From: Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Halifax Rifles reborn and ready
Storied militia unit revived after 44 years
By PAT LEE Staff Reporter
Mon. May 11 - 5:10 AM
Defence Minister Peter MacKay inspects the honour guard during a return-to-service ceremony
for the Halifax Rifles at the Armoury in Halifax on Sunday.(INGRID BULMER / Staff)
Forty-four years after retired Lt.-Col. Russell Hubley's army reserve unit was shut down, he was proud to be in
the audience to see the first recruit be sworn in to the newly reactivated Halifax Rifles.
"I'm very, very happy to see the Halifax Rifles back again," the last commanding officer of the regiment said
Sunday at a ceremony held at the Halifax Armouries.
"Now that they're back again after all these years, they can get on to the job they were going to do, to serve
At the ceremony, which included speeches and document signings by Defence Minister Peter MacKay as well as
army brass, the regiment was officially reactivated as part of the 36 Canadian Brigade Group to fill a light
armoured reconnaissance role.
Justin Plante, 17, of Eastern Passage, had the honour of being the reserve unit's first new recruit and was
sworn in by newly assigned commanding officer Maj. Shane Gallant before the assembled masses.
The Grade 11 student at Cole Harbour District High School said he hopes to make a career in the military and
thinks the reserve unit is a good place to start.
"I thought this would be a quick way to get in," said Justin, who hopes to be a combat engineer in the military.
The unit will recruit 120 to 130 members and need to find a home for training.
The Halifax Rifles was established as a militia unit in 1860 and saw active service during the Northwest
Rebellion of 1885 and in both world wars.
Over the years, the regiment has had two Canadian prime ministers and three Nova Scotia premiers among its
In 1965, the unit was made inactive, and over the years, several individuals and groups had made it their
mission to see the group reinstated.
Most speakers credited the hard work and persistent lobbying by members of the Halifax Rifles Armoury
Association and Friends of the Halifax Rifles for the government change of heart.
Rob Cuthbert, president of the Halifax Rifles Armoury Association, said as recently as last May, his group was
told reactivation wasn't likely to happen.
"But things change and we kept fighting and kept sending letters and making presentations and recruiting
other people to help," said Mr. Cuthbert, who joined the rifles himself as a teenager before embarking on a
37-year career in the military.
Brig.-Gen. Dave Neasmith, commander of Land Force Atlantic, called it a "rare event" to have a unit put back
"I have every confidence that this fine unit will soon . . . contribute to the vital task of serving Canada's best
interests at home and abroad, and once again make a visible mark on Nova Scotia's proud military tradition by
producing world-class soldiers and world-class leaders, as the Halifax Rifles have done in the past."
Mr. MacKay said the reservists who join the regiment will be an integral part of the Canadian Forces and may
find themselves deployed to hot spots like Afghanistan, Haiti or Sudan.
"The reserves play such an important part in our military today," he said.