Historical Vehicle Troop History
Historical Vehicle Troop, now in its 16th year, has evolved into a working collection of Military Vehicles used by the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) throughout its existence. Staffed by volunteers that are full-time crewman, the collection of operational tanks, scout cars, trucks and Armoured Personnel Carriers are maintained and operated along side their modern counterparts. The vehicles are utilized in parades, celebrations and fundraising events to raise awareness of the Regiment's accomplishments that bind us with the province of Alberta & it's public. While still dedicated to their primary jobs in the Canadian Forces, the volunteers learn new skills and attempt to restore pieces of our past for future generations to remember. The collection is comprised of working vehicles, giving uniqueness to a museum grade display that is truly remarkable.
The current collection includes a 1950's Sherman M4A3E8 tanks (called Catherine), a 1950's Centurion mk III (named Alberta), four 1950's Ferret Scout cars (we call them Dagger, Drumheller, Dieppe and Dictator), and a 1969 FMC Lynx Tracked Reconnaissance Carrier (dubbed Dervish). Our collection is rounded off with several soft skin wheeled vehicles that include a1944 CMP artillery tractor (nicknamed a Fat-4), a1942 Harley Davidson WLC dispatch motorcycle (yet to be christened), a 1958 Dodge M37 cargo truck and saving the biggest for last, a 1962 5ton/M810 Wrecker. New additions include a 1968 FMC M113A3 Armoured Personnel Carrier (we plan to call Chuckles) and a 1958 ANTAR (a tractor-trailer used to haul around Canadian Centurion tanks in Germany until 1980). Several other hulks await our attention including a pair of 1979 5/4ton Chevy cargo trucks, a 1943 Ford CMP cargo truck, a 1979 Leopard C1 MBT, a 1945 Russian T34/85 and a 5ton/M810 cargo truck. Some vehicles still on the way include several 1978 GM-built Cougar AVGPs, a pair of 1983 Bombardier-built Iltis jeeps, a 1996 Leopard C2 tank (currently in service) and a 1945 Universal Carrier mk II.
This past year saw major changes to our organization. We moved into our own hanger space that allowed the collection to be massed and more easily cared for. We saw our volunteer base grow to an unexpected 23 crewman of various ranks, all-eager to get out and do something out of the ordinary (most of our parents were children when the vehicles were built). Most notably this year, we have continued our self-education by taking on the restoration of a 1944 Universal Carrier mk II for the Loyal Edmonton Regiment.
The Alberta Centennial in 2005 saw HVT perform and appear at a level not yet seen in its existence. With a role in the newly started Edmonton Tattoo, a static display at the Alberta Legislature, a display at the Spruce Meadows International Equestrian in Calgary and participation in the Klondike Days Parade we had unprecedented exposure to the public and military alike. We hope you like what you saw if you caught us at one of these events. We also took the time this year to have some fun as well as work when we helped raise funds for playground equipment in the Oxford community in Edmonton. A willing car wreck from the Kidney foundation and use of property from the City of Edmonton were donated so that tickets could be sold. End result - three people won a ride in a Sherman tank as it repeatedly went over a late model Ford Torino and $3,100 was raised for the playground fund.
In 1990, as the Regiment began contemplating the 100th anniversary of the raising of Strathcona’s Horse in 2000, Master Corporal Jim Rice presented a plan to refurbish, to running condition, a Sherman tank. The main tank of the Canadians in the Second World War, and during the Korean conflict, the Sherman he had chosen was known to be a “runner” when decommissioned to become an aircraft target. It would no doubt require countless hours and considerable resources. Based on Jim’s plan and positive attitude, his project was granted $10,000 by the Regimental Society. Soon, a small corps of dedicated volunteers emerged from within the ranks of the Regiment and from civilians, both retired members and interested individuals. Within a short time the team displayed success, but also had pitfalls. Parts were scarce and experience on the Sherman was aging. Jim’s move to civilian employment resulted in a short period of inactivity, but his interest remained and served as a catalyst for the work to continue.
The energy and perseverance of some 13 soldiers and more than a handful of individuals and companies from the private sector produced not only a Sherman in running condition, but a “historic” troop of retired Armour vehicles that saw service with the Strathcona’s over the years.
Like their modern day counterparts, the vehicles of the Historic Vehicle Troop require many of hours of maintenance per month . However, unlike their counterparts, the Historic Vehicles do not have access to a dedicated spare parts supply system. Practically every part in need of replacement is meticulously disassembled, repaired and remounted. Often, parts require extensive, and expensive, rebuilding. The skills of the volunteer troop members are continuously challenged and always developing. Fortunately, donations have come in to offset the cost of parts and funding. As with any Armour vehicle the maintenance requirement will continue to keep these vehicles in running condition.