On Sunday, October 16, 2005 the City of Port Moody honoured Port Moody Legion Branch #119 with Freedom of the City in recognition of the Legion’s long and distinguished presence within the City and their many contributions.
Freedom of the City has a long history dating back to the 1600’s in England and today the honour can be bestowed on individuals or to military units or organizations. Historically, it literally meant to have freedom of the city and those with the honour were free to come and go within the city limits. History tells different stories of the privileges accompanying the honour.
History of the ceremony
Traditionally, the ceremony starts as the unit to be granted the Freedom of the City marches towards city hall, colour cased (and rifles carried without bayonets fixed). When the unit nears city hall, they are stopped by the chief constable standing in front of a barrier in the centre of the road. The unit halts at the barrier. The chief constable challenges the unit on its identity, and the commanding officer responds with the unit's title. The chief constable then calls for the unit to "advance one and be recognized". Only the commanding officer moves closer to the barrier.
The commanding officer, accompanied by the chief constable, then marches to the door of city hall where the commanding officer knocks on the door three times with the pommel of his or her sword. The mayor opens the door, and the commanding officer declares his name and that of the unit.
The mayor and councillors line up at the entrance to city hall and the mayor reads a proclamation proclaiming that Freedom of the City is bestowed on the unit. The commanding officer accepts the freedom, returns to the unit and the chief constable orders the barrier removed. The colour is unfurled and the unit marches past, with the mayor taking the salute.
Once a unit has been granted Freedom of the City, it may exercise its freedom on occasions arranged with the civic authority.
Today, the honour enables the Legion to march within City limits on special occasions. Additionally, upon request of Mayor Joe Trasolini to extend year-round free parking to all Veterans at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, Fraser Health Authority has granted free parking to veterans during Veterans’ Week in November. To commemorate the occasion, the Legion has also been presented with an engraved paving stone which is installed at Queen Street Plaza.
The ceremony for Port Moody Legion Branch 119 re-enacting the historical march on the City took place in front of City Hall on a very stormy October 16, 2005.