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Second World War artifacts give glimpse of coastal war history

Alberni Valley Museum holds history of Pacific Coast Militia Rangers in exhibit cases

The Pacific Coast Militia Rangers only existed on the West Coast for four years during the Second World War, but their impact on the Alberni Valley remains in photos and artifacts on display at the Alberni Valley Museum.

When PCMR was formed in 1941 they were not yet formally part of the Canadian Army, and members did not have formal uniform pieces. Members typically wore armbands to identify themselves as part of the militia. In the Alberni Valley, men from Port Alberni, Alberni, Great Central Lake, Franklin River and Camp One were all part of No. 5 Company.

There are three PCMR uniform pieces on display at the Alberni Valley Museum. An armband from John Herbert (Bert) Beaty was donated by John (David) Beaty and clearly shows the name of the “Alberni Rangers” on it. There is also a campaign hat with hat badge belonging to the Mary Lee Vincent family and donated for display by Christine Sadzak.

One of the largest artifacts is a khaki canvas bush jacket donated to the museum by Vivian Thompson in 2006.

The waxed canvas jacket features a “poacher’s pocket” in the back that reached all the way from one side to the other, museum curator Kirsten Smith said.

The first apparel issued by the military to the rangers, according to the museum, were called ‘Dry-Bak’, first supplied by a Vancouver company under the name ‘Pioneer.’ The New York-based company made waxed canvas clothing that was popular with hunters.

The Alberni Valley Museum is located at 4255 Wallace St. inside Echo Centre. For more information, call 250-720-2863. The museum will be closed on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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