History of anvil salute

Victoria Day will be on Monday, May 20. Once again the celebration will be highlighted locally by the Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery, which will fire the traditional "21 gun" anvil salute to Queen Elizabeth II and to the memory of Queen Victoria.

Victoria Day has been marked in New Westminster since May of 1859, mere months after the site had been chosen for the capital city by Colonel Moody of the Royal Engineers, and before the city had received its name, chosen by Queen Victoria.

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This first Victoria Day celebration took place at the Royal Engineers' camp located, in today's terms, on a portion of the City's Fraserview development near Columbia Street.

That event is often referred to as the Victoria Day salute with a quote from the report of the day, ".what rendered the day so peculiarly interesting was its being the first time Her Majesty's subjects in this distant part of the world have had an opportunity of expressing their loyalty and devotion to their beloved sovereign."

For about 25 years the Victoria Day salute to the sovereign by the Anvil Battery has featured historical information in the one-minute intervals between the 21 shots being fired.

These have become popular with those in attendance who have expressed their enjoyment of the "history lesson" that accompanies the traditional event.

Sometimes these pieces of information are part of a formal recognition of an important anniversary in the community.

Representatives of a particular group stand with an officer of the Battery to receive a single salute as part of the overall 21 shots on the day.

This specific recognition has been given several times in the past few years, including New Westminster's 150 year anniversary in 2009; the Royal Canadian Navy 100 year anniversary in 2010; the local Fire Department's 150-year anniversary and the Hyack Festival Association's 40 years in 2011; and Royal Columbian Hospital's 150year anniversary last year.

This year, The Royal Westminster Regiment is celebrating its 150th anniversary. This group will be honoured by the Anvil Battery with a salute of formal recognition.

In November of 1863 with the disbanding of the Columbia Detachment of Royal Engineers, a new militia group for the small town on the Fraser was formed.

Today's regiment takes great pride in tracing its family tree back to this militia group, the New Westminster Rifle Company No. 1, as well as to its links to the Corps of Royal Engineers.

Plan to come out to Queen's Park Stadium on Victoria Day (May 20) for the full program beginning between 11: 15 and 11: 30 a.m. and the salute of "21 guns" at noon, and be part of this ancient and honourable Royal City tradition.

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