The Ceremonial Guard

Backgrounder

July 6, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Public Duties

The Ceremonial Guard will perform the first Changing of the Guard ceremony for the 2017 season on the east lawn of Parliament Hill at 10 a.m. on July 10th, 2017. Originally scheduled to commence on July 7th, the event has been postponed to July 10th due to unexpected reparations required to the grounds of Parliament Hill.  

The Ceremonial Guard began posting sentries at the Residence of the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, David Johnston, on June 26th, 2017 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. The Changing of the Guard Ceremony is among Ottawa’s most recognized military traditions, and is a summer attraction that has welcomed thousands of visitors to Parliament Hill for more than 58 years. 

Composition of the Ceremonial Guard

The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of trained soldiers from both the Regular and Reserve forces, including members from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy. The Guard includes members from across the country, including over 86 Canadian Army units, 6 Royal Canadian Navy ships, and 6 Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons, with many members having served on overseas operations. A summer task at the Guard is a highly sought-after position, offering soldiers the opportunity to act as Canadian Armed Forces ambassadors and to demonstrate their excellence throughout the National Capital Region.

Training

Every guardsman or musician must complete at least a basic military qualification to wear the uniforms of either the Governor General’s Foot Guards or the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Upon arrival in Ottawa, the soldiers undergo training – including music rehearsals, inspections, and foot and rifle drills – leading up to the start of Public Duties. Public Duties are also physically demanding tasks that require members to be fit and active. This means that members are required to do continual fitness training in order to handle the rigours of their ceremonial duties.

Uniforms

Soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard come from many CAF units across the country, with the Guard continuing the individual traditions of Canada’s two Foot Guards regiments — The Governor General’s Foot Guards (GGFG) and the Canadian Grenadier Guards (CGG). Both units wear the bearskin hat, which was first adopted by the United Kingdom Grenadier Guards after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and later adopted by all Guards Regiments in 1831. The regiments are easily discernable by the coloured plume in the bearskin hat: red for Foot Guards and white for Grenadier Guards. All of the bearskin hats worn by the Ceremonial Guard are more than 20 years old and are well-maintained from the thorough care they have received over the decades.

Fortissimo

The Public Duties season includes the annual “Fortissimo” event, which will take place at 7:00 p.m. from July 20 to 22, 2017 on Parliament Hill. There will also be a full dress rehearsal open to the public at 7:00 p.m. on July 19, 2017. Fortissimo is a military and musical spectacular created for the lawns of Parliament Hill, featuring massed military bands, pipes and drums, guest performers and the soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard. It is a showcase event in the Nation's Capital that has drawn thousands of spectators since it began in 1997.

Associated Links

Canadian Army Links

Contacts

Devon Atherton
Ceremonial Guard Unit Public Affairs Officer
Phone: 343-998-4060
Email: Devon.Atherton@forces.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353
Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811
Email: mlo-blm@forces.gc.ca


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