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Hyack Anvil Battery maintains 150-plus-years' streak in New Westminster

"21-gun salute" in New West is for Queen Victoria – but King Charles III gets three cheers

The Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery’s streak remains intact.

Jerry Dobrovolny, captain of the Hyack Anvil Battery, said the group has been committed to keeping its 150-plus year streak going by doing the anvil salute on Victoria Day. The annual salute has continued, but it hasn’t been open to the public since 2019.

“When COVID hit, we just wanted to make sure we kept the streak going, so we pulled back to ensure we didn’t have to cancel a year,” he said. “The only year the battery was silent was in 1901 when Queen Victoria died. The battery just stood at attention that year but didn’t fire.”

Dobrovolny said the group hopes to welcome the public back to the event in Queen’s Park Stadium next year.

On Monday, a small gathering of the family members, plus a few folks with accessibility issues, were inside the stadium, while others watched the salute through the chain-link fence.

This quirky New West tradition occurs when gunpower is placed on a playing card that’s positioned on the top of an anvil. Once a second anvil in placed on top, the battery ignites the explosion with a long, heated iron.

Folks watching this year’s “21-gun salute” may have noticed a small delay for the final two shots.

“The coal furnace went out,” Dobrovolny said. “Not sure if was the coal, but, yes, it was the first time in anyone’s memory that we missed the one-minute timing intervals.”

Another first was commemorated at this year’s anvil salute, which followed the May 6 coronation of King Charles III.

“The salute is for Queen Victoria, but then we have three cheers for the reigning monarch and sang God Save the King,” Dobrovolny said. “Still feels a little odd after signing God Save the Queen for my whole life.”