The Canadian Rangers are a unique part of the Canadian Forces Reserves.

They spend most of their time keeping an eye on Canada’s far north, but a group of Rangers is training in Meaford this week.  

The military training centre in Meaford has been preparing soldiers for combat since the Second World War. But 60 men and women there this week are not soldiers; they are Canadian Rangers from communities across northern Ontario.

“They are here for six days of training in everything from first aid to navigation,” says Chris Keesic.

Keesic is from Moose Factory where he works at an Eco Lodge for tourists. He says this is an opportunity to learn some essential skills in case of an emergency.  He wants to be able to help.

“I'm just proud of it, I'm proud of being a Ranger,” he says.

The Canadian Rangers were first established in the 1940s as part of the Canadian Forces Reserve. Their job was to provide a military presence in Canada's north. Today the Rangers are often called on by police to assist in search and rescue operations because help for a lost hunter or downed aircraft could be hours away given the vast distances between communities.

Cap. Craig Dewell says the Rangers know the land better than anybody and can assist the military or police in their operations as well as serve their own communities.

“Many of the chiefs and councils in many of these communities rely on them heavily for what they are able to provide, in domestic operations such as forest fire evacuations, ground search and rescue with the Ontario Provincial Police,” he says. “They provide a lot.”

Wayne Beardy has been a Ranger for five years. He says when it’s cold, finding people quickly is a matter of life and death and he has already used his training to locate a missing worker on the ice roads in northwestern Ontario.

“We got to our second destination and then plotted our third point and got to the winter road and he was there, he was waiting for somebody to come and get him,” Beardy says.

The Rangers wrap up their training in Meaford on Friday, and then fly back to their communities on the weekend.