PORT AUX BASQUES – This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Canadian Rangers. Since the organization's beginning in May 1947, the Canadian Rangers have contributed to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in numerous ways including ground search and rescues, training members of the CAF, and various domestic operations. To honour the milestone, the Canadian Army is recognizing 2022 as “The Year of the Canadian Rangers", which will highlight contributions made by the Canadian Rangers both to the CAF and across the country. There are currently about 5,000 active Canadian Rangers serving in 220 communities, and they are all being recognized not only at a local level, but at regional and national levels as well. In Port Aux Basques, an open house was held by the Canadian Rangers from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 27 at the Bruce II Sports Centre with the goal of showing the community exactly what the group does. Master Corporal Randy Osmond, who has served with the group for 16 years, said the Rangers provide military presence in law-ruled communities where the military doesn’t have a presence. “There’s 34 patrols in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our area of responsibility is from LaPoile all the way to Crabbes River.” That particular ranger patrol, called Channel Patrol, currently has 31 members. Many youth attended the event, something Sergeant Krista Brake said they hoped for. Brake has been with the Rangers for the last six years. “We let the schools know so that they could bring the kids up if they wanted to, just to go see what we are doing, because a lot of them have never seen us out either.” Osmond shared that the following day, May 28, the Rangers had something else planned. “We are leaving at 0900 tomorrow morning, and we are going to the South Branch area and we’re going to do some survival training. We are actually going to be building leanto's and we’re going to stay in them that night. We’ve got a lot of rain coming, but if it’s not raining, we’re not training. That’s how it goes in the military." Brake said the Rangers do their training in the area three times a year. “We do one weekend of shooting. We will go out with our rifles to the range and practice up on that. One weekend in the winter we do on our snowmobiles and, depending on where it is, we might be doing search and rescue practice or first aid practice. And then we do one this time of the year – again depending on the weather – and this time we’re doing survival training. So we are doing something different every time, trying to practice up.” Applications for the Rangers can be emailed out to individuals who might be interested in joining. “You have to fill it out. There’s a bit of paperwork involved, and so we would keep your applications then and as people are retiring or stepping down. We can only have 32 at a time. That’s our max. We would go through the applications and try to pick the best ones out and keep bringing new ones in.” Osmond said there are a few requirements for anybody wishing to join the Rangers. “You can’t have a criminal record and things like that. You have to be 18 years of age. We never get anybody aged 18 or 19 anymore because most kids get out of school and disappear. So we are kind of top-heavy. If you take all of our Canadian Rangers, add all their ages together and divide it by the number of them, you’ll get around 55 or 56 years of age.” Being in the Rangers for as many years as they have, Osmond and Brake both have moments that stand out in their minds as enjoyable, but the overall appeal seems to be the camaraderie. “I just got back yesterday. I was up in British Columbia for the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Rangers. So there was 100 of us from all over Canada. We all got together and did training. There was a parade and a ceremony. It was a lot of fun,” said Brake. “I enjoy the exercises that we do with other patrols because you actually get to see how they do things, and they see how we do things, and you get to meet a lot more rangers. There’s over 1,000 Canadian Rangers in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, so you get to meet a lot of new people and I enjoy that," said Osmond.
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, with files from René J. Roy, Wreckhouse Weekly News