On the 60th Anniversary of the 2644 Cadet Corps
Major Jean-Luc Pilon
Commanding Officer, 2644 Cadet Corps
Le Régiment de Hull
The history of cadet corps in the Gatineau area goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. Cadet corps have undergone many changes since the days when they were based in schools. The uniforms changed with time and the programmes have evolved a great deal. Young women were not allowed to be cadets until 1975, but since then have contributed enormously and equally to the success of the programme. Cadet corps have been formed and others have disappeared.
The 2644 Cadet Corps of the Régiment de Hull came into being November 1st, 1959. This year, 2019, the 2644 will mark 60 years of existence in the Gatineau community. The original sponsor for the creation of the corps was Lt-Col Guy de Merlis, then commanding officer of the Régiment de Hull. The 2644 resulted from the fusion of the Rapides-des-Chênes and Aylmer cadet corps. When first formed the cadet corps was affiliated with the Régiment de Hull and that association continues to this day. That first year, the corps numbered 225 cadets.
The size of the cadet corps has varied over the years with a low point of around 50 in the mid-1970s and a peak of nearly 225 a decade later. During the last 20 years, the number of cadets in the corps has averaged nearly 150, including both young men and young women. We estimate that since its creation, more than 3,000 young adults have been members of the 2644. These youth have come from all socio-economic levels of our community and reflect our dynamic society which is in full socio-cultural effervescence. Many newly arrived Canadian join the cadets precisely to learn more about Canada and Canadians.
During the 60 years of its existence, cadets from the 2644 have participated in a multitude of activities in addition to their regular weekly training and summer camps. Young people from the corps have participated in exchanges with the UK, went to southern Chile, helped out during Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, went to Normandy to commemorate the June Beach Landings, excelled in sports competitions and shooting, become leaders and much, much more. The young people who passed through the big green doors of the de Salaberry Armory distinguished themselves and later went on to take their rightful places in our community.
The objectives of the cadet programme, whether Army, Air or Sea Cadets, revolve around four pillars: physical conditioning, good citizenship, leadership and familiarization with the Canadian Armed Forces. The young adults who go through the programme acquire knowledge that will serve them throughout their entire lives. For example, they learn to structure and organize lessons, come to understand how to contribute to projects. They master their leadership skills, learn the importance of helping their neighbours and they know the importance of participating in the life of their neighbourhoods.
Marking the 60th anniversary of the 2644 Cadet Corps is more than just an opportunity to remember lifelong friendships or unforgettable and life-changing experiences of adolescence. It’s a time to recall the positive impact that this youth programme has had in our community over the past six decades. It’s a chance to celebrate the history of the 2644 Cadet Corps and look forward to the contributions that these young people will make in the future, during the next six decades.
Over the course of the next year, culminating with the 60th Annual Revue next May 9, a series of activities are planned to commemorate the anniversary of the 2644. Are you a former 2644 cadet? To learn more about the 2644 Cadet Corps and its commemoration, visit our website: www.cc2644.ca.