Princess Patricias celebrate 100 years in Calgary homecoming

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) came home to Calgary this weekend to celebrate its one-hundred years of service.

Storied regiment was 1st Canadians to fight overseas in WW I, Afghan War

Current and retired members of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry marked the regiment's 100th anniversary in Calgary Friday evening. (CBC)

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) came home this weekend to celebrate its 100 years of service.

For decades, the Patricias considered Calgary the regiment's home station and based one of their three battalions at Currie Barracks until they were ordered to Edmonton in 1997.

The storied — and much decorated — regiment marked its centennial in Calgary on Friday night with a gala where Alberta's Lieutenant Governor, a retired Patricia, highlighted the regiment's connection to Calgary.

"Calgary is an integral part of the equation. This city will always be home to the Patricias as far as I'm concerned," said Lt. Gov. Donald Ethell.  

The federal government also marked the Calgary celebration by giving the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Foundation $175,000.

 "We are so proud of you and so honoured to be in your presence," said Calgary-Centre Member of Parliament Joan Crockatt while announcing the funding.

Outside the gala, many retired and current soldiers celebrated in a much less formal way.

Inside a beer gardens, retired PPCLI soldiers fondly recalled their time with the regiment and the importance of the recent celebrations to them.

"It means the world to me," said Paul Beugrand, a retired Patricia.

Philip Fisher, who served with the PPCLI in the late 1960s and early 1970s, called his fellow soldiers "family."

"If you've ever served, you build a bond with other soldiers," said Fisher. "A friendship any stronger than any other walk of life."

Other retired soldiers stressed the PPCLI's connection to Canada's history.

"The Patricias ... are in the forefront of our military history," said Capt. Mike TerKuile. 

"We were the first in World War One overseas, we were first to deploy into Italy we were the first in Afghanistan."

Centennial celebrations don't end in Calgary.

About 50 soldiers are running a relay across five provinces to retrace a route used by troops before the First World War.

The Patricias will also take part in a sunset ceremony on Parliament Hill in late September.