White Rock’s 25-pound field gun at city hall.

White Rock’s 25-pound field gun at city hall.

Abbotsford museum aiming to restore White Rock’s historic artillery

White Rock council refers proposal to city staff at council meeting Jan. 16.

An Abbotsford-based military museum is casting longing glances at an artillery piece that has long been a fixture next to White Rock’s Cenotaph at city hall.

Dean Fraser and Gordon Wozencroft of the Canadian Military Education Centre appeared at city council’s Jan. 16 meeting to ask consideration for a bid to restore and take over custody of the the 25-pound field gun, while dedicating it to the city.

They said the centre, which was initially established in 2006 at the former Canadian Forces base in Chilliwack, would undertake full restoration of the weather-worn gun at no cost to the city – a process that would take less than a year.

It would then be housed with the centre’s collection, which is made available for educational programs and mall shows, but would still be accessible to the city.

Council passed a motion to refer the proposal to staff.

“We would be more than happy to bring the gun out for special events in the city,” Wozencroft told council, noting that, at one time, the Canadian army had similar artillery pieces guarding Semiahmoo Bay.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin said at the meeting that the city would have to consider carefully losing full-time custody of the weapon, quipping that “in light of the election south of the border, this is the Lower Mainland’s first line of defence.”

Technically known as an Ordnance Quick Firing 25-pounder, the gun is an example of the main field piece of Canadian artillery units through the Second World War and the Korean War.

Based on a British design and using standardized ammunition, the guns entered service in 1940 and were still equipping Canadian units into the 1960s, although they had been phased out for practical and training uses by the mid-to-late 1950s.

Coun. Lynne Sinclair told council that, according to historical and former councillor Vin Coyne, the gun had been on display for years at Sunnyside Cemetery, but was moved to White Rock at the suggestion of the late George Bryant, former city gardener, more than three decades ago.

“When  (Sunnyside) decided they didn’t want it anymore, it was brought down 152nd Street,” she said.

Baldwin said the centre’s proposal should be considered following a report from staff.

“The biggest thing is that it has to come back for Remembrance Day, so we should take a look at that,” he said.