"HISTORY of APPRENTICE TRAINING SQUADRON"
The Apprentice Training Program was in effect from the arrival of the
1st Intake in January 1953 until the graduation of the 14th Intake in July 1967.
During these years 847 sixteen-year-old inductees from all across Canada
(and one from Germany) were processed through the
Sapper Apprentice Training Squadron at Camp Chilliwack,
Vedder Crossing, British Columbia.
The training took two years to complete, the first year included the normal
military training that one would expect in a recruit squadron,
and would be conducted for four hours a day.
The remainder of the day was spent in school being taught academics
under the instruction of a small cadre of civilian teachers.
The aim of the training, was to raise the individuals education level
to Junior matriculation in British Columbia.
Once the Apprentices could march and properly wear and maintain
their uniforms they were then given basic training such as;
Weapons, Field Defenses and Obstacles, Rigging, Rafting and Water-manship,
The daily training included a rigorous fitness and sports program of Track and Field,
Cross-Country Running and Tabloid Sports.
The recreational program included Rod and Gun Club, Squadron Band
Baseball, Soccer and Football.
The second year was a continuation of the academic training
and more Corp training such as Bridging, Roads and Airfields,
Demolitions and Water Supply.
Upon graduation individuals were awarded the Group I Field Engineer
qualification and badge. Part of the second year training
included an introduction to Trades Training with a familiarization
in the following subjects- Carpentry, Plumbing, Sheet Metal, Painting
and Masonry. Graduation was normally in July followed by postings
to the various Field Squadrons in Chilliwack, Petawawa, Gagetown or Germany
or Trades positions in the Works Companies at the different Bases.
Additionally, Franco students that had limited English capability
took their first year of training in Montreal and then joined their fellow
Sapper/Apprentices in Chilliwack, in the second year.
The Engineers were not the only Corp to have an Apprentice Program;
similar programs existed with the Artillery (Shilo),
Signals (Kingston), Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, (Borden then Kingston),
Army Service Corp (Borden), and the Ordnance Corp (Montreal).
Until an Apprentice reached the age of seventeen, they only received
half the pay of a Regular Sapper.
The initial enrolment of the Apprentice was for seven years,
with an option to release at five; two years were spent
in the Apprentice Training Squadron and the remainder in field units.
After the first seven years surprisingly enough the attrition was not that great
and many Apprentices stayed for a full career in the military
with the majority of those attaining Senior NCO or Officer rank
through the Commissioning From the Ranks (CFR) program.
The success and good attendance of the Apprentice Reunions is due
mainly to the tremendous bond that was created during that two years of training,
not only with the other Sapper/Apprentices but with the staff as well
that were so dedicated to the Apprentice Program top of page