By Captain Pierre Leblanc, Public Affairs Officer, 34 Canadian Brigade Group
In 1990, combat engineers from 9 Field Squadron of 34 Combat Engineer Regiment (34 CER) and of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment built a footbridge in Aiguebelle Provincial Park in Abitibi. It was the beginning of a long collaboration between the provincial park and the Rouyn-Noranda Engineering Squadron.
Since the creation of the park in 1985, both organizations have helped each other. On the one hand, the park has benefitted from the collaboration of the Canadian Armed Forces during its development and, on the other hand, the members from Abitibi have benefitted from a training area near their home and professional development opportunities second to none.
Among the achievements are the suspended footbridge, the fire watchtower and the spiral staircase. The La Haie Brook Bridge, which was just inaugurated, was recently added to the list. It was during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the La Haie Brook Bridge by Colonel Dan Chafaï, Commanding Officer of the 34 Canadian Brigade Group, that France Simard, Director of the Aiguebelle Provincial Park, reminded us of the squadron’s accomplishments.
“It is part of our mandate to provide access to the park. The facilities built by the members allow visitors to access places and observe panoramic views that they wouldn’t normally be able to see,” said Ms. Simard. “The suspended footbridge has essentially become a symbol of the park. It’s the number one attraction for visitors.”
The footbridge, the first infrastructure to be completed, is 64 metres long and is suspended 22 metres over La Haie Lake. It is called the UBIQUE footbridge, a Latin word that recalls the motto of Canadian military engineering, meaning “everywhere at once.”
The La Haie Brook Bridge, the latest infrastructure to be completed, is nearly 17 metres long. Close to 60 members from the 34 CER worked 40 hours over three weekends to complete the bridge. The environmental restrictions were significant. They did not have the right to take down trees to bring in machinery or touch the water, since fish spawn in this brook. The result was that 3,000-pound steel beams had to be carried by hand between the parking lot and the site.
“I am delighted that the Canadian Armed Forces were able to contribute once again to the development of the park. We hope to have the opportunity to confer the Army’s knowledge again in the coming years,” said Major André Desrochers, Commanding Officer of the 9th Squadron of the 34 Combat Engineer Regiment.
The Aiguebelle Provincial Park is a Quebec provincial park. It is located partially in Mont-Brun and partially in Taschereau, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue tourism region and approximately 50 kilometres from Rouyn-Noranda.