CFB Valcartier opens its doors to visitors

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Civilians of all ages learned about military equipment like that found inside tanks and trucks.

Canadian Forces Base Valcartier welcomed thousands of visitors on Aug. 18. While celebrating the 50th anniversary of the base, members of the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group generously welcomed visitors to their headquarters in order to share their expertise and way of life.

This unique annual event gives civilians of all ages the opportunity to see military personnel in action. At the military base 30 minutes northwest of Quebec City, people enjoyed viewing and even climbing aboard various military vehicles.  

Parents took photos of their children as they clambered on tanks and trucks and tried on camouflage gear and night vision goggles. Men and women picked up average-sized backpacks, which appeared to be much lighter than they really were. There were parades and demonstrations throughout the day. There were bouncy castles and face painting for children, as well as food trucks and souvenir shops. 

At noon, there was a simulated attack, complete with colourful smoke bombs. Trained snipers were in position. Medics took care of “injured” combatants. “This was amazing. I was not expecting it,” said Amanda Leblanc, 16. “I love seeing the military in action. I especially liked the big cannon [artillery piece]. I wish they had fired it!” 

The open house at CFB Valcartier is a unique foray into the military world of the approximately 4,500 men and women in uniform who work and train there. During the rest of the year, the public knows little of what happens within the gates of the base. Those who live nearby hear gun and artillery fire. Military vehicles are often seen on public roads and parades can be seen at the Quebec Citadelle. 

“In partnership with the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, we are really happy to continue this popular tradition,” said Marie Blanchet, chair of the Valcartier Family Centre Foundation. “After the success of 2016 and 2017, we wanted to have a third edition with as much stature. It is such a beautiful and free activity for civilians. Children, like their parents and other adults, have so much fun going from military vehicles to the viewing of weapons and demonstrations.” She continued, “It is a great way for 13,000 visitors to learn about military life and work, and about an army base. The military personnel are wonderful people ready to share their passion and teach civilians about tanks, uniforms, gear and weapons.” 
All photos by Cassandra Kerwin
This young boy tries to open a locked door with a heavy metal ram during the third annual CFB Valcartier Open House.  
Children learn how to clear a minefield.   
Time to pull out the big guns! These artillery pieces were not fired, however, as the blast could have damaged people’s ears. 
During a simulated attack, this medic checks the status of a fallen soldier.