THE HISTORY OF 135 BELL-IRVING SQUADRON
135 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets was formed on the 20th of June 1942. It was originally stationed in South Burnaby with the name Royal Oak Squadron and was open to boys 14 ½ to 17 ½ years of age for the purpose of training them for service with the RCAF when of age. Following the war, the Air Cadet Program’s aims and training were changed to meet more practical needs of Canadian youth.
In the 1950’s, the squadron moved to Vancouver at RCAF Station Kitsilano, and given the name Vancouver Squadron. Following the closing of RCAF Station Kitsilano in 1965, the squadron moved to its permanent home in the Seaforth Armoury. In 1978, the squadron name was changed to Challenger.
In 1975, the Canadian Parliament authorized the enrolment of females in the cadet program. This permitted girls to take advantage of all the training programs and compete equally for promotions in cadets for the first time.
Since the formation of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in 1941, the organisation has continued to evolve and serve the needs of thousands of young people across Canada. In 1988, the age of enrolment was reduced once again to 12 years of age. It is now administered by joint partnership between the Canadian Air Force and civilian Air Cadet League. The aims are to promote the attributes of citizenship, leadership, and physical fitness and stimulate an interest in the Canadian Forces. It is presently the largest youth program in Canada and is regarded as one of the best in the world. 135 Bell-Irving Squadron is one of the oldest units in Canada.
In 2010, 135 Squadron changed its name to Bell-Irving to honour Air Commodore Alan Duncan Bell-Irving, one of the founders of the Air Cadet program. This was also done to show the connection between the Squadron and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada as A.D. Bell-Irving’s Father was one of the founders of the Highland Regiment.
In 2012, the Squadron moved to its temporary home at the Bessborough Armoury. This was caused by fact that the Seaforth Armoury is undergoing extensive renovations which are expected to last in between 3 and 5 years. The Squadron is grateful for the support that it has received from its temporary host unit, the 15th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA; though it is looking forward to returning to its permanent home at the Seaforth Armoury sometime in late 2016.