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New Westminster’s anvil salute: “It is a great tradition for the city.”

Photos: Extra briquettes help stoke the fire for the Hyack Anvil Battery’s 2024 salute in New West

A New Westminster tradition continued – with some changes and a bit of a delay.

Members of the Ancient and Honourable Anvil Battery hosted their annual anvil salute on Monday in Queen’s Park Stadium. The annual salute to Queen Victoria has taken place on her birthday for 153 years.

More than 200 people attended the event, which involves the placement of gunpowder between two massive anvils. A rod that’s heated up in a fire is then used to ignite the gunpowder, setting off a loud blast as the gunpowder ignites and sending the top anvil flying.

The Victoria Day event was set to begin with a siting shot at 11:55 a.m., followed by the 21-shot salute at noon. The group, however, encountered some challenges keeping the fire burning so the poker could get hot enough to ignite the gunpowder.

A former longtime member of the Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery – who lives nearby – headed to Queen’s Park out of curiosity when he didn’t hear the explosions and helped get the fire going. Reinforcements also came from a family member of two battery members, who brought an additional bag of briquettes for the fire.

“We’re almost there,” battery captain Jerry Dobrovolny assured the crowd at 12:28 p.m.

By 12:30, the ceremony was underway and continued without delay.

While the anvil battery salute has taken place for more than 150 years, there were a couple of changes to this year’s event.

Instead of the military-inspired uniforms of recent decades, battery members wore street clothes – as was the case when the salute began.

This year’s event also marked the first time women have been part of the Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery – with three women being among the six new members of the group.

Stephanie Purvis said she was honoured to be asked to be one of the first females on the battery. She said she’s glad the battery members decided to make it more inclusive by having women participate.

“It is a great tradition for the city, and showing that we can all evolve and include everyone makes it that much better,” she said. “Plus, who doesn't want to have the chance to blow up some anvils?”

Like many members of the Hyack Anvil Battery, who have relatives that have served on the battery, Purvis’s father, Bill Radbourne, was a longtime member of the group.

“It does make it more special for me as he is no longer with us,” she said in a statement to the Record. “I get to continue in his footsteps which a lot of girls don't get to say that when it comes to their fathers and the activities that they may have been involved in. When I told my mom, she was super excited for me as well.”