RHLI Exercises
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National Defence and the Canadian Forces

Joint Task Force Central & Land Force Central Area

31 Canadian Brigade Group

RHLI Receive Freedom of the City of Burlington

Capt Tim Fletcher, Unit Information Officer, RHLI

In December of 1862, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) came officially into being, known then as the 13th Battalion, in Hamilton, Ontario . Fast forward to 2003, and the RHLI has been given approval to create a new company in the adjoining city of Burlington, ON as part of Land Force Reserve Restructuring. Zip the tape ahead a bit more and on September 18th, 2005, with ?C? Coy now active in Burlington, the RHLI - part of 31 Canadian Brigade Group - has been granted the Freedom of the City of Burlington . It's the third Freedom of the City for the RHLI (Hamilton, 1962, Stoney Creek, 1987) and the first time the City of Burlington has granted such an honour to any person or organization.

?We're pleased as a municipality to grant this historic privilege to the RHLI?, said Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac at a gala dinner/dance on September 17th marking the event the night before the parade. Mayor MacIsaac noted, ?The Rileys established an official presence here in the fall of 2003 as part of the federal government's decision to expand the army reserves, and since then they've really integrated themselves into the community. Economically, they have provided a good number of unique and well-paying part-time jobs to many of our young people plus significant infrastructure investment. The Freedom of the City recognizes the Riley's service to Canada and their commitment to Burlington.?

The mayor's comments were echoed by Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Smith, commanding officer of the RHLI. LCol Smith said, ?This is an honour for the RHLI. We appreciate the respect shown to the unit by the people of Burlington .? He added, the Rileys are now well-established in the city. ???C' Company in Burlington ? now has its own quarters at 3230 Fairview Street at the rear of the former Canadian Tire store. When people join the RHLI in Burlington , they can serve in their own community. There are also wider opportunities ? for example, we have Burlington soldiers who are just back from service in Afghanistan.?

Guest of honour for the dinner and parade was Lieutenant-General (Ret'd) Charles Belzile, former commander of the Army. At the start of his career, LGen Belzile commanded former Rileys in Korea after the ceasefire. He took time before the dinner to visit the City of Hamilton 's Dieppe Veterans Memorial Park, the RHLI Museum and the Officer's Mess. In his capacity of Grand President of the Royal Canadian Legion, he was reviewing officer for the Legion Day parade in Burlington the morning of the 18th. He was then special guest on the reviewing platform for the Freedom of the City parade in the afternoon.

Halton Regional Police Chief Ean Algar halts the RHLI as they march to Burlington City Hall.

The parade, which was viewed by hundreds of Burlington residents who have become very familiar with the RHLI as a result of local training activities and extensive media coverage, was a resounding success. It went off in time-honoured tradition, approaching City Hall with colours cased, bayonets unfixed and band silent. Halton Regional Police Chief Constable Ean Algar halted the regiment, then, after determining its intent was peaceful, Chief Algar escorted LCol Smith to the City Hall doors, which stood in for the gates to the city. After his official greeting by Mayor MacIsaac, several councillors, the deputy City Clerk, and LCol Smith returned to the Regiment and escorted Mayor MacIsaac and LGen Belzile as they inspected the immaculate soldiers and cadets, along with the band.

Halton Regional Police Chief Ean Algar receives a salute from RHLI CO LCol Guy Smith as proof of the Regiment's peaceful intent in the city. The salute itself is a sign of peace and respect derived from a very ancient custom of showing a bared hand beside one's head to prove it held no weapon.

LCol Guy Smith, CO RHLI, announces his presence at City Hall with firm knocks from the pommel of his sword in accordance with ancient tradition.

For details on the traditional granting of The Freedom of the City,
along with the background on the ceremony,
click here to visit within the RHLI History.

Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac, left, greets RHLI CO LCol Guy Smith, who was escorted to City Hall doors by Halton Regional Police Chief Ean Algar. Observing is Major Stu Chapman, 2379 Cadet Corp, AdeC to Mayor MacIsaac for the ceremony.

Mayor MacIsaac took a moment to speak with a member of #1 Guard during the inspection.

Band Member Cpl Sandra Rickert shares a few words with Mayor MacIsaac during the inspection of our Band.

Mayor macIsaac shares a few words with Pte Sandra Mimranek.

Visit inspections and photos of the 62 (RHLI) RCACC Cadets
and 2379 (Burlington) RCACC Cadets
who joined the RHLI during the Freedom of the City.

The inspection proved satisfactory to all, leading to the Mayor's return to the podium and the declaration of the Freedom of the City. Honorary Colonel Jim Forsyth then read out a special message of congratulations from His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, followed by a short address from LCol Smith. Then, as tradition dictated, the Regiment fixed bayonets, presented arms as the Colours were uncased, and struck up the band.

RHLI Honorary Colonel Jim Forsyth read the letter received from HRH The Prince Philip, Colonel-in-Chief of the RHLI, from Buckingham Palace, congratulating the Regiment on the Freedom of the City. A copy of the letter has been given to the City of Burlington to hang with a reproduction of the Freedom of the City scroll at City Hall. Click to view the letter from His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment.

Mayor Rob MacIsaac of Burlington reads the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry's Freedom of the City scroll being held by Major Stu Chapman, 2379 Cadet Corps. The scroll was designed by noted military calligraphist Captain Mihail Murgoci.

RHLI Commanding Officer LCol Guy Smith expressed the Regiment's thanks to the City of Burlington for the Freedom of the City following Mayor MacIsaac's remarks. Observing are Deputy City Clerk John Bolognone , behind the CO, along with Halton Region Chief of Police Ian Algar and Burlington Fire Chief Steve Thurlow, who were also special guests at the gala dinner the night before.

The RHLI Colour Party, in traditional "scarlets", unfurls the Colours after being granted the Freedom of the City of Burlington, and with that the right to march with "drums beating, flags flying and bayonets fixed". The colours were carried by Lt Cole Heffren (Queen's Colour) and 2Lt Jordan Spoelstra (Regimental Colour). The guard was completed by Sgt Peter Fairchild (centre), Sgt Sean Fletcher (Regimental Guard), and Sgt Chris Brook (Queen's Guard). Uncasing the colours are Cpl Brent Connelly (Queen's) and Cpl Brad Hilmer (Regimental).

The parade then marched off, counter-marching to gain maneuvering room then marching past the saluting base and rendering honours to Mayor MacIsaac.

This restored Jeep, with owner/driver Sander Szoke, transported the Reviewing Stand party to the reception, with LGen Belzile in the front seat, and Mayor MacIsaac in the rear with HCol Jim Forsth.

The RHLI Military Band has an international reputation. They were very well received during the Freedom of the City parade as they finally struck up the music during the inspection and after the granting of the Freedom of the City.

#1 guard under Major Gary McQueen, centre, with RSM CWO Kombo Hassan in his parade position, left, salute Mayor Rob MacIsaac on the Reviewing Stand in front of City Hall.

The Colour Party with "flags flying" accompanied by the Regiment with "bayonets fixed" and the band with "drums beating", marches past Burlington City Hall after receiving the freedom of the city.

#2 Guard salutes Mayor MacIsaac on the reviewing stand, under command of Major Dan Stepaniuk.

It was certainly the largest military parade Burlington has seen by the time OCdt Amanda Miller, left, Capt Ken O'Breza, Deputy Commanding Officer of 2379 Cadet Corps, and Major Sean McKee, Deputy Commanding Officer of the RHLI reached City Hall.

LCol Smith receives a salute from CWO Kombo Hassan, RHLI RSM, as he turns the parade over after arriving in Spencer Smith Park after the Freedom ceremony.

The large regimental family gathered in a tented pavilion in Spencer Smith Park following the parade for a reception. Hundreds were on hand including soldiers and cadets, their families, veterans, VIPs and other invited guests.


The RHLI with our band and two affiliated cadet corps prepare to dismiss after the officers have marched off.
The Regiment on parade provided an impressive and well-received sight for the hundreds of Burlingtonians
on hand for the Freedom of the City


A tented reception following the parade saw many soldier's families on hand for refreshments, as well as members of the extended regimental family, veterans and invited guests at Spencer Smith park on the Burlington waterfront.

The RHLI are currently in an interim facility in Burlington (see ?C? Company page) but are working towards a permanent company-sized facility, potentially in conjunction with the Burlington Fire Department and/or Halton Regional Police.

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