By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
It is a piece of Oshawa is older than Canada herself.
On Sept. 17, residents filed into the General Motors Centre to honour the Ontario Regiment, which as of Sept. 14, has been a staple of the region for 150 years.
Formed in 1866, the year before Confederation brought this country together, the Ontarios are one of the oldest continuous serving army regiments in Canada.
The event marked the culmination of planning and events that have spanned throughout 2016, including the launch of a new regimental history book.
The latest piece of history kicked off with a changing of command ceremony inside the GM Centre, as Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Rostek handed the reigns over to the incoming commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Clayton.
Lt.-Col. Rostek, the commanding officer of the regiment for the past three years, spoke highly of his time with the Ontarios.
“Commanding the Ontarios has unquestionably been one of the most professionally rewarding tasks or duties of my career,” he said. “Being welcomed into this extensive family has been nothing short of marvellous.”
Incoming commanding officer Lt.-Col. Clayton said the regiment can expect his unwavering efforts to carry them forward into the potentially turbulent years ahead.
“I intend to work tirelessly with our honoraries…to further promote the best interests of the regiment and the associate organizations within Durham” he says. “The army and the regiment are going to be very busy in the coming years, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve seen this before, in the 90s, and the lead up to Afghanistan. The regular force cannot do it alone and the reserves will be expected to ante up.”
The ceremony also saw the replacement of the regimental sergeant major with Chief Warrant Officer David Monroe handing the baton to Chief Warrant Officer William Irving.
As part of the ceremony, the Ontario Regiment marched in formation and were inspected by Colonel Spike Hazleton, the Canadian Defense Attache to Italy, Greece, Albania, Slovenia, Croatia and Malta.
He appeared to approve of what he saw.
“I can stand here today before you and say with great confidence that the Ontario Regiment has been well served by Lieutenant-Colonel Rostek and RSM Monroe and will continue to be well served under Lietenant-Colonel Clayton and RSM Irving,” he said.
Following the ceremony, the troops marched from the GM Centre through downtown Oshawa to their home at the armouries for a reception. The night culminated with a gala inside the GM Centre.