Mock minefields, tanks: lots of military excitement at the Calgary Stampede

Article / August 2, 2017 / Project number: 17-07-14-calgary-stampede

By Ashley Materi, 3rd Canadian Division, Public Affairs

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Calgary, Alberta —From July 7 to 16, 2017, visitors from around the world flocked to Calgary for “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” providing the perfect opportunity for CAF members to interact with the public and demonstrate the skills and equipment used by sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen.

Every year, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) sets up a static display on the grounds during the Calgary Stampede. Visitors had the chance to sit in the cockpit of a CF-18, experience the inside of a fully functional tank, explore a military ambulance, hold a variety of weapons (including a C9A2 machine gun and a M72 light anti-tank weapon) and interact with the different military members who were in charge of each display.

41 Combat Engineer Regiment (41 CER) had a mock minefield for guests to comb through with a metal detector. The soldiers demonstrated how to use the metal detector to find pieces of metal buried in the “minefield,” replicating their task of minefield clearing while on a mission.

“A lot of other countries, what they’ll do is they’ll get sneaky with their mines, and they’ll make them out of wood or plastic,” said Corporal Connor Williscroft. “The only metal in there is the fuses that explode.” He explained that once the Engineers detect metal, they get on their stomachs and prod the ground to determine what they’ve found, be it a landmine, unexploded ordnance or any other piece of metal in the ground, and they deal with it accordingly. 

The most popular display year after year is the Leopard II tank, which Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) is in charge of. Master Corporal Justin Monge, who has worked the static displays for three different years, said that while the tank gets a lot of attention, a frequent question is whether the tank is real or just a wooden display.

“I have them come up and knock on it and make sure it is exactly what I say it is,” he said with a laugh.

Sergeant Tim Cranston from the Calgary detachment of 15 Field Ambulance (Edmonton) said that while the ambulance display might not be as attention-grabbing as the tank, he is appreciative of the conversation that the static displays allow between military personnel and civilians.

“A lot of our media coverage is more about the United States, so it’s nice to get out here and talk to people because there are a lot of differences between us and how they operate down there,” Sgt Cranston said. He is grateful for the opportunity to highlight what sets Canada’s military apart from the rest of the world.

Another display that is particularly thrilling to young visitors at the Stampede is the hard-hull inflatable boat from the Navy. Chief Petty Officer, 2nd Class Rachel Dziver from Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS)Tecumseh enjoys helping children explore the boat, but she is also pleased about the opportunity to explain that yes, there is a Naval Reserve presence in landlocked Calgary.

“We’re not just here to protect the Bow River,” she said with a smile. “It’s a training and recruiting centre for Naval Reservists to augment the Regular Force.” CPO 2 Dziver added that working as a Naval Reservist is an excellent job for students, since they do their training in the winter and have the opportunity to go on ships on the west coast during the summer months.

Between the mini doughnuts and midway fun, our military members love being part of thousands of visitors’ Calgary Stampede tradition.


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