Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness and pride that I witnessed the decommissioning and final reunion of Canada's oldest Sea Cadet corps, the Bellerophon, chartered on November 25, 1918.
The Bellerophon has a long-standing history of service in the Welland community. It was an outstanding organization that made valuable contributions to the development of many young Canadians, who now epitomize the meaning of good citizenship.
A local organization both innovative and progressive in nature, Bellerophon, under Horace Cox and Ed Mason, introduced young women into the corps in 1919, even though they received no support or recognition from the Navy League.
This is a time of mixed emotions for Alan O'Neill, chair of the decommissioning committee, whose fond memories and long-lasting friendships are no doubt the silver lining to his noble efforts to save the Bellerophon, memories that include the Bellerophon Drum and Bugle Band, which continues to exist as the only Sea Cadet alumni band in Canada. Since its inception in 1993, the band has contributed over $400,000 to Wellanders.
May the spirit of Bellerophon live on in every shipmate who had the privilege of being part of the oldest Canadian Sea Cadet corps, and may their distinguished history never be forgotten.