An iconic national institution celebrated Saturday in Ottawa with the Governor General’s footguards celebrating their 150th anniversary with a “Freedom of the City” parade.
It was a proud moment for member Xavier Marriot, who was dressed in the traditional red scarlet coats and bear hat.
“I knew I wanted to be in the military since I was 14,” said the 17-year-old. “We exercise freedom in the city that was granted in the 1800s. They used to have to give permission for a military unit to enter the city and we remember that today.”
Since 1872, the regiment has served Canada’s needs in both combat and ceremonial roles. As part of the 150e anniversary, the 100-troop regiment marched from Cartier Square Drill Hall to the Heritage Building of Ottawa City Hall on Elgin Street.
From a distance, Marriott’s family watched.
“We were so proud of him,” said Marriott’s grandfather, Noel Lapierre. “He gets involved and he’s not afraid to get involved and work for his country.”
“He’s only 17, I thought oh he has such a baby face,” said mother Brigitte when she saw him from the crowd. “I know he’s been practicing and working on his uniform and his boots and he’s very well prepared.”
Marriott, who is currently in the reserve unit, hopes to continue in the infantry in the future. But for now, he’s enjoying his moment in the 150th celebration.
“It is very rewarding and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
For many in Ottawa, it was the first time in a long time to see the foot guards in action.
“With (the pandemic) of the past two years, the public duties of the past two summers have been canceled and unfortunately it has been canceled again this summer,” said Governor General Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Fran Chilton-Mackay.
A new color cabinet containing the 7th color stand was unveiled in the town hall. It is the unit’s battle flags that link the regiment’s members to its glorious past.
The organizing committee has organized events throughout the year, including a 150th birthday party and a smokers’ party on June 7 at the Cartier Square Drill Hall.