Battalion Park

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Battalion Park
Battalion-Park-Szmurlo.jpg
Established 3 November 1991
Location Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Signal Hill
Type geoglyphs

Battalion Park is a geoglyph site in south west Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is located on Signal Hill, overlooking the Sarcee Nation, as well as lands formerly known as Camp Sarcee and later Sarcee Training Area, a military reserve used by the Canadian Forces from before the First World War up until the 1990s. The park extends over an area of 93 hectares (230 acres), north of the Elbow River. Its heritage value is associated with its dedication to the heroic efforts of Albertan soldiers during World War I. The site contains four geoglyphs, numbered 137, 113, 151, and 51. The large, whitewashed stones, totaling 16,000 in all, form the centrepiece of the park. Arranged on the side of the hill, and visible from various parts of the city, they represent the battalions numbered 137, 113, 151, and 51.

Geography[edit]

The 93 hectares (230 acres) park on Signal Hill overlooks the Sarcee Nation.[1] It is situated to the north of the Elbow River, beside the Westhills shopping complex,[2] on the city's western outskirts.[3]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The Sarcee Indian Reserve leased a part of their land in the summer of 1914 to the Canadian militia to enable them to establish a prospective training site for military personnel. It was then known as Sarcee Camp (as it overlooks the Sarcee Nation), as it was an exclusive area in Alberta to provide training to the soldiers who were to be assigned to fight during World War I. The military reserve was used by the Canadian Forces from before World War I up until the 1990s.[1] In all, 45,000 men were trained at the military camp. With this strength, the camp was the largest military training establishment in Canada during the war time. The 30 various units, housed in tents, included trainees drawn from various parts of the province. From Fort Calgary, it took a day's ride to approach the camp.

Army engineers mapped the area. Each unit established its identity within its prescribed area by using stones that were hauled in sacks by hand from the river by soldiers as part of their training programme, over a distance of 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) during off-duty hours. Several military units collaborated in collecting the stones to create the battalion numerals. They were gathered from the river and carried it to the site as part of the training exercies.[4] Among those who did so were the four battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Members of the Calgary, Lethbridge, Central Alberta, and Edmonton battalions) who were trained in the area.

51st Battalion, Sarcee Army Camp in 1915

After their training was over, the battalions were assigned to war regions abroad to fight in World War I. The 151st (central Alberta) Battalion, raised in the Red deer, Battle River, and south Edmonton districts, trained at the Sarcee Camp from December 22, 1915 until October 4, 1916; Lieutenant Colonel J.W. Arnott commanded.[5] The 137th Infantry Battalion, which was composed of the men of "Calgary's Own", were trained in the Sarcee Camp from December 1915 to August 1916; they were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George W. Morfitt. On August 21, 1916, they embarked to Europe to participate in the war. They were amalgamated with the 21st Reserve Battalion for service. Those men who survived the war met at the park, till 1960s, to carry out weeding operations and also to re-paint the stones of their battalion number which they had erected in the past.[6] The 113th Battalion consisted of 883 men and officers who were trained at the Sarcee Camp from late May 1916 until September. The battalion used painted rocks to construct their battalion number on Signal Hill. The 51st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, under the command of Colonel Harwood, was also at the Sarcee Army Camp, in 1915.[7]

Later history[edit]

With the battalions gone, the numbers were almost forgotten, overgrown by shrubs and grass. The stones were almost obscured till a local historian found them; he found the stones prior to grading as part of a protection strategy for the hill which was subject to erosion, and to enable construction activity in the area.[1] Getting the site its present historical status involved concerted efforts by the cadets of units, particularly of the 157th Battalion, stationed in Calgary; this effort stretched to several years of pursuing with the authorities. The stones were safely kept by Stewart Green Properties Ltd until they were restored.[1] Development involved work on a gravel pit by Richmond Road, slope grading, rock replacement, and stairs construction.[8] Battalion Park officially opened on 3 November 1991.[1][1][9]

The 51st Battalion is commemorated in an existing reserve unit, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. The 137th Battalion is maintained as another reserve unit, the King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC). The 151st Battalion was disbanded after the war, in 1936, and the 113th Battalion of the Lethbridge Highlanders was merged with other units on their return to England.[10]

Features[edit]

The glyphs, which form the centre piece of the park, are large whitewashed stones (16,000 of them), arranged on the side of the hill and represent the battalions numbers 137, 113, 151, and 51.[1] The numbers, serif-type numerals, were created using 16,000 stones.[1] While the numerals 137, 151, and 51 are in a cluster, the glyph representing number “113” is further away in an undisturbed state as made in-situ initially from July 1, 1916 to August 31, 1916, but located within the park.[4][11] Number "113" is at its original location, on a high ridge, while the others had to be shifted from their original location to the present site because of the need to develop the area for roads and other economic activities. The glyph with number "113" is located on 0.265 hectares (0.65 acre) area of land on a high ridge, and each numeral of "113" measures 36.5 metres (120 ft) in length and 1.8–3.7 metres (5 ft 11 in–12 ft 2 in) in width.[4] The number is made up of white-painted stones.[12] The park consists of a walkway up the hill along paved and mud paths with several interpretative displays of the numerals and a “lookout landing”.

Commemoration[edit]

In a homage paid by 104 cadets who gathered at the Battalion Park Monument, a plaque was erected as dedication to their ancestors who were part of the action during 1915 and 1916 in the World War I. The names of the battalions are mentioned on the plaque. On this occasion they also painted the stones which mark the numbers of the battalions. The units involved in its assembly, mentioned on the plaque, are: 85 RCSCC Calgary, 604 Moose Sqdn RCAC, 22 Undaunted RGSCC, 781 Calgary Sqdn, RCAC 1292 LdSH (RC), RCACC 2554, PPCLI CC 1955, Service Bn RCACC, Buffalo Sqdn 538, RCAC 2509, Royal Cdn Signals, CC 2137 Calgary Highlanders, and CC 52 City of Calgary Sqdn RCCA.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Batallion Park". City of Calgary. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Dixon, Joan; Howard, Barb (4 September 2012). Embedded on the Home Front: Where Military and Civilian Lives Converge. Heritage House Publishing Co. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-1-927051-58-0. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Bagley, Fred; Duncan, Harvey Daniel (1993). A legacy of courage: "Calgary's own" 137th Overseas Battalion, C.E.F.. Plug Street Books. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-9697162-0-4. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Battalion Numbers". Historicplaces.ca/Parks Canada. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "About Calgary Calgary's Battalion Park, The 151st Infantry Battalion. C.E.F". Aboutcalgary.ab.ca. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Calgary's Battalion Park The 137th Infantry Battalion. C.E.F". Aboutcalgary.ab.ca. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Glenbow archives NC-6-1407". Glenbow Museum. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Sandalack, Beverly Ann; Nicolai, Andrei (21 September 2006). The Calgary project: urban form/urban life. University of Calgary Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-55238-217-2. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Battalion Park". Calgaryplus.ca. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "View Trackable Log". Geocaching.com. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Battalion Park — Signal Hill — Calgary, Alberta". Waymarking.com. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group, "The Matrix Project", 113th Battalion". Great War Research Company. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "About Calgary Calgary's Battalion Park Monument". Aboutcalgary.ab.ca. 5–11 November 2001. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°01′13″N 114°10′17″W / 51.02028°N 114.17139°W / 51.02028; -114.17139 (Battalion Park)