Now that was loud.

With the firing of a cannon, the National Legion Week celebration officially kicked off in Cochrane on Sept. 23.

A replica 12-pound Mountain Howitzer from the mid-1800s was fired throughout the afternoon at the local Legion branch as part of a celebration of National Legion Week. Town councillor Susan Flowers had the honour of being the first to light the fuse of the cannon.

Flowers was also the first to fire an 1853 British Enfield Rifle.

rifleTown councillor Susan Flowers was the first to fire the 1853 British Enfield Rifle at the National Legion Week event. Legion member Doug Bateman closely watches.

"It was a unique experience," says Councillor Flowers. "My ears are still ringing from the second one," she laughs. "But it was louder than I thought it was going to be. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was loud."

Dave Mitchell wore the colours of Fort Texas Volunteers, who fought for the South in the American Civil War. He says this particular model was used for about five decades, from 1849 until about 1895. The barrel weighs about 300 lbs and the carriage 500 lbs. and were normally transported in two loads by four mules.

Wearing the colours of the north, John Bishop is a welder who made both the carriage and the wheels.

"I'm a Northern soldier but all I would have to do is change my hat to red hat and then I would be a Southern soldier as well," explains Bishop.

"We do believe that the South is the bad guy, though, so my pal here is definitely one of the bad guys."

Mitchell says they attend major shows each year in Didsbury and in Calgary. They've also done some mock train robberies at the Aspen Crossing.

The field rifle they brought was originally produced by Parker-Hale in 1853 and replicas continue to be manufactured by the company to this day.

Legion member Doug Bateman arranged for a George Rogers 9-pounder muzzle-loading gun to be on display at the show. It was used in the Boer Wars and the wheels are original, he explains.

He says the wheels were discovered in a barn on land farmed by Vince Robinson for many years. Robinson and Wally Rogers decided to use them to build a replica of the original.

Inside were displays from modellists, who do about eight showings each year.

inside show 2

"I refer to us as the 'Mad Modellers of Alberta', and it pretty much covers the whole genre of model building from sci-fi to aircraft. My wife does the Pokémon stuff for the kids, which they just love," says Ree.

"The point is to get people interested in the hobby and also to hear the stories. You come to somewhere like this and all the military stuff triggers stories and memories of people. It's cool to get the history and hear the stories."

Outside, a 60" Carbon-Arc Searchlight was rotating among the vintage military equipment on display. They were manufactured from 1932 to 1944 and had 800,000,000 candlepower, providing effective visibility for 28 to 35 miles (45 to 56 km) to spot enemy aircraft.

inside show 2The display of Quan Minh Vu was filled with models of the characters from the popular Japanese anime television series Neon Genesis Evangelion. He custom-painted the one he's holding.

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