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Article / December 22, 2015 / Project number: 15-0228

Gatineau, Quebec—Once again this year, Santa Claus traded his eight reindeer for the horsepower of a G Wagon when he visited le Régiment de Hull in Gatineau, Quebec. In recent years, Santa began stopping by to see the children of the regimental family a few days before Christmas and he always brings his wonderful team of elves when he drops in at the Salaberry Armoury.

It is no coincidence that Santa’s pre-Christmas visits correspond with the arrival of a new regimental sergeant major. Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Heppell evidently has made many contacts through his civilian work in the Polar Continental Shelf Program at Natural Resources Canada. Capitalizing on the reservist reality, he serves as an intermediary between the North Pole and le Régiment de Hull.

Indeed, since his arrival, CWO Heppell also acts as a liaison with Mrs. Claus, who directs a venerable army of elves. It is certainly due to the support of these elves that our North Pole visitor can afford to spend a few hours with the children.

A burst of laughter announced Santa’s arrival at the regiment on Sunday, December 13, 2015. Strangely enough, Santa seemed a lot like Sergeant Daniel Montgomery, with the same playful smile and the same powerful “Ho, ho, ho,” the kind you can sometimes hear from a distance between the clouds in a Christmas night sky. Santa could have been the twin brother of the sergeant but it was impossible to compare them side-by-side as the sergeant was always bustling about somewhere else when Santa was around.

The elves were very busy during this Santa holiday visit. Used to being dressed in green, many members of the regiment effortlessly and temporarily exchanged their military uniforms for Santa’s little helper suits. Mrs. Sylvie Heppell, Captain Sophie Heppell, Master Corporal (Retired) Benoît Lefebvre, Master Corporal Valérie Caron, Master Corporal Marianne Pichette Master Corporal Jiangmi Mboumba-Hervé, Corporal Julie Barette, Trooper Valérie te Riel, Private Roxanne Cyr and Private Tiffany Gailloux formed Santa Claus’ devoted team this year.

As always, these elves spread Christmas magic around the children who gathered near the fireplace in the sitting room of the Salaberry officers’ mess. To the wonderment of the kids, Santa Claus’ questions seemed dangerously on target. Did they make their bed? Were they kind to their brothers and sisters? What did they want for Christmas?

It was an impressive scene, with Santa in front of the fireplace, Christmas decorations everywhere and hundreds of sparkly lights. A constant stream of efficient elves made their way between Santa and a group of hovering parents. In fact, it could have been mistaken for a military intelligence operation with the elves hurriedly moving between Santa and the parents and whispering inaudible words in his ear moments before each chat.

This wonderful tradition is likely to stay for many more years at le Régiment de Hull since Santa Claus seems to really appreciate the warm welcome the elves and children give him each year.

Who knows? He might even visit other units next year; although, this could mean that le Régiment de Hull might need some training on Santa’s sled if he is going to swap it for the G Wagon...

By Sergeant Marc-André Clément, Directorate Army Public Affairs

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