BORDEN-CARLETON — It can never repay the work they did and the sacrifices made, but it’s a start.
© Brett Poirier/Journal Pioneer
Fernando Fernandes gets ready to depart for the 25-kilometre hike to Summerside from Borden-Carleton in the parade of motorcycles marking the opening of the Highway of Heroes on Saturday.
The new Highway of Heroes was unveiled Saturday in the community of Borden-Carleton, with hundreds of veterans and officers of all kind on hand.
The 115-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada highway between the Confederation Bridge and Wood Islands now has another name.
Unlike other landmarks for just service veterans, this highway is for all heroes — anyone who has served in uniform.
“This new highway is for all the men and women who protect and serve,” said Fernando Fernandes, president of the South Africa unit at the Canadian Army Veterans (CAV) Motorcycle Unit. “There’s so many heroes to recognize, some nationally and some in our own backyard who are around us everyday.”
P.E.I. was the second last province to have a highway dedicated to heroes.
About two years ago, Fernandes contacted the province with a proposal.
“A group of us met and reviewed the importance of this highway. It’s a way to say ‘thank you’ to those who work for us everyday.”
Fernandes said the province loved the idea.
“They wanted to help. They were on the same page as us from the beginning.”
Transportation Minister Robert Vessey was happy to be in attendance for the milestone day.
“It’s been done in other areas of our country and I’m very proud to see it here today,” said Vessey. “You could see it in their faces. It’s a very exceptional day for the veterans.”
The minister said his department would move quickly to get the new signage posted across the province.
“We have signs at the entry points of the province now (Borden-Carleton and Wood Islands),” added Vessey. “In the next couple of days I except everything to be up.”
The official mark of the new highway came just before 5 p.m., when hundreds of motorcycles left Borden-Carleton and drove, together, to Summerside.
Paul “Trapper” Cane, the past national president of the Canadian Army Veterans motorcycle Unit, was near the front of the barrage of motorcycles.
“We’re all driving together and I guarantee we will all smile when we see that sign on the highway,” said Cane.
He formed the CAV in 2003 and recently stepped down as president, but said the mission will remain the same.
“We want to recognize the heroes of the past, present, and the future.”
The initial motivation to forming the CAV was to unite veterans who ride motorcycles.
“There was a need in our country for this group,” said Cane. “We found a way to unite thousands across the country.”
More than 250 motorcycles took part in the 25-km hike to the western city, most of them being veterans.
Fernandes, who lives on P.E.I., has been excited about this day for months.
“We served our country and our communities, now they’re serving us. Every time I drive by a Highway of Heroes sign, I’ll think back to this great day.”