The man who founded the Edmonton Police Service Canine Unit has been immortalized in the city’s west end thanks to a letter written by a complete stranger.

Sgt. Maynard “Val” Vallevand’s name now represents the park that one of his biggest fans walks through daily.

Ruth Daney has lived in the area of 104A Avenue and 166 Street for 25 years and always wondered why other parks in the city had names and the one she lived by didn’t.

“I took a walk to other parks in the city, and I says [sic], ‘How come they got a sign and we haven’t?” she said.

Once Daney read about the sergeant and all he and his canine partner had done, she knew this park had to be named after him. She is known as a big supporter of the canine unit and its history.

“When I read and see his legacy, this place is him. Beautiful trees, he loved to paint; it just reflects the person that he was,” Daney continued.

Sgt. Vallevand pioneered the Edmonton’s first canine unit after he demonstrated his ability to use a dog to apprehend a suspect in a drug warehouse break and enter. This dog was Sarge, whose son, Monty, would also help the sergeant form the ‘Dog Squad’ and create a new way to fight crime.

The sergeant’s son, David Vallevand, says that his father would be very proud of the park, albeit a little bashful.

“He’d be just glowing, he’d be just beaming. This is amazing. This is fantastic. He’d probably be a little embarrassed and might have a couple of curse words but it’d be great,” he said.

And he is even more impressed about how this all came about.

“To have it come from a private citizen, who we know nothing about and never knew us, that makes it really special….That’s amazing. I’d never known her before today. She found out they did a comic on my dad and she saw this comic, and she was the big push, the big reason,” Val’s son said.

The sergeant passed away in 1994. The EPS honoured him and his many contributions by naming a kennel facility after him.

“His spirit lives on in the canine unit, and now his name will live on in the community as well,” said EPS Police Chief Rob Knecht.

With Files from Matt Woodman