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'Newfoundland Rangers Continue Commitment to Education In Province'

The Newfoundland Ranger Force is a big part of our history and heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Ranger Force began in 1935 and served under the British Commission of Government prior to our entering Confederation with Canada in 1949. The Ranger Force, with it’s eventual enrollment of 204 enlisted men, provided the main link between the people of our province and their government. The Rangers had great expectations made of them, and never failed to meet and surpass those expectations of the people. They administered public order and law, kept an eye on their communities, and defused volatile situations while living their lives as part of the community. It was not uncommon for a Ranger to arrive to pick up a prisoner and have to stay in the prisoners’ family home for the night. Such was the way it was for these men, in those times. Service to the people became their lives, involving themselves with families, upholding the law, encouraging education and health, and at times even teaching students themselves. Any large disasters such as the sinking of the ‘S.S.Caribou’, by a German submarine in 1942, and the American tragedy of the loss of the ‘USS Truxton’ and ‘USS Pollox’ during World War Two always found the Rangers to be at the ready. No requirement was too much for these stalwart men.

With Confederation came a new police force, the Federal RCMP. Some of the Newfoundland Rangers enlisted, others found other avenues to explore. But always their backgrounds would draw them together. Being the daughter of Newfoundland Ranger #176, S. R. Jarvis, I can honestly say that the Rangers, their wives and their families were a big part of my life even after the Ranger Force had dissolved. A commonality held these men together and does to this day.

In 1968, about 70 surviving Rangers met for their first reunion, and the Newfoundland Ranger Force Association was set in motion, holding monthly meetings and an annual reunion. The group held together and had common goals. Now the numbers are dwindling and only 33 of the original 204 Rangers remain. Fourteen live in St. John’s and area, eleven live in other parts of Newfoundland, seven outside the province and now one cannot be located. The Rangers say he would be eighty-nine and is probably deceased.

Such is the state of affairs now and the Rangers’ face this with a sense of acceptance and the desire to have their causes continue when they are gone. The Annual Reunion of their association this year, and if not, then definitely next year, 2009, may be the last of the reunions and meetings as the demise of their association is inevitable says Mr. Ches Parsons, a proud Newfoundland Ranger. He says that all members are now over eighty years of age, with one over ninety years of age. He knows that the Ranger Force Association is nearing it’s end, and accepts that eventuality with ease and grace.

The Newfoundland Ranger Force Association focused on education during it’s years of activity. They sensed a need for a scholarship fund to help young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians achieve University based education. It is amazing how such a small group could achieve so much in so short a time.

In the late 1980's the Rangers set out to raise $5,000.00 to finance a $500.00 scholarship. However it soon became obvious that university fees and low interest rates had reached a point where $5,000.00 could not generate sufficient funds to endow a continuing scholarship. The sights were raised to $10,000.00, this was achieved in short order, and promptly presented to Memorial University on December 20, 1991. In 1995 two scholarships of $500.00 each were awarded from the Rangers fund.

Now the drive to have $1,000.00 scholarships became a challenge, and they soon met that goal, and more, enabling them to direct Memorial University to award two $1,500.00 scholarships yearly. This money was raised and donated by Association members and their families. Truly an inspirational story.

Not ones to rest on their laurels the Rangers raised the goal again and the fund grew and grew, such was their drive and determination. The scholarships were in the amount of $2,000.00 in a few years and the University was directed to issue two $2,000.00 scholarships yearly and in perpetuity. What a stunning success the journey had been!

Now the fund is in excess of $130,000.00 and Memorial University has been advised to issue three $2,000.00 scholarships yearly. For the academic year of 2008-2009 the three scholarships, always awarded on academic achievement, went to students from St. John’s, Greenspond, and Conception Bay South. Students from seventeen towns or communities have received these Ranger Force scholarships, and one of those students is now a surgeon. Ranger Force Association members are particularly delighted when they speak of the letters of thanks they have received and one wonders who has the bigger smiles, our delighted students, or our aging Ranger Force benefactors. The Rangers want the students to know these scholarships are available and encourage them to apply each year. They truly have ‘served’ as they were sworn to do so many years ago. I am sure each and every Ranger and family member involved in this undertaking feels a heart full of pride in what they have contributed to our province.

Memorial University has accepted the administration of the Rangers’ scholarship fund and the awarding of the scholarships since its’ inception. It is a piece of our Ranger Force history that very few people know, and they should know what these men have achieved even after active duty. We are proud of them all. I say men, as no women were enlisted in the Ranger Force, it was a different time then. But their wives played a huge part in their husband’s careers and they are to be commended as well. Such a small group of men and their families have achieved a goal that they never would have dreamed would be so great when they first envisioned it. They are to be congratulated and thanked for this achievement.

Even though the existence of the Ranger Force Association will now be short lived, members and their families will be asked to contribute to the fund directly to Memorial University of Newfoundland, either by cash, bequests, or endowments.

Even as they enter the twilights of their lives the Rangers will live on as they tidy up their work and ensure that it will be carried on, in perpetuity.

Thank you Rangers, from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. You have always been there for us, even when we did not know.

What a Force they were, and what a Force they continue to be.

Their resolve is sensed in a final entry made by #153 Ranger Walter Greene in the Harbour Breton Detachment diary read:

"Wind South East, Foggy, with Showers. At office all day re final Ranger Force returns. This is the last day that the Ranger Force will be in existence and it is not without feelings of regret that this member puts away for all time the old khaki uniform. FINIS."

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe