Guidons, Standards and Colours

Guidons, Standards and Colours, collectively referred to as Colours are one of the most prized possessions of Canadian Army Armoured and Infantry Regiments. They are consecrated flags offered to Units as symbols of honour, pride and devotion to Canada. The Guns of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery (the actual physical artillery weaponry) have traditionally been equivalent to Colours when they are on ceremonial parade.

When new Battle Honours are awarded, Regiments may choose to display them on the Colours. Battle Honours are given to Units in order to honour and recognize their participation in a Battle against another organized armed force.

History
Presentation of Colours to The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada by The Honourable Steven L. Point, Lieutenant Governor of B.C., held at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, Vancouver, B.C. on 27 November, 2010. Photo: Cpl Shirley Edel.

In British and Commonwealth traditions, beginning in the 17th century, their utilization was formalized with the adoption of regimental identities, which continued their usage to indicate the location of commanders and/or as rallying points. These are thought to be the origin of the Colours that we know today.

In the mid-18th century those flags, or “Stand of Colours,” were standardized and started to gain honorific significance when they were used as rallying points in the field of battle. A “Stand of Colours” was the term used to refer to the presentation of a Queen’s or King’s Colour and regimental Colour to Infantry Regiments. Cavalry Regiments either received a Standard or Guidon, depending on their role. 

Battle Honours were first displayed on Colours in the British Army when Infantry Regiments that had successfully defended Gibraltar from 1779 to 1783 were ordered to display the word “Gibraltar” on a scroll on their regimental Colours. Rules for displaying Battle Honours have evolved over time. It is up to the Regiments to select the Battle Honours they wish to display on their Colours. Following the First and Second World Wars, Regiments could select 10 honours from each conflict that best reflected their contributions.  Since few Battle Honours had been awarded for all other conflicts, there were no limits placed on the number that could be displayed.

Today’s Colours are not used in warzones but have become honorific symbols representing the bravery, history, and pride of Units. They embody the spirit and history of not only the Units but the Canadian Armed Forces and Canada.

Upcoming Presentations of Colours

On presentation, Colours are consecrated by the Chaplain General or their designate assisted by the Unit’s Chaplains. Through this consecration, Colours are devoted to service as symbols of honour and duty; all members of the Unit, regardless of classification, rededicate themselves to constancy in the maintenance of these qualities. Once officially presented, Colours are closely guarded and mark and identify the Unit concerned.

The Battle Honour “Afghanistan” will be displayed on the new Colours for the first time, allowing these Regiments to mark this important chapter of the Units’ histories. This year is also unique due to the Enthronement (unveiling) of Batisse XII, a Persian Goat who is the Regimental Mascot of the 2e Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment.

In 2022, five presentations of Colours will be held within the following Units:

Note:  Make sure to consult this page frequently as the dates of the Presentations of Colours are subject to changes.

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