Home Experience Simcoe County Amber Boies PSP Has a Grandfather and His Name Is PERI

PSP Has a Grandfather and His Name Is PERI

Uniform worn by PERI members (Emily Nakeff/Borden Citizen)

Physical Education and Recreation Instructors (PERI) was the predecessor of the well-known PSP

Personnel Support Programs (PSP) is a well known organization amongst members on Base Borden, but many are not familiar with its predecessor, Physical Education and Recreation Instructors (PERI). PERI was a branch responsible for prompting and providing physical fitness and recreation.

While the branch was officially established on 5 December, 1980, this trade has a long history. Prior to the establishment of  PERI, there existed physical education programs and physical education instructors who taught them. There was a different type of physical recreation instructor for the Army, Navy and Air Force. With the establishment of PERI these physical education programs were combined and all instructors became part of the PERI trade.

The PERI uniforms were unique, consisting of a white v-neck knit sweater with blue stripes around the neck. Underneath was a white t-shirt that featured their rank printed on the right shoulder. In other versions, the PERI qualification badge, which depicted the silhouette of a person against a red maple leaf, was printed on the front. Additionally, they wore blue pants or, in the gym, white shorts with stripes down the side.

Shoes members wore were often referred to by CF members as ‘manglers’ due to the way the sneakers mangled their feet. PERI even developed special issued swimsuits with instructors wearing dark blue swimsuits and recruits in grey ones. It is important to note that there were many different versions of their uniform over the course of the PERI branch’s existence.

Shorts worn by PERI members in the gym (Amber Boies/Borden Citizen)

The motto of the PERI branch was “Mens Sana in Corpore Sano”, which translates to “A sound mind in a healthy body”. Bob Latreille, who spent 31 years serving as a PERI, is quoted in an article by eVERITAS as saying, “I could write a book about life based on that motto. I always cherished and lived by that motto, which continues to motivate me. At 69 years old, I still workout. I don’t feel my age and I don’t act my age,” Latreille said, chuckling.“The branch motto means, keep on living, take each day one at a time.”

The branch badge has a blue background with five red circles placed behind a phoenix. According to the website thenewperiscope.com the interlocked circles are representative of attributes that comprise an individual’s well being. These attributes are physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Physical education was one of PERI’s main responsibilities and the rings symbolize the organization’s commitment to that mission.

Swimsuit worn by recruits (Amber Boies/Borden Citizen)

The Phoenix is a mythical creature capable of being reborn from its own ashes with new health, youth, and strength. In other words, the Phoenix can recreate itself from the ashes and represents a connection with the word recreation which PERI also had a great responsibility for.

The PERI branch was disbanded on 31 March, 1997, but its values continue to live on within PSP.

Many pieces of Canadian history can be seen at the Base Borden Military Museum which is open with free admission from Monday to Friday from 0900 to 1500 hrs and from 1000 to 1600 hrs on Saturday and Sunday. 

BY: Amber Boies

This article is part of a series made possible by Simcoe County Tourism. Follow #ExperienceSimcoeCounty to learn more about what Base Borden has to offer for the military and civilian community!