Official Lineages, Volume 3: Armour, Artillery, Field Engineer and Infantry Regiments

Introduction to the history of Canadian Army regiments as of February 22, 2006.

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The Canadian Forces

Canadian army field units are conventionally divided between those whose role is to do battle with an enemy, the "arms," and those whose task is to support the fighting units, the "services." The former is divided into the "manoeuvre arms" (armour, infantry and aviation), and the "support arms" (artillery, field engineers, signals, intelligence and military police). The latter are defined as "support services" (medical, dental, logistics, electrical and mechanical engineers, and personnel support). All arms and services are essential for success. In the end, however, the fighting arms win or lose battles.1

In the modern Canadian Forces, the term "regiment" has several meanings. In the Armour Branch, a regiment is a battalion-sized organization, although it may have both Regular and Reserve components. (In Canadian usage, the Reserve Force of the army is informally titled as the "Militia"). The entire artillery is titled as "The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery," with battalion-sized units within the artillery also being called regiments. The field engineers are the army component of the Military Engineering Branch, and their regiments are battalion-sized organizations. An infantry regiment is an administrative organization that raises one or more battalions for battle. Regiments also exist, as battalion-sized organizations, outside the fighting arms, although these are not recorded in this volume.

Although there were, in every generation, inhabitants in Canada who saw military service, this book only concerns itself with, in the strictest sense, regiments. It is not an account of individuals or the communities from which they came but rather an account of the official raising of units by the Government of Canada. Regiments may draw upon the heritage and traditions of their forefathers but this does not affect the lineage of their regiment.


In the distant past, troops were assembled in companies of soldiers under a captain, or leader. Companies were grouped in battalions for battle, and these became standardized as armies grew in size and complexity. Eventually, battalions were organized and numbered or titled as regiments for recruiting, training and mobilization purposes. The regiment thus became, and remains, the centre of identity for soldiers, the "family" to which each belongs.

The first battalion-sized units in Canada were French Army regulars, or troupes de terre, despatched for colonial service by King Louis XIV in 1665. The Régiment de Cardignan-Salières, under the command of Alexandre de Pouville, Marquis de Tracy, returned to France in 1668 but a number of officers and men remained in the colony as settlers. They formed an important nucleus for the militia that was officially organized in 1669. With few exceptions, males between the ages of 16 and 60 were organized into companies and assembled once a month for drill, but this levée en masse had limited value in battle. It was not until 1755, when six battalions of the French army arrived (two additional battalions arrived in 1757), that regular forces returned to Canada. In addition to the regular units of the French army, there were 40 full-time independent infantry companies - les Compagnies franches de la Marine or Troupes de la Marine - formed by the Minister of Marine, the government official responsible for both the colonies and the navy. These companies had their later equivalents under British colonial administration - professional fencible units raised for local service. All these units belonged to the Regular order of battle of either France or Britain.

Copying military organizational developments on the European continent, the Parliament of England officially established a standing army in 1661. Prior to this date, the King warranted gentlemen to raise companies, a throw back to feudal times when lords were required to raise quotas of soldiers. From the Commonwealth perspective, this is the origin of the regimental system.

Militia Acts were passed in the colony of Nova Scotia in 1758, the Province of New Brunswick in 1787, and in both Upper and Lower Canada in 1793. In practice, however, compulsory service in peace was limited to one or two days of muster annually. During the War of 1812, units of British regulars and fencibles who were colonial regulars did much of the fighting. Volunteers who had enlisted for eighteen months or the duration of the war supported these forces. The volunteers were embodied in the Militia and administratively grouped into battalions as required for wartime service. Although these battalions were disbanded after their services were no longer required, they can be considered as the forerunners of the regiments of today.

The tiny volunteer force created by the Militia Act of 1855, which came into effect on 1 July of that year, for the Province of Canada is the immediate origin of Canada's army regiments. However, no regiment carries an organization date of 1855 for the 22 volunteer units formed under the Act of that year were all independent companies. This Act divided the Provincial Militia into two classes, "Sedentary" and "Active." The Sedentary Militia consisted of all male inhabitants aged 18 to 60. The Sedentary Militia was further sub-divided into two classes called "Service men" (18 to and less than 40 years of age) and "Reserve men" (40 to and less than 60 years of age). In time of peace, no actual service or drill was required of the Sedentary Militia other than an annual muster parade. The Active Militia consisted of volunteer troops of cavalry, field batteries and foot companies of artillery, companies of infantry armed as riflemen, volunteer marine companies and volunteer companies of engineers. The volunteer companies of the Active Militia were liable for paid service, depending on type, for annual drill from 10 to 20 days, of which 10 had to be continuous (Sundays not included). Companies could be assembled or be ordered out for additional unpaid service by the officer commanding. The first duly authorized battalion of the Active Militia was the "Montreal Light Infantry" which was formed on 30 October 1856. This battalion was a Sedentary Militia unit that was embodied as a "Class B" volunteer unit, which meant that its soldiers were not paid for their services. It was disbanded in 1868. No other battalion was created until 1859 when the "First Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada" (now The Canadian Grenadier Guards) were authorized.

The provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick entered into Confederation on 1 July 1867 and federal authorities automatically assumed responsibility for the defence of the new country. On 22 May 1868, an Act respecting the Militia Defence of the Dominion of Canada was passed, based to a large extent on the 1855 Act, and the existing units in the new provinces were required to re-enrol within three months. Those regiments and companies that did re-enrol were credited with their existing lineage. Units that did not meet the criteria for re-enrolment automatically ceased to exist. The "Reserve Militia" was merely a new name for the traditional sedentary militia in which most physically fit males aged 18-60 were obligated to serve if called upon. The Active Militia had three components: a "Volunteer Militia" which consisted of units of cavalry, artillery and infantry that trained on a part time basis; a "Regular Militia" that might be formed from men who, in the event of an emergency, either volunteered or were balloted for service; and a "Marine Militia" which consisted of companies of seaman, sailors and persons employed navigating the lakes or waters of the Dominion. A small number of Marine Militia companies were formed as early as 1862 in communities on the shores of Lake Ontario.

On 20 October 1871, the government authorized the raising and maintaining of two small batteries of artillery organized on a full time basis at Kingston and Quebec City to take over installations vacated by the British Army and to serve as gunnery schools for the Militia.

A new Militia Act was adopted on 25 May 1883 but, unlike the Act of 1868, every corps of the Active Militia duly authorized previous to and existing on the day on which the Act came into force was held to be existing and was continued as such without the requirement to re-enrol. Similar to the previous Act, the new regulations detailed an Active Militia component consisting of the "Active Militia - Land Force" and the "Active Militia - Marine Force." There was also an unorganized Reserve Militia component provided for both the Land and Marine Force. The Marine Force, while still the responsibility of the Militia, ceased to have active units prior to the coming into force of this Act. The few struggling companies of Marine Militia had long since vanished, interest having dwindled as rapidly as American-British-Canadian relations had improved. The last such company, the "Bonaventure Marine Company", was disbanded on 19 July 1878. The Act allowed for Active Militia corps to be raised by volunteer enlistment and men balloted to serve. It consisted of regiments and troops of cavalry, regiments and field batteries of artillery, companies of mounted infantry, companies of engineers, regiments and batteries of garrison artillery, battalions and companies of infantry, and naval and marine corps. The Act also allowed for the establishment of forces for "continuous service," which were deemed to be "called out on active service" for the care and protection of forts, magazines, armaments, warlike stores and such like service and also to secure the establishment of "Schools for Military Instruction." In addition to the "ordinary Active Militia Force," one troop of cavalry, three batteries of artillery (which included the existing "A" and "B" Batteries - "C" Battery was not authorized until 1887), and three companies of infantry were authorized to be formed. The result was a permanent force, but there were no supporting services to give it even the semblance of a field army and most politicians envisaged its principal employment, apart from training militiamen, as providing aid to the civil power in possible industrial disputes between capital and labour. The units raised for continuous service were referred to as "Permanent corps" from the early 1880s and collectively referred to as the "Permanent Force" from 1892.

In 1904, after a series of confrontations between British general officers commanding the Canadian Militia and the Minister of Militia and Defence, and a desire to modernize and resolve civil-military tensions that also existed at the time in Britain, the Militia Act of 1904 set up a "chief of general staff system" and an advisory committee called the "Militia Council," consisting of senior government and military officials. The Dominion assumed responsibility for the entire defence of the country and an increase to the Permanent Force was authorized from 1,245 to 3,970 to replace the British garrison at Halifax. In an amendment issued on 17 December 1921, the sub-components of the Active Militia were designated as the "Permanent Active Militia" and "Non-Permanent Active Militia." The Reserve Militia was still unorganized, although a list of officers was maintained.

During the First World War plans were formulated to revitalize the Militia. In practical terms there existed two separate and distinct Canadian armies, the Militia in Canada and the Expeditionary Force overseas. By 1920, and after considerable political pressure, a compromise was reached which allowed for the maintenance of the traditions of Militia regiments while incorporating the experience of the overseas veterans and the honours which their fighting battalions earned on the field of battle. All Militia regiments and units were, over time, "disbanded for the purposes of reorganization" and immediately reorganized the same or following day. This allowed the newly appointed commanding officer, "preferably with war service," to submit for approval a new slate of officers with due regard to war service, previous militia service and qualifications. Officers not receiving appointments were transferred to another unit, appointed to the Corps Reserve or to the Reserve of Officers of the unit, or retired. For soldiers, the order cleared the situation, rendering free action possible in making new appointments by automatically discharging all Militia soldiers and filling the ranks with soldiers with overseas experience.2 Furthermore, the 'new' Militia regiments incorporated the identity of the disbanded Expeditionary Force units through the use of secondary titles and the perpetuation of their honours.

The 1922 National Defence Act brought the Militia, the Naval Service, and the Canadian Air Force together under the Department of National Defence and in 1924 the Militia Council was redesignated the "Defence Council" with an increased representation from all services.

The definition of the term 'corps' evolved over time in the army. As early as the Militia Act of 1883, "Corps, for the purpose of the Act, (included) any Field Battery, Brigade, or Battery of Artillery, Troop of Cavalry, or any Company, Battalion, or Regiment." As the structure of the army changed, the term became a corporate designation to describe the units and members comprising an arm or service within the Canadian army.

The term "The Canadian Army" came into use on 7 November 1940, with all personnel and units placed on Active Service or embodied for continuous service being designated as "Active" and all other formations, units and personnel as "Reserve." Although artillery and engineer units were collectively grouped into single corps in 1883 and 1903 respectively, the "Canadian Armoured Corps" was not formed until 1940 and the "Canadian Infantry Corps" in 1942. During the Second World War these new corps comprised those units placed on Active Service, which allowed soldiers to be posted within their Corps as the exigencies of the Service required. Thus, units placed on Active Service no longer retained the status of separate corps formerly held by them in the Active Militia. Interestingly, six regiments, The Essex Regiment (Tank) (now titled The Windsor Regiment (RCAC)), The Ontario Regiment (Tank) (now titled The Ontario Regiment (RCAC), The Three Rivers Regiment (Tank) (now titled 12e Regiment blindé du Canada), The Argyll Light Infantry (Tank) (now part of The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment), The New Brunswick Regiment (Tank) (disbanded as the 64th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (New Brunswick Regiment), RCA) and The Calgary Regiment (Tank) (now titled The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC)) were classified as infantry from 1936 until their allocation to the Canadian Armoured Corps. By 1946 all Reserve cavalry and infantry regiments were allocated to the new corps.

The constitution of the Canadian Army, as detailed in the National Defence Act of 1950, now comprised three components: "regular forces"; "reserve forces"; and "active special forces." In 1954, these components were redesignated: "Canadian Army (Regular)," which included personnel embodied for continuous, full-time military service; "Reserves"; and "Active Service Force," which during times of emergency or in support of international agreements included Regular and Reserve personnel placed on active service and personnel enrolled in active service forces. The Reserves comprised the following sub-components: "Canadian Army (Militia)" - enrolled for other than full-time service; "Regular Reserve" - former serving men of the Regular Force volunteering to be held in readiness for active service and for annual training as required; "Supplementary Reserve" - former serving officers and men not required to perform duty or training; Canadian Officer's Training Corps" - officers undergoing training and officers required to instruct them; Cadet Services of Canada - officers required to instruct Royal Canadian Army Cadets; and "Reserve Militia" - officers, men and civilians volunteering to serve in the event of an emergency.

On 1 February 1968, the three armed services of Her Majesty's Canadian Forces (Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force) were unified into one service called the "Canadian Armed Forces."3 The components of the Canadian Forces are the "Regular Force", the "Reserve Force" and the "Special Force." As detailed in the Queen's Regulation and Orders for the Canadian Forces, the sub-components of the Reserve Force are the Primary Reserve, the Supplementary Reserve, the Cadet Instructors Cadre and the Canadian Rangers. The new entity then restructured itself to place all its components on a common basis. In the process the old arm and services corps became obsolete and were amalgamated into the new Canadian Forces personnel branches as they were formed. Although the personnel management structure of the army changed, the regimental system was maintained.

The Artillery Branch has the unique distinction of also being designated as a regiment, "The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery." Although there were a few battalions or regiments formed in the early years, Canadian artillery batteries were mostly brigaded as necessary. In time the brigades became semi-permanent, but they were not designated as "regiments" until the beginning of the Second World War. Until the late 1930s, the British artillery "Regiment" was the whole "corps" - designated the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1722 - and this conceptual approach was adopted in Canada in 1956 as part of our British heritage. Thus, for these traditional purposes the artillery, is considered to be a single regiment, composed in the main of battalion-sized units which are themselves coincidentally called "regiments".

The official badge

A heraldic or official badge is a distinctive sign, symbol or emblem used to visually identify a military organization and foster the pride and cohesiveness necessary for operational effectiveness. It is a regiment's or branch's principal visual identifier and is an integral part of the everyday life of soldiers. They wear it on head dress, they use it on drums, camp flags, invitations, and the like, and it is prominently displayed at various locations throughout the unit's lines.

Heraldry was a European phenomenon that originated in the 12th Century during medieval tournaments when 'heralds' were responsible for the ceremonial aspects of marshalling and announcing combatants. As the faces of the participants were hidden underneath their helmets, they could only be identified through their armorial markings. Over time, the heralds, on behalf of the kings and princes, became the acknowledged authority by making note of these markings, registering them to ensure that they were unique and formulating rules and regulations for their use. The language used to describe regimental badges is 'heraldic'. It traces its roots to the Anglo-French in use during the early years of heraldry and the gradual alterations resulting from the adoption of various words and syntax to aid in the descriptions.

The development of regimental badges draws upon both primitive and civilized origins. A case can be made that devices were employed to achieve distinction between opposing armies through the use of objects to differentiate between friend and foe such as the painting of the body or object on clothing and the placement of such items as twigs, scarves or the leaders' identifying device upon the person. Conversely, theorists make a strong case that the adoption of badges was meant to strike terror into enemies and to satisfy an individual's warlike vanity. In either case, in Europe, governments did not always clothe soldiers and there is very little evidence as to the 'uniformity' of dress in the early records. Perhaps, the first English instance appears in the year 1337 when Edward III raised a thousand men and clothed them at the expense of the crown. Later, in 1385, Richard II issued an Article of War in which he states: "Every man of what estate, condition or nation he may be, so that he be of our party, shall wear a large sign of the Arms of St. George before and another behind, upon peril that if he be hurt or slain in default thereof, he who shall hurt or slay him shall no penalty pay for it; and that no enemy shall bear the said sign of St. George whether he be a prisoner or otherwise, upon pain of death."4

By the 16th and early 17th Century there was definite written evidence of the use of private badges to provide unit distinction. In 1512, Henry VIII issued the following direction: "And ye then to deliver, for us, and in our name, to every of our subjects to be retained in your company, such badges, tokens, or liveries to wear, as by you shall be thought most convenient for the same, which we will they shall wear for the same purpose." In 1639, Robert Ward, in his Animadversions of War, states "he ought to have all the Colours of his Regiment to be alike both in colour and fashion to avoid confusion so that the soldiers may discern their own Regiment from the other troops, likewise every particular Captain of his Regiment may have some small distinctions in their Colours, as their Arm, or some emblem, or the like so that one Company may be discerned from another."

In a Royal Warrant issued by George II in 1751, the practice of using private badges - the Colonel of the regiment's - was stopped. The warrant also gives the first mention of standardized badges for wear on caps for guards regiments. This is where the modern form of a regimental cap badge originates and because of these origins, most regimental hat badges were of plain, uncoloured metal and heraldically described as such.

Our customs and traditions are preserved in the badges of the Canadian army. Of necessity, there are constant changes in the role of our military forces and the uniforms that they wear in which to train and fight. The continuity of our dress distinctions - and regimental titles - provides a constant source of pride and a tangible connection with our long military history. The devices incorporated into our regimental badges are replete with symbols of our society. From the gold fleur-de-lis of the French Crown, to provincial coats-of-arms, to maple leaves, to beavers and to the Crown of our Sovereign, these symbols communicate the essence of our nation and the patriotism of our soldiers. To paraphrase Thomas J. Edwards in his book Military Customs, they are the basis of that potent driving force in the army - esprit de corps.

Since 1968, it has become convention to colourise emblazonments of badges. This practice started with the badges of Canadian Forces Branches and 12e Régiment blindé du Canada whose hat badges were made of metal and enamel. Although the reigning monarch continues to approve all badge paintings which incorporate a royal device, the Governor General now approves all other paintings with the Inspector of Canadian Forces Colours and Badges being responsible for the staffing of all badges and the authentication and approval of sealed patterns. These emblazonments are now the official designs and are illustrated in this volume. In 2005, the heraldic descriptions and symbolisms of these colourized badges were described and approved by the Chief Herald of Canada, through the office of the Governor General, in the modern "Canadian style."

Badges worn on uniforms are approved and issued in metal; however, regiments may produce their cap badge in appropriately coloured thread. Similarly, a badge may vary according to rank while remaining the same for design purposes. For example, officers' badges may reverse the colours for bi metal badges, be of finer quality (gold instead of brass), or be of finer detail.


Mottoes are connected with heraldry and have the same origins as coats of arms. While a knight painted his arms on his shield and other items to identify him, mottoes originated as a battle cry to rally his men, or as a maxim to express a sentiment or principle of conduct. They were associated with the individuals or units who created them, and, thus, became part of family custom and identity. Mottoes are often borne on badges, but the two are separate customs. A unit may have a motto without a badge, and, except for those badges whose design necessarily includes a motto, a badge without a motto.

Mottoes are a single word or sentence and may be in any single language. (A bilingual motto fails as a simple, all-purpose, rallying cry) and the choice is that of the unit concerned. As a general rule, mottoes are meant to appeal to patriotism or descriptions of character and they differ from the ancient religious or patriotic cries, or sentiments, from the fact that they are always written. Furthermore, hereditary mottoes did not become commonplace until the beginning of the 12th Century when family or surnames came into widespread usage. Latin is most often the language of choice as its roots as a classical language give it a noble cachet and its suitability in a bilingual country. In any case, mottoes are always translated into English and French for the record and to ensure common understanding.


As early as the 18th Century, the Prussian Army systematically assigned march compositions to regiments as musical identifiers. With varying degrees of formality or regulation, units in other nations' armies were identifying with particular songs and tunes played on fifes or bagpipes or by the small wind bands then extant. Nineteenth Century improvements in the military (brass-reed) band accelerated the acquisition of unit signature tunes - from a variety of sources. Some by virtue of words or tune favoured by soldiers were obvious choices, while in other cases, no doubt, commanders, or their spouses, or bandmasters had much say in the matter. Thus, it was not unheard of for a unit to change its tune every now and then.

Although march selection was usually left to the unit, specific marches could be arbitrarily assigned systematically to similar type regiments. In the British Army, organizations that had worked with explosives and wore grenades as insignia marched past to "British Grenadiers." At one time, all highland regiments were expected to march past to "Highland Laddie." While resigned to its adoption, by order, the highland regiments clung to tunes that had become theirs by right of usage, so that while the official quickstep was played, there were other tunes that were even more highly prized because they had the originality which the ordered march lacked.

While the popular use of regional folk tunes/songs is obvious, opera has inspired the selection of unit marches, particularly slow marches. Cavalry regiments used the latter as unit identifiers for the "walk past." Movement at faster speeds (trots and canters/gallops) was executed to the music published on the standard march past card, e.g., "Keel Row" and "Bonnie Dundee." Mounted units did not officially use quick marches until the retirement of the horse brought about a requirement for their use.

In Canada, the present authorized march system has existed only since 1950. An earlier attempt to compile and authorize regimental marches appeared in Militia Order No.32 of March 10, 1899: "It is essential that each regiment of Cavalry and Battalion have a Regimental March." At the time, Canadian cavalry regiments had establishments for trumpeters, but not for brass-reed bands. During Reviews at summer camps infantry bands were expected to play the appropriate marches for all participating units. The march titles eventually submitted to Headquarters were an eclectic lot. The rationale for their adoption is long forgotten, and some of the titles are virtually unknown today. Some may have been fife or pipe tunes, while others were simply borrowed from the standard march cards mentioned above. At the time, Canadian cavalry regiments had establishments for trumpeters, but not for brass-reed bands. Apparently, some units had not been using music for unit identification, and colonels and bandmasters were set scrambling to come up with something suitable.

Although the Adjutant General approved marches from time to time, if requests were considered to be in accordance with traditional rights and customs, no further attempt was made to compile comprehensive and official listing of regiments' marches for another four decades. During the Second World War, the British Broadcasting Corporation had asked for a listing of Canadian regimental marches so that they might be played over the radio. The call went out to fill in the gaps, but it was wartime, and notwithstanding the values of unit marches, units had other things to think about. The creation of the current regulation and listing of authorized marches and its continuity dates from 1950, when marches were promulgated in Canadian Army Order 175 of 1950. Many of the earlier selections had apparently not stood the test of time. In the interim, some units and corps had been allowed to adopt the marches of their alliance partners in the British Army.

Official marches symbolize identity and are the musical identifiers of regiments and branches. As signature tunes, they are individually authorized and regulated to ensure that their meaning is clear to all. Each regiment is authorized a quick march and may be authorized a slow march if it can establish a traditional right to and continual usage of such a march or, for rifle regiments a double past. Regiments that already have additional marches authorized for special occasions, e.g., mounted parades or within regiments, separate battalion marches, may continue their use. Such multiple marches are no longer authorized. Branch marches apply to all units within each branch. Except for The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and armour and infantry regiments, no other marches are authorized for units of the same branch, as this reduces the ability to use marches for musical identification.

Alliances and affiliations

Alliances, which are approved by the Sovereign, are formal links with a partner regiment in a Commonwealth country. Affiliations, approved by the Chief of the Defence Staff are similar links between two Canadian units.

Although the practice of forming alliances with other units is now practised throughout the Commonwealth, the idea originated in Canada in 1903 with Major-General the Earl of Dundonald, the General Officer Commanding the Canadian Militia. His thoughts were to foster esprit de corps and comradeship at the regimental and national level. Additionally, he foresaw other mutual benefits such as the provision of qualified British instructors, exchanges of officers and to provide a social link for ex-British Army soldiers emigrating to Canada. The first such alliance, between the 48th Highlanders and The Gordon Highlanders, was formally sanctioned by His Majesty King Edward VII in 1904.

Battle honours

Battle honours, or honorary distinctions as they used to be called, are awarded to provide public recognition and to record a combatant unit's active participation in battle against a formed and armed enemy. Combatant units are units whose purpose is to close with and defeat, neutralize or destroy the enemy as an effective fighting force. For these purposes, army combatant units are further defined as the Artillery and Military Engineering branches as a whole, along with armour and infantry regiments. The term "honorary distinction" is now applied only to those few badges or other devices specifically awarded as special marks to honour operational activity or experience which lie outside the norms recognized by battle honours.

Artillery units (i.e., The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery) and Military Engineering Branch units (successor to the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers) have no individual battle honours, but instead use the motto "UBIQUE," meaning "everywhere." This was awarded as an honorary distinction to "take the place of all past and future battle honours and distinctions gained in the field." Several other honorary distinctions have been awarded to individual regiments, principally emblazoned badges carried on their Colours but uniform badges have also been awarded. However, not all badges on Colours are honorary distinctions.

All battle honours are considered equal and are therefore listed in the chronological order in which they were won by the regiments concerned. Battle honours printed in upper case indicate those awarded for participation in large operations and campaigns (for example, HILL 70 or THE RHINE), while those in lowercase indicate honours granted for more specific battles (for example, Passchendaele or Ortona). A battle honour in bold type indicates one authorized to be emblazoned on regimental Colours or appointments such as the cap badges of rifle regiments and full dress items such as shoulder belt plates. Originally, all honours could be displayed, but the number won in the lengthy campaigns of the First World War led to limits on the number which can now be emblazoned on these particular items (a maximum of ten each for the First and Second World Wars, plus additional honours for other campaigns). Elsewhere, if space permits, all authorized honours can be displayed, e.g., on parade drum shells.

The Canadian Forces battle honours system draws on the rich heritage of the British forces. British battle honours originated with the army, which granted its first honorary distinction in 1695 to the 18th Regiment of Foot (disbanded as The Royal Irish Regiment in 1922) who were awarded a badge, the lion of Nassau and the motto "Virtutis Namurcensis Proemium" (The reward of valour at Namur), by King William III for valour at the siege of Namur, Belgium. The first regiment to be awarded a battle honour in the form of a named action to be emblazoned on a Colour was to the 15th Light Dragoons (now The Light Dragoons) who received the honour "Emsdorf" in 1768 for the part they played in defeating a French force in 1760 during the Seven Years War. Subsequently, regiments made claims and received honours for earlier battles. Several military honours were granted for actions which occurred in Canada during the 18th and early 19th Centuries, such as "Louisburg, 1758" and "Quebec, 1759". The only honour to be awarded to a wholly Canadian regiment not on the British Order of Battle during this period was the honour "NIAGARA" awarded to the Battalion of Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada (raised in 1813 and disbanded in 1815) in 1821 for their service during the War of 1812.

Prior to Confederation, British authorities were responsible for the award of battle honours to 'Canadian' units. After Confederation, the Canadian Militia decided on and allocated honours to its own regiments. The first regiment to be awarded a Canadian battle honour was the 60th "Missisquoi" Battalion of Infantry (disbanded in 1898) who were given the honour "Eccles Hill" for service during the Fenian Raids of 1870. This honour is still carried by a Canadian regiment, although this unit, The Victoria Rifles of Canada, is now dormant on the Supplementary Order of Battle. The oldest honours won by active Canadian units are for the North West Rebellion of 1885. From the First World War to the amalgamation of the CF, the army has subscribed to common battle honour lists developed by British Army committees, which included Canadian representatives, for imperial or Commonwealth contingents. Canadian authorities then assessed and allocated individual honours from these lists to our regiments.

Award conditions have evolved from time to time to cater to circumstances presented by each war. The basic principle, however, has remained constant: to publicly commemorate a battle or campaign, the memory of which will be a constant source of pride for the unit involved. Other fundamental principles are to: give just recognition for outstanding achievement in battle; avoid cheapening awards by over-generous recommendations; keep the relative size of the operational commitment and the combat conditions of a war or campaign in perspective when assigning the type and number of awards; and ensure that all eligible units which honourably participated in an action being commemorated are recognized equally as comrades-in-arms.


A Canadian Forces regiment remains a family of soldiers. Its life-line, or official lineage, begins with its creation as a battalion-sized unit, that is, an organization composed of two or more squadrons, batteries, companies or a headquarters with allocated sub-units. Regimental lineage does not start on the date of formation of its oldest component part and like any 'family' it requires unbroken service to maintain its lifeline. After disbandment, a regiment ceases to exist. Any unit later reconstituted which has continuity in name, number, territory or demography nevertheless does not imply lineal descent of the former regiment; it is a new family. The authority to authorize the formation, disbandment and embodiment of a unit is the prerogative of the Minister of National Defence.

Regiments often undergo title changes, sometimes to their chagrin. Normally, changes occur during a force restructure when units are amalgamated or converted to another arm. Some title changes are simply made to clarify a unit's role. An example of this would be the use of "(RCAC)," now an historical marker, after armour regiment titles to identify units without a cavalry background or a traditional cavalry/armour title, e.g., hussars, dragoons, etc. On rare occasions, regiments may be granted a Royal title or secondary title in recognition of exemplary service. Collectively, changes have taken place to differentiate units from another arm, such as the inclusion of the word 'artillery' and 'engineer'.

Except for a few limited exemptions, official language policy requires that the nomenclature of Canadian Forces units be bilingual. The proper names of units of historic or symbolic significance are not subject to change, other than those words in a title that do not form part of the proper name. Units can waive the exemption to accord with their membership and heritage. However, once the bilingual title has been officially approved, the organization cannot revert to a unilingual title at a later date. Units and organizations that were disbanded or placed on the Supplementary Order of Battle prior to the institution of this policy are not subject to retroactive translation of titles and all units and organizations formed after the policy came into effect must have a bilingual title. The reader will note certain inconsistency in the French translation of unit titles. A case in point would be the translation of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment and the 2nd Field Engineer Regiment which are both translated as 2e Régiment du génie. In time, this administrative oversight will be corrected.

The charts contained in this publication are not listed in order of precedence. Rather, for ease of reading and searching, they are listed in numeric-alphabetical order. For detailed information on precedence of regiments consult Annex 1C and A-AD-200-000/AG-000, The Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces.

Where applicable, the date of authorization and the initial title of the independent sub-units that were grouped or brigaded to form a regiment are provided in the endnotes.

Where a regiment is reorganized as a sub-unit, it maintains its lineage from the first date it was formed as a regiment or battalion. There is no resultant effect on this lineage if the sub-unit is subsequently reorganized again as a unit, e.g., the 5th (British Columbia) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA. Conversely, a sub-unit reorganized as a unit starts its regimental or battalion lineage on the date of that reorganization. A case in point would be the Regular Force engineer squadrons reorganized as regiments in 1977. For the historical record, the lineages of these sub-units are tracked separately in case they are once again reconstituted as sub-units.

When a unit is amalgamated with one or more units or sub-units the new unit's lineage starts on the date of the oldest regiment or battalion. All honours and perpetuations held by any or all of the amalgamated units and sub-units are automatically transferred to the new unit. On rare occasions, amalgamated regiments separate and revert to their original form. After such a divorce, each component regains its own honours. A list of amalgamated units for the regiments contained in this part (Part 1 - Armour, Artillery and Engineer, and Part 2 - Infantry) to Volume 3 is at Annex 1A.

Armour regiments

British Army cavalry customs and traditions strongly influenced pre- and post-Confederation cavalry in Canada. The types of cavalry, while similar to those organized in continental Europe, differed somewhat in terms of the size of mounts and riders. Most European armies prescribed to a formal gradation in which larger men and horses were allocated to the heavy cavalry and the smaller men and horses to the light cavalry. In Britain, regulations required that all cavalry regiments be capable of effecting a cavalry charge and regimental colonels often sought to obtain the best mounts available. Although in most respects the weaponry used and uniforms worn within the types of cavalry were similar to that of other countries, the difference in capability was slight as both types of cavalry employed aarme blanche tactics (charging the main body of the enemy with sword and lance).

Household cavalry, dragoon guards and dragoons were designated as heavy cavalry. The heavies were used for decisive shock action charges. Interestingly, in principle dragoons were originally infantry armed with firearms but provided with horses for transport. Over time, this type of unit was used exclusively in a cavalry role. In a sense, they were the precursors for the mounted rifles which came into existence in the late 19th Century. Light cavalry, which included light dragoons, hussars and lancers, were used for piqueting, reconnaissance, foraging, patrolling, screening and pursuit. In Canada, only one lancer unit was authorized but there is no record of it being formed (a 'Class B' "detachment of Volunteer Cavalry (Lancers) at Ottawa" authorized on 3 September 1857 to be under command of the Ottawa Field Battery). It is likely that no further lancer units were authorized due to eastern Canada's thickly wooded, undulating and copiously watered terrain which would have made this type of unit difficult to employ. For the purposes of the regulations governing the carrying of Standards and Guidons, all cavalry regiments in the Canadian Militia, except for hussars, were designated as dragoons.5

Like all long-standing army units, armour regiments have undergone numerous role and organizational terminology changes throughout their existence. Canada's cavalry regiments were horse-mounted until the early days of the Second World War but the nature of warfare had changed to such an extent that horse mounted fighting arms were no longer required. As mechanized forces were essential to the war effort, be they armoured car, reconnaissance or tank, an Active Force armoured corps was formed to assist in training and personnel management issues of this 'new' fighting force. The new wartime armour regiments were numbered sequentially, followed by a descriptive title indicating their type and a bracketed secondary title representing their former titles. In 1949, after all Reserve Force cavalry regiments had been assigned to the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, the regiments were once again identified by their pre-war titles, with the generic numerical identification as the bracketed secondary title. In 1958, the secondary titles were dropped.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons, authorized to be formed on 21 December 1883, are the oldest continuously embodied armour regiment in the Regular Force. As an armour regiment, the lineage of 12e Régiment blindé du Canada is traced to 24 March 1871, although its Regular Force component was not authorized until 6 May 1968. The Halifax Rifles (RCAC), which were authorized to be formed on 14 May 1860, are the oldest continuously embodied armour regiment in the Reserve Force.

Artillery regiments

As defined by Brigadier Oliver F.G. Hogg in his Artillery: its Origin, Heyday and Decline, "The term artillery may be taken to cover any non-personal offensive weapon in which gas pressure derived from the combustion of a propellant charge ejects a missile." During the early history of artillery on the field of battle guns were under civilian command and control and the 'captains' of the guns employed them individually, normally against static fortifications. There was no attempt to employ artillery in mass under a single commander until sometime in the 17th Century when artillery tactics emerged – which in essence created it as a separate arm or corps. During the Thirty Years War, King Gustavus II of Sweden (1594-1632) frequently employed his guns in mass in batteries and developed greater mobility with his artillery. He also increased the number of cannons to six, rather than the standard of one cannon per thousand soldiers, and attached a pair of light pieces to each infantry regiment as "battalion" guns. However, it was Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) who was likely the first to permanently organize artillery by forming a regiment of artillery and schools of instruction in 1671. In 1716, the British organized two permanent companies, comprising the Royal Artillery.

Unlike the armour and infantry, the history of the artillery as a single large regiment of regiments is in reality the story of the individual batteries that were brigaded into larger entities for both tactical and administrative reasons. For much of its early existence the Royal Artillery was structured around battalions, which consisted of companies in the field artillery and troops in the horse artillery. In 1859, the British adopted a brigade system and redesignated their companies and troops as batteries with the field and garrison batteries being designated numerically and the horse artillery alphabetically. By late 1861, the field batteries were also gradually being designated alphabetically. In Canada, the brigade system of organization was also adopted and, like the British, the means of designating batteries changed over time. Eventually, the field and horse artillery were designated as batteries, with field batteries designated numerically and horse artillery alphabetically, and garrison artillery as companies, designated numerically.

Artillery regiments went through a similar series of redesignations and these can be, at times, confusing to the reader. As mentioned before, battalions were redesignated as brigades and, between 1939 and 1946, artillery brigades were redesignated as regiments. Prior to this last change the designation 'regiment' actually denoted a formation level command. A case in point would be the 7th Toronto Regiment, which was authorized to be formed in 1931 and had under its command the 3rd Field Brigade and 4th Medium Brigade. This artillery organization was disbanded in 1954 under the title Headquarters, RCA, 2nd Armoured Division.

The 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, authorized to be formed on 1 December 1898, is the oldest continuously embodied Regular Force artillery regiment. The 2nd Field Artillery Regiment, RCA, which was authorized to be formed on 27 November 1856, is the oldest continuously embodied Reserve Force artillery regiment. Like the Montreal Light Infantry, this regiment was originally a Sedentary Militia battalion that was placed under the provisions of a 'Class' B unit as the 'Montreal Artillery'.

Engineer regiments

The original engineer "unit" was the company. Although two companies were formed in England in 1716, it was not until 1772, when a company was formed in Gibraltar from men stationed in that garrison, that the rank and file of these units were permanently established. Although there were a few Militia District engineer headquarters formed in the 1920s, Canadian engineer companies were mostly brigaded as necessary. In time the headquarters were designated as regiments with the companies 'temporarily' assigned under command. Thus, for traditional purposes the lineages of engineer sub-units are tracked separately. Unfortunately, there is often inadequate organizational documentation for post-Unification engineer squadrons that are assigned to regiments. Therefore, at least on paper, regiments may have squadrons allocated to them that are not reflected in the actual organization.

It can be said that Canada owes its existence to the work of military engineers. From the building of stockades and forts in New France and British North America to the construction of roads and canals they have left an indelible mark on the nation. Engineer companies were established as early as the 1850s but the oldest engineer company still recorded on the order of battle is the Charlottetown Engineer Company, which was authorized to be formed on 16 August 1878. This company was amalgamated with the 4th Prince Edward Island Regiment of Garrison Artillery in 1904 and is now part of The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC).

Conventionally, engineer units are numbered, not named, and the standard for army engineer units is to use ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) for the Reserve Force and cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) for the Regular Force. In the French language, units are all identified with ordinal numbers. Within this convention, units were numbered sequentially by type, for example, there was a 3rd Field Company and a 3rd Field Park Company on active service and a 3rd (Reserve) Field Company in the Non-Permanent Active Militia during the Second World War. In 1947, field engineer and field park companies were redesignated squadrons. Prior to this date, these types of engineer units were designated as squadrons only if they provided support to cavalry or armoured formations. Engineer units that did not fill a field function, such as works companies, continued to be designated as companies.

Although engineer regiments are a comparatively new phenomenon in the Canadian military, 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgin’s) does possess a lineage from 14 September 1866 but this is due to its previous service as an infantry regiment. The first Regular Force regiment was not formed until 29 August 1952 when the 1st Field Engineer Regiment, RCE was authorized to be formed. This regiment was disbanded on 1 July 1958 and it was not until 17 June 1977 that Regular Force engineer regiments again appeared on the order of battle.

Infantry regiments

Of the fifty independent volunteer rifle companies authorized in 1855, ten were formed in the Province of Canada (present-day Ontario and Quebec). These rifle companies and the ones formed thereafter were armed with the 1853 pattern muzzle-loading rifled musket. Their role was intended to provide a rapid deployment force or "vanguard" for the antiquated smoothbore musket equipped Sedentary Militia, when they were called out, and as skirmishers and providers of security and information for British regulars. It was not until 1862 that the first volunteer units designated "infantry" were authorized to be formed. Although Canadian units were styled after the various types of infantry that had developed in Europe (light infantry, fusilier, rifle, etc.), except for the guards regiments who filled a dual purpose for ceremonial reasons, all were largely employed and trained as line infantry.

The independent companies that were formed in cities were being gradually grouped together, or "battalionized," when, in 1866, the Militia colonists of the Provinces of British North America were called out to defend against the first Fenian incursion. It became readily apparent that for the efficient employment of the independent infantry companies, especially those in isolated rural communities, provisional battalions were necessary. This experience rapidly led to the establishment of permanent battalions with permanent commanding and staff officers. In 1866 more than 40 battalions, including The Civil Service Rifle Regiment and three battalions of rifles for the newly authorized Grand Trunk Railway Corps, were formed.

From the outset, battalions were designated numerically. This system of identification changed in 1900 when infantry battalions were redesignated as regiments and again in 1920 when, except for The 48th Regiment (Highlanders), regiments lost their numerical designations.

In the Canadian Army restructure of 1936, the Canadian Machine Gun Corps was disbanded and its units were amalgamated with infantry regiments. The infantry regiments which received these amalgamations took on the role of machine gun units and were afforded the secondary designation "(MG)." In many cases, machine gun battalions were amalgamated with multiple partners and unless specifically directed in General Orders, the lineage of these battalions is afforded to the unit that was assigned the headquarters component and at least one company.

Since 1855 there have been more than 160 Regular and Reserve Force infantry battalions authorized to be formed. Notwithstanding the Second World War, when regiments raised additional battalions for active service, some regiments have and continue to be authorized as multi-battalion regiments.

The Royal Canadian Regiment, which was authorized to be formed on 21 December 1883, is the oldest infantry regiment continuously embodied in the Regular Force. However, its lineage is traced to 14 August 1863 because of its amalgamated Reserve Force component (the 4th Battalion), the former "The London and Oxford Fusiliers (3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment)". The Canadian Grenadier Guards, which were authorized to be formed on 17 November 1859, are the oldest infantry regiment continuously embodied in the Reserve Force.


Perpetuation is a uniquely Canadian system that institutionalizes the memory of the deeds and sacrifices made by those soldiers who contributed to a unique period in Canada's military history and provides a means of preserving military operational honours for succeeding generations. Thus, the perpetuating unit becomes the official 'safe-keeper' of this heritage for them all.

The system was developed by the army after the First World War and was extensively used to safeguard the heritage of Canadian Expeditionary Force units. The system has changed little over the years. Only combatant units, that have gained an honour and/or distinction in the field, may be perpetuated and only a combatant unit authorized to be an honour-bearing unit may be afforded a perpetuation. A list of authorized perpetuations is contained at Annex 1B.

Perpetuation guidelines, developed by the post-First World War Battle Honours Committee and the Army Historical Section, are still followed today:

  1. where a connection can be established, whether generic, territorial or titular, it is desirable that units now existing or to be raised in future should perpetuate military units of the past in Canada;
  2. where a connection is established between an active unit and a defunct or disbanded unit, no limits should be set to the time elapsed between the disbanding of the former unit and the raising of the present unit;
  3. where only a territorial connection is established and where two or more active units now recruit within that territory, perpetuation should be offered to active units in order of date of raising. Only in exceptional cases may dual perpetuations be warranted; and
  4. it is policy to perpetuate the memory of predecessor units but there shall be no other effect upon the lineage or precedence of any perpetuating unit.

The perpetuation rules were designed to find the most suitable match for disbanded units with units on the current order of battle. This provided a strong family link and 'local' meeting point for former soldiers of the perpetuated unit and avoided unnecessary conflicts amongst units who wished to perpetuate the same unit.

Perpetuations of Canadian Expeditionary Force artillery units were assigned on a titular basis and, in many cases, the wartime units mobilized in Canada hold little connection with the geographical location of the perpetuating unit.

When an artillery regiment and its allocated batteries are amalgamated with another regiment and its allocated batteries, perpetuation is automatically assigned to the batteries which maintain the same numerical designation. When a numerical designation is not continued, the perpetuation goes to the regiment as a whole.

Operational histories

The notes in the lineage charts give only a brief overview of the operational history of each regiment. For this purpose, "operational" is considered to apply to activity during war. Peacetime service is not summarized, including overseas service with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or peacekeeping service with the United Nations or other international body. The battle honours noted on the charts serve as a record of a regiment's participation in campaigns, and it is not considered necessary to repeat this detail in each chart's history note. For further information on the history of a regiment consult the histories produced by the regiment or branch concerned, many of which can found by reading the endnotes.

Although many regiments contributed to the raising of Canada's wartime units, the operational histories in the charts includes information only for those regiments which served as homogeneous units or recognition was accorded through the granting of a battle honour or perpetuation.

It should be noted that during the Second World War the majority of artillery and engineer regiments possessed no lineal or territorial connection with the similarly numbered regiments of the Canadian Active Service Force. Where artillery batteries and engineer squadrons have been amalgamated into regiments their wartime service is detailed in the charts.


As a generic term, a "Colour" refers to the variously shaped consecrated flags that are issued to specific types of units for identification. They are described as the "Standards" of horse guards and dragoon guards, the "Guidon" of dragoon and hussar regiments and the "Colours" of foot guards and line infantry regiments. Although the first official reference to a standard form of religious service in connection with the formal issue or presentation of Colours dates to 1867, flags have been associated with religion from the earliest times when 'battle flags' were blessed, as consecrated objects. It is for this reason that Colours are afforded, when no longer serviceable or used, the dignity of being laid up in a sacred or public setting.

There is no definitive origin on the use of Colours. The fixing of a tribal emblem or a badge to a pole for the purpose of indicating the position of a leader or as a rallying point for soldiers eventually led military units and the nobility to employ a wide array of painted flags and banners. Gradually this eclectic mix of flags evolved into what can now be called the 'original' form of Colours as we know them today. As mentioned previously, by the beginning of 17th Century a system of regimentation came into being. Each company identified with its commander's (captain's) flag or 'colour'. The battalion's/regiment's field officers (the colonel, lieutenant-colonel and the major) each nominally commanded one of the companies. These flags did fulfil a purpose closely akin to "Colours" but they were in essence simply a means of marking their presence on the field of battle. In mid-18th Century, Colours were standardized and infantry regiments were issued a Sovereign's and a Regimental Colour (referred to as a 'Stand of Colours'). At the same time, foot guard battalions were still receiving their former allotment of company colours, although not all were being used. The foot guard regiments enjoyed the patronage of Royal Colonels and were authorized to use a field officer's colour as the Sovereign's Colour (a crimson flag displaying a royal badge) and other company colours, in rotation, as the regimental Colour (a grand union flag with a royal or national badge).

Regiments who were required to employ speed and stealth in their role as scouts and skirmishers ahead of the main body were not authorized to carry Colours. In Canada this included both hussar and rifle regiments. While the drums of mounted regiments and the drums of rifle regiments may be emblazoned with battle honours and distinctions, as are the drums of all infantry regiments, they are not to be treated as Colours and compliments are not authorized to be paid to them. In 1956, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II authorized hussar regiments to carry Guidons.

For infantry regiments with a stand of Colours, battle honours are emblazoned only on the Regimental Colour except in the case of foot guards, which emblazon the same honours on both. British Army Order 338 of 1922 permits "with His Majesty's approval – the carrying of honours on King's Colours ... including Canadian regiments," but this has not yet been necessary as to date the design of Canadian Colours has provided sufficient space to emblazon honours. Only the regimental Colour is shown in the infantry regiment charts.

Colours bear badges which identify the regiment to which they belong, the Crown and the regimental facing colour. On the Standards and Guidons of armour regiments, the distinguishing insignia are in the centre and - in a title or badge form - in the second and third quarters (corners of the flag). On infantry regimental Colours, they are in the centre and, in rare cases, in the four corners. Other authorized badges, such as those for honorary distinctions and foot guard company badges may also be emblazoned.

In addition to the badge, title and honours of a regiment, Colours also incorporate the approved motto and, if required, the Arabic numeral of the battalion. Furthermore, they can be differenced to identify the type and history of the unit. For example, armour regiments originally formed as cavalry bear the White Horse of Hanover while other armour regiments incorporate a white ram. There are numerous other policies followed in the design of Colours and readers should consult A-AD-200-000/AG-000, The Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces for further information.

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery does not possess Colours. However, when its guns are on ceremonial parade with formed artillery regiments or independent batteries they are equivalent to a battalion with its Colours, and the first gun in procession is to be saluted accordingly. This honour was afforded to the Canadian artillery in 1885.

A Colour has come to mean much more than a simple expedient as a rallying point for soldiers on the field of battle. Today, it is a symbol of the spirit, history and sacrifices of a regiment. It is a regiment's most honoured possession, it records the heroic actions of its soldiers and it is venerated as the embodiment of the ideals of the regimental family and the nation.

A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole,
It does not look likely to a stir a man's soul,
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth-eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff, and the rag was a flag.
Sir Edward Hamley

Camp flags

While Colours mark a formed unit in the line of battle or on parade, camp flags mark the unit's location in garrison or camp. Although inspired by British practice, Canadian camp flags reflect more freedom of design. For example, while facing colours and regimental badges are often used (as in the British tradition), so too are colours derived from vehicle tactical signs. Basically, the only restriction on camp flag design is that they be sufficiently different from other camp flags to avoid confusion, that they must have standard proportions of two by length and one by width, the use of lettering is restricted to what is absolutely necessary and the first quadrant (top portion of the flag closest to the pole) is reserved exclusively for unit designation, i.e., the 1st or 2nd battalion of a regiment.

The use of Camp Colours, currently referred to as camp flags, in the British Army dates back to the 18th Century when Royal Clothing Warrants were first issued to govern their use. Until the First World War the descriptions concerning camp colours were simple and precise. These flags were a purely functional item of regiment's field equipment - regardless of the type of unit - that served to mark the location of a unit in the field while encamped. They were not 'Colours' in the full sense of the word that were carried into battle but were called camp colours simply because early orders governing their use stated that they had to be of the same colour as the regiment's facing colour. Carried by the quartermaster, the quarter and rear guards there were a total of five camp colours for a Regiment. Upon arrival in the location of a regiment’s designated encampment, the quartermaster would place a central flag on the ground to be occupied by the headquarters and the quarter and rear guards would mark the front and rear corners of the camp as laid out by the quartermaster. Flags were simple in design allowing the approaching troops to identify their unit's allocated encampment from a distance. These flags were square shaped so that they would not unduly droop, thus assisting identification from a distance.

Canadian use for the most part follows that of the British except that Canadian instructions at the beginning of the 20th Century directed camp colours of the dimensions 18 x 18 inches (45.72 x 45.72 centimetres) be made of "blue for Infantry and red for Rifles, with the number of the Battalion in red [on blue] and green [on red] figures on each; the Commanding Officer should have a little larger colour erected in front of his tent, distinguished by a transverse cross of blue or red." During the First World War some units did use camp colours to identify the location of the regimental headquarters in the field but the practice was not formalized. The primary identification for formations and units was the formation patch that was more practical at the time. For the most part, examples of battalion flags were based on their formation patch. Just like the formation patches, these flags were not used on return to Canada as they were solely intended for use on overseas service. The practice was continued during the Second World War by some units but their use was not generally encouraged. They continued to be a purely utilitarian flag to indicate location of a regiment in camp. During both wars, instructions stated that these were not to be brought into battle nor be within sight of enemy forces.

The term Camp Flag comes into use after the Second World War but its purpose continued that of the camp colours. Their shape also became rectangular and the patterns became more and more elaborate with the addition of the outline of the unit badge and more recently the colourised unit badge. Recently, regimental identity has grown towards these flags but their intended purpose has been consistent in identifying the location of field unit's headquarters. According to purpose, camp flags are not carried on the line of march (on parade) in the Canadian Forces.

Although the rectangular shape of camp flags is regulated, regiments may choose various other shapes for miniature flags for use as pennants on parade square markers and vehicles.


The following organizational terminology is used in this publication:

  • Allocated (affecté/alloué) - means assigned to a named unit as a component part.
  • Amalgamated (fusionner (se fusionna)) - means joined with another unit or units to form one new unit; a kind of "marriage".
  • Attached (attaché) - means assigned to a unit, but not as a component part.
  • Authorised (autorisé(e)) - given official authority to exist as a unit.
  • Converted (converti) - means changed from one functional branch to another, e.g., infantry to artillery. (In certain periods, the artillery has also used the term "branch" to indicate its own internal functional components, e.g., field branch artillery and anti aircraft branch artillery. To avoid confusion, these lineage charts only use the word "branch" in its modern sense, rather than to indicate components.)
  • Designated (baptisé) - titled or named.
  • Disbanded (dissous) - means ceased to exist as an authorised unit.
  • Disbanded for the purpose of reorganisation (dissous fut dissous en vue d’une réorganisation) - means disbanded with the intent to immediately reform with no effect on lineage. This term was also used to correct terminology errors made by organizational staff.
  • Formed from (formé de) - means established by the reorganization (and normally the conversion) of another unit or establishment of a regiment through the grouping of sub-units.
  • Perpetuation (perpétuation) - means the authorized inheritance and preservation of the identity, fighting traditions, and honours of a disbanded unit that has gained an honour and/or distinction in the field.
  • Supplementary Order of Battle (Ordre de bataille supplémentaire) - to be reduced to nil strength (made dormant) but still legally exist as a unit of the Canadian Forces.
  • Transferred (transféré) - assigned to one functional component from another, for example, from the Regular to the Reserve Force.


For ease of retrieval from the various sources used, footnote sources have been entered in the language of their communication. Within the endnotes of the lineage charts it should be noted the following abbreviations are used:

  1. AHR – Annual Historical Report
  2. CANFOREHED – Canadian Forces Headquarters
  3. CAO – Canadian Army Order
  4. CAOF – Canadian Army Occupation Force
  5. CASF – Canadian Active Service Force
  6. CEF – Canadian Expeditionary Force
  7. CENCOM – Central Command
  8. CFAO – Canadian Forces Administrative Order
  9. CFOO – Canadian Forces Organization Order
  10. CFSO – Canadian Forces Supplementary Order
  11. CRO – Overseas Military Forces of Canada Routine Orders
  12. CTDO – Canadian Training Division Order
  13. EASCOM – Eastern Command
  14. GO – General Order
  15. MGO – Militia General Order
  16. MO – Militia Order
  17. MOO – Ministerial Organization Order
  18. NAC – National Archives of Canada
  19. NDHQ – National Defence Headquarters
  20. PANL – Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador
  21. PC – Privy Council
  22. QUECOM – Quebec Command
  23. RG – Record Group
  24. RO – Routine Order
  25. SD – Directorate of Staff Duties
  26. WC – Western Command

All unpublished documentation has been taken from the collection of the Directorate of History and Heritage or the National Archives of Canada. The latter documentation is cited as being taken from a particular section of the NAC. All Directorate of History and Heritage documentation taken from Document Collection, Kardex or Permanent Reference files is cited as such. All other documentation is from the Heritage Section's own files or the Directorate's library collection.


Recommended readings

For in depth treatment of the history and development of the Canadian Forces and its heritage, readers are invited to visit their local military or civilian library or the internet to consult the below mentioned sources:

  1. Baker, Anthony, Battle Honours of the British and Commonwealth Armies, (London, 1986).
  2. Bernier, Serge, Canadian Military Heritage, Volume III, 1871-2000, (Montreal, 2000).
  3. Boutell, Charles, revised by J.P. Brooke-Little, Boutell's Heraldry, (London, 1977).
  4. Canada, National Defence Headquarters, Director Ceremonial (History and Heritage), Canadian Forces Military Bands and Marches, Volume 1, Band Instructions (A-PD-202-001/FP-000), (Ottawa, 1992 - Change 1, 1993-09-10).
  5. Canada, National Defence Headquarters, Directorate of History and Heritage, The Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces (A-AD-200-000/AG-000), (Ottawa, 1999 - Change 3, 2003-01-13).
  6. Chartrand, René, Canadian Military Heritage, Volume I, 1000-1754, (Montreal, 1993).
  7. Chartrand, René, Canadian Military Heritage, Volume II, 1755-1871, (Montreal, 1995).
  8. Department of Medieval Studies at Central European University, Budapest, (
  9. Dunbar, Francis J. and Harper, Joseph H., Old Colours Never Die, A Record of Colours and Military Flags in Canada, (Oakville, 1992).
  10. Eve, George. W., Heraldry as Art: An Account of Its Development and Practice, Chiefly in England, (London: Batsford, 1907).
  11. Grosse, Francis, Military Antiquities Respecting A History of the English Army, Volume 1, (London, 1801).
  12. Harris, Stephen John, Canadian Brass, (U of T Press, 1988).
  13. Johnson, Stanley C., The Flags of our Fighting Army, Including Standards, Guidons, Colours and Drum Banners, (London, 1918).
  14. Kopstein, Jack and Pearson, Ian, The Heritage of Canadian Military Music, (St. Catharines, 2002).
  15. Morton, Desmond, Ministers and Generals - Politics and the Canadian Militia 1868-1904, (Toronto, 1970).
  16. Russell, Edward C., Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Forces, (Government of Canada, 1980).
  17. Stanley, George F., Canada's Soldiers, (Toronto, 1960).
  18. Wood, Walter, The Romance of Regimental Marches, (London, 1932).

1. B-GL-300-003/FP-000 - Command 
2. Minutes of Militia Council, 7 January 1920, Decision No. 2
3. National Defence Act, PART II, THE CANADIAN FORCES, Constitution, paragraph 14 - "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."
4. The spelling in the quotes contained herein have been 'modernized' to assist the understanding of the reader.
5. GO 97/1927.

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