Canadian Rangers provide winter survival training for combat engineers

Rangers and combat engineers around a camp fire
Master Corporals Yvonne Sutherland and Joe Lazarus discuss winter survival skills with two combat engineers around the camp fire. Photo: Sergeant Peter Moon, Canadian Rangers

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By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

Soldiers from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER) at Garrison Petawawa participated in a five-day winter survival training activity in Killarney Provincial Park, south of Sudbury, Ontario.

“The Rangers are the experts, so it’s been fantastic to have them with us,” said Sergeant Chris Bard.

In addition to building emergency shelters, the soldiers learned how to ice-fish, snare small game, cook in the cold, and cope with challenging temperatures. They trained in wind chills that often dropped to as low as -40C.

A highlight of the training for some soldiers was to find they were sleeping only 35 metres from a hibernating black bear.

“The Rangers see things we don’t,” Sergeant Bard said. “They see potentials for emergency shelters, firewood, animals. They saw what looked like condensed breath coming from behind a tree. None of us saw it. They went over to check it out and found it was coming from a hole above a bear den with a sleeping bear inside it. They covered it over and kept us away so as not to disturb the bear.”

“There was an incredibly positive reaction to the Rangers,” said Major Matt Hoard. “They bring so much to the table. Five days was not long enough for all they had to offer. They are really remarkable in what they know and pass on.”

“The soldiers were impressed by the fact that the Rangers are totally at home on the land,” said Warrant Officer Ron Wen, a Ranger instructor. “The Rangers come out here and live while others come out here and survive.”

Image gallery

  • Ranger Richard Yellowhead, Master Corporals Yvonne Sutherland and Joe Lazarus, and Master Corporal Bradley Anderson
  • Rangers and combat engineers share a laugh in an emergency shelter
  • Rangers and combat engineers around a camp fire
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