

Another highly important facet of Canadian Ranger Patrol activities is that of selected members also mentoring and leading local Junior Ranger Patrols.

Inspecting members of the green-uniformed Carcross Junior Ranger Patrol.

The green-uniformed Junior Ranger patrols are part of the national Ranger program across the north too, and consist of local and regional boys and girls between the ages of 12 to 17 similarly being mentored and led by their own senior Patrols. Upon reaching the age of 18 a Junior Ranger is automatically accepted into the adult Patrol ranks if continued service is desired by that individual – and at least two of this Patrol’s current roll are Juniors who have elected to continue such service in the adult version of it.

Ranger Instructors showing the Juniors how to skin the Buffalo head.

One of the Buffalo hides from the Junior's successful hunt being scraped.

The Carcross Junior Ranger Patrol depicted here in uniform just recently came off a highly successful field exercise in which they went buffalo hunting, their adult Ranger guides bagging three animals for them in the process. These Junior Rangers gleefully participated in that hunt by

Junior Patrol members working on a Buffalo head.

camping out in the cold and later skinning, cleaning and cutting up the massive amounts of meat contained in these animals under the direction of their Senior Ranger instructors. That meat is presently at the butcher’s being cut and wrapped for distribution, and these kids are justifiably proud of their accomplishments from this wonderful land-based learning experience for which they have been highly commended for their efforts in this instance.

Yours truly, Rgr. Ken Matthies (Ret'd) 1CRPG with Medals.

The red-uniformed Rangers you see in pictures here are members of the main 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (1CRPG) Carcross Ranger Patrol holding this celebration and with whom I was privileged to serve a fourteen year stint, for part of which service I was awarded the golden twelve-year (CDM) Canadian Defense  Medal you see on my chest along with the silver (SSM) Special Service Medal with Ranger Bar.

The photos you’re privileged to see here today are the professional work of Ranger Harry Kern, Photographer, and have been graciously provided by him as a courtesy for this retired Canadian Ranger and former Patrol member to add context and visual meaning to what is being written about this event.

A man of truly notable physical dimensions who is a long-time roofing contractor by trade and now also a professional photographer by avocation, Harry is still an active-duty Ranger of this Patrol and one of its original founding members. His outstanding camera work as the Patrol photographer over all of those years continues to provide a colorfully ongoing and living legacy of both its activities and its exploits.

Notably and understandably, due to his shy and retiring manner (not), images of Harry himself are of course missing from this montage since he kept himself firmly hidden behind the lens to record it all.

Harry’s long been famous within Patrol annals too for being the best-equipped Ranger to ever hit a wilderness trail by skidoo, traveling as he still does with a complete camp and stainless steel kitchen setup that everybody always gravitates to for the delectable odors emanating from it. His version of Military Rations never did come in a foil pack unless compelled to consume it in that form, and he could always be counted on to have brought the extra tasty food choices that made field exercises such an enjoyable experience for everyone enduring the usual -20 to -40 degree winter temperatures that usually accompanied them.

Only Harry and Kalinda Sax, a tough-as-nails Ranger gal who you see me being honored as an invited retiree of the Patrol to pin a golden (CDM) Canadian Defense Medal onto in one of these pictures, still remain as active-duty original founding members of this Patrol. Both of them have earned this Medal and are justifiably proud of the achievement this presentation represents to each of them individually and to the Patrol as a unit whole.

Justifiably Proud Rgr. Kalinda Sax, recipient of the 20 year CDM.

Kal too is worthy of more words to be written here today. A professional geologist by vocation, this gal has roamed more rugged and dangerous mountains, valleys and hidden geographic byways than most of us have ever been privileged to see on the National Geographic channel. Her tried and tested proven bush and outdoor survival skills gleaned from this experience, along with her qualifications and proficiency as a Medic, have been of invaluable service to the Patrol both in the classroom and on field exercises undertaken by this unit over those twenty years.

Given that level of experience you now understand better why I refer to her as a tough-as-nails gal…and with the demeanor and abilities she’s capable of to go along with that experience – trust me – you’re better off tangling with a live momma grizzly bear than you would be with the wrong side of her!

I say this of course based on personal experience and with tongue tucked firmly in cheek. Her and I have always been physical sparring partners (which I’ve somehow survived) over the years of our friendship, whenever we’ve connected on former exercises or reunions of any kind since my retirement.

One of the Most Dangerous moments of my life! Pinning the CDM on Rgr. Kalinda Sax.

Also sharing a congenially acerbic wit  in our relationship as buddies over those years made the pinning on of this Medal both a highly dangerous and humorous endeavor on my part. I’m happy to report that she gleefully punched me in the gut during the process and threatened me with other more arcane physical violence if I stuck the pin in her or happened to wander into forbidden territory, but that’s all part of the normal course of events and camaraderie still shared between us to this day. I wouldn’t trade that kind of love in my relationship with Ranger Kal for the world!

Visiting Sgt. Mitch Mitchell inspecting the Troops.

Kicked off by Patrol Sergeant Norm Beebe with a short parade formation, both myself and happened-to-be-visiting Sergeant Mitch Mitchell of the Dawson City Ranger Patrol also pictured here, were asked and honored to inspect and review both the senior and junior Ranger Patrols present for the occasion.

In a fashion typical of Ranger formations not overseen by more highly trained and stiffly demeanored Regular Force training personnel, the inspection was lighthearted and filled with quips and smiles as we proceeded through the ranks in the company of Sergeant Norm.

As expected Kal gave me a smiling sneer of welcome as I approached her position in the ranks, as you can see for yourself in this picture. I loved it!

Rgr. Kal's sweet sneer of anticipation at my approach..such Good Buddies we are that this reception should be just as gleefully anticipated by me! See my grin?

The inspection was followed by the presentation of two Medals to Patrol members – one of those being the golden twenty-year CDM Medal referred to earlier and presented to Ranger Kal by myself – and the other a silver (SSM) Special Service Medal with Ranger Bar presented by Sergeant Mitch to Ranger Jennifer Joe, one of the former Junior Rangers who had come up through their ranks to join the main Patrol some years previous.

Sgt. Mitch pinning the SSM on Rgr. Jennifer Joe.

As well, travel orders were presented by Mitch and I to two additional senior Patrol members chosen from the ranks by Regional Defense Headquarters, for an up and coming Sovereignty Patrol Exercise scheduled to take place soon in Canada’s Central Arctic regions.

Presentation of Orders to Rgr. Niko Helm to be part of an upcoming Sovereignty Patrol Exercise.

It was after dismissal from the ranks that the real party started though, with food and beverages for young and old(er) alike brought together by everyone for a pot-luck feast consisting of everything from Uncle Timmy’s famous donuts to salads and baked chicken, plus chips from a bag to go along with a host of other highly edible treats.

Naturally such a celebration would have been incomplete without a large cake to complement and properly mark the occasion; in this case supplied and generously baked by Sergeant Norm’s wife Lorraine and enthusiastically if somewhat inexpertly decorated by ole Sarge himself.

The delectable 20-Year Cake baked by Lorraine and so ineptly...err...'enthusiastically' decorated by the shaking hands of Sgt. Norm! A true and complete work of...Spelling-Mistake-Art?

If you take a look at the picture of it here, you’ll see why I refer to his decorative work as “inexpert” – but despite that too being happily said with tongue in cheek because I enjoy teasing him every chance I get, the work of his mechanic’s rough hands and inaccurate spelling on the cake didn’t prevent it from tasting way younger than either Norm’s decorative work or the 20 years depicted on it would indicate. It was great!

Along with the food and a whole lot of congenial visiting among everyone along with reminiscences from us older ones of the twenty years gone by, a superbly good time was had by all in this twenty year tribute and commemoration of the Patrol’s origins and inception.

Patrol standing "At Ease".

Aside from Harry forgetting his $7,000 camera there after the event in a moment of mild dementia which may not bode well for his future (I’m kidding of course), and its fortunate recovery and next-day return to Harry by Sergeant Norm who happened to spot it and naturally took it home with him for safekeeping that night, the evening’s festivities ended on all the other right notes required of it by everyone present.

Here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed my own little tribute to the guys and gals of my old Ranger Patrol that I’ve attempted to portray here. They’re a great bunch, and I’m still proud to have served among them!

That’s my story for today of local Canadian Ranger Patrol celebrations commemorate 20 years of military reserve status since formation.

Your comments as always are welcome and can be made to me in the form below…and while you’re at it, here’s a couple more random pictures of that evening for you to enjoy as well.

Rgr. Jennifer Joe proudly displaying her SSM.

The Moment of Truth...and Most Critical Danger! Don't let her smile fool you - see that nasty gleam in her eye?








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