A large geoglyph sprawled across Signal Hill in the midst of a southwest Calgary subdivision harkens back to the site's well-documented military history. Located beside the Westhills shopping complex, Battalion Park's 16,000 whitewashed stones signify the 137th, 113th, 151st and 51st battalions that used the lands as a First World War training ground.

An aerial look at the rock makings, image retrieved from Google Street View

The only area in the province dedicated to train soldiers for battle during the First World War, the Sarcee Indian Reserve leased part of their land in 1914 for use by the Canadian Militia. Sarcee Camp became the largest military training establishment in Canada during the war, with 30 units and over 45,000 men housed across a city of tents. 

One of the numerous training exercises required of the battalions involved hauling rocks from the riverbed to the camp over two kilometres away. To create a sense of self-identity, several military units assembled the rocks to form large-scale numerals of their battalion numbers. The Canadian Expeditionary Force, comprised of the 137th Infantry Battalion of Calgary, the 151st Central Alberta Battalion, and the 51st Canadian Infantry Battalion, were among the units who left their mark on the landscape. The 113th Lethbridge Highlands Infantry Battalion used painted rocks to identify their unit on Signal Hill.

Signal Hill, image by Flickr user eileenmak via Creative Commons

The stones were gradually enveloped in shrubs and grass once the battalions withdrew from the site until a local historian rediscovered the markings. A restoration initiative was launched and a commemorative park was installed at the site. Battalion Park opened on November 3, 1991. The rocks denoting the 113th Battalion have remained at the original location, while the clustered numerals 137, 151 and 51 were shifted to accommodate urban development and infrastructure work in the neighbourhood.

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