CDS joins 50th anniversary celebrations at CANEX Supermart

CANEX turned 50 this year and to mark this incredible achievement, Garrison Petawawa CANEX Supermart welcomed special guests on Sept. 5 including Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance for a special anmiversary celebration. Cutting the cake to help mark the milestone are, from left, Senior VP Commercial Services Larry Mohr, 4th Canadian Division Support Base Petawawa Operations Services Regimental Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Lindsay Parsons, Director General of Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) Commodore Sean Cantelon, General Vance, Army Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, 4th Canadian Division Support Group Commander Colonel Louis Lapointe, Senior VP Commercial Services Kathy Linkletter and CFMWS Chief Warrant Officer Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Lucie Simpson. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

Top-ranking members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) helped mark the 50th aniversary of CANEX at a special celebration hosted by the Garrison Petawawa CANEX Supermart.

The new CANEX Supermart concept was first unrolled locally, a large store re-engineered to offer a more comprehensive shopping experience. This superstore concept is the new CANEX footprint moving forward.

“To have been the flagship Supermart for CANEX has been a privilege,” said 4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG) Commander Colonel (Col) Louis Lapointe. “And to also have been the store to hallmark CANEX’s 50th anniversary has also been a very big privilege. We are very proud.”

Special guests at the Sept. 5 event included General (Gen) Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), and Director General of Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) Commodore (Cmdre) Sean Cantelon. Both toured the massive superstore to admire the larger selections of goods and services, now in one location.

Gen Vance grew up the child of military members and fondly remembers CANEX and just how much of an essential part of the community it was. Though with time, military families have also turned to the town for their needs, CANEX is often one of their first stops for purchases, big and small.

“You’ll have no greater champion than myself and the team to try and bring back this incredible notion of the military community,” said Gen Vance.

“I’m very happy that we have such a high quality (store),” he added. “It’s a sign of respect for our families.”

Director General of Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) Commodore Sean Cantelon (left) shakes the hand of General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, as he enters the CANEX Supermart during the Sept. 5 celebrations. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

He hopes to see the supermart concept grow across Canada. The 45,000-square-foot modern and energy-efficient building has both the CANEX Retail and Grocery stores within it as well as a Canada Post outlet, SISIP Financial office, Bank of Montreal (BMO) Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), CANEX Barber Shop, CANEX Plaza Chiropractic, Subway, and Service Ontario.

“Right now, I think we have the best setup and best place ever to continue to serve our members and to give back to the community,” noted Col Lapointe.

Having those products and services under one roof provides a certain level of stability and ease to military families, especially when a partner is away on deployment.

The fact that CANEX continues to serve, thrive and grow in a world where many big stores have been closing down is a testament to its usefulness to CAF members, their families, and the greater community.

“Fifty years of retail services is no small feat,” said Cmdre Cantelon.

“But it is not only the past 50 years but the next 50 years that this store represents; reinvesting in the military community and giving that back,” he added, noting that in the past decade about $30 million has been invested back into communities across the nation.

The Supermart officially opened its doors on April 28, 2017, at its new location on the grounds of the former General Panet High School and across from the original CANEX. It was under construction for about two years, and cost approximately $14 million to build. It was the first of its type, and it is the largest Capital Project funded by Non-Public Property (NPP) to date.

“I really appreciate the dedication to doing something of this high quality,” added Gen Vance. “Let’s make this enterprise across Canada and where we are posted in large numbers around the world, let’s put it offshore too.”