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Canadian Grenadier Guards
Canadian Grenadiers Guards Cap badge.svg
Cap badge of the Canadian Grenadier Guards
Active 1764 - present
Country Canada
Branch Militia/Canadian Army - Primary Reserves
Type Foot Guards
Role Light Role
Size One battalion
Part of Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
Garrison/HQ Montreal
Motto(s) Honi soit qui mal y pense[1]
March Quick: The British Grenadiers
Slow: Grenadiers Slow March
Anniversaries Regimental birthday: 12 March (1764 onward)
LCol M. Canavan, CD
Colonel in Chief HM The Queen
Colonel of
the Regiment
HE The Governor General of Canada
Plume White
Left side of Bearskin cap
Abbreviation CGG
"The British Grenadiers", performed here by the United States Army Band Strings ensemble, serves as the authorized march of several British Commonwealth military regiments.

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The Canadian Grenadier Guards (CGG) is the second most senior and oldest infantry regiment in the Reserve Force of the Canadian Forces. Located in Montreal, its primary role is the provision of combat-ready troops in support of Canadian regular infantry. However, as it is also a Household regiment, it performs similar ceremonial duties to the Guards regiments of the British Army, which primarily entails mounting the guard on Parliament Hill and at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, a task it shares with Canada's other Household infantry regiment, the Governor General's Foot Guards. The Canadian Grenadier Guards is an allied regiment to the British Grenadier Guards. (Also see Ceremonial Guard)

Official short history of the regiment

(taken from Annex A of the Canadian Grenadier Guards' Regimental Standing Orders)

Inception and pre-20th century

The history of the Canadian Grenadier Guards parallels in many ways the evolution of Canada as a nation, beginning in the early days after the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

On 12 March 1764, Colonel Frederick Haldimand ordered, from Trois-Rivières, Quebec, the formation of a volunteer unit to aid in the defence of Canada. In response, the 1st Company, District of Montreal Militia was raised, under the command of Captain de Montizambert; the company was drawn from the traditional Militia of the Ancien Régime, and was predominantly French-speaking. This company was raised in status to a battalion in 1807, becoming the 1st Battalion, Montreal Milita under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel The Honourable James McGill, founder of McGill University. Elements of the 1st Battalion fought at the Battle of Chateauguay (26 October 1813) under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles de Salaberry; as a result of their conduct, the 1st Battalion was awarded a pair of Colours after recommendation by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir George Prevost, to the Prince Regent.

Members of the Canadian Grenadier Guards on parade in Ottawa, Ontario

Canadian Grenadier Guards on memorial duty in Ottawa, Ontario

Canadian Grenadier Guards training in the United Kingdom

Canadian Grenadier Guards in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Canadian Grenadier Guards in Florida, 2008

Canadian Grenadier Guards in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Guards pose with their regiment's flag in Camp Nathan Smith, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Guards in Afghanistan; Afghani children look on

Guards in Afghanistan, in front of an RG-31 Nyala armoured personnel carrier

The Select Embodied Militia continued to exist after the War of 1812, being called upon next during the Rebellion of 1837. Various units existed as Montreal Rifles, Loyal Montreal Volunteers and later Montreal Volunteer Rifles. With the passage of the Militia Act in 1859, the Montreal Rifles (and other independent companies) became the First Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada on 17 November 1859, the first "Volunteer Militia" battalion to be formed in the British Empire. In 1860, the unit was raised to regimental status by The Prince of Wales with the title of First or "Prince of Wales" Regiment, Volunteer Rifles of the Canadian Milita; its regimental status was unique within the Canadian Militia, highlighted by the Regimental motto Nulli Secundus and its designation as the First Regiment. The Prince of Wales became the Honorary Colonel, an appointment he continued to hold after his coronation as King Edward VII in 1902.

In addition to those directly antecedent to the First Regiment, the 6th Battalion, Volunteer Militia, was raised in 1862, which later became the 6th Battalion Hochelaga Light Infantry and subsequently the 6th Battalion Fusiliers. In 1898, this Battalion disbanded and absorbed into the First Regiment to become the 1st Battalion Prince of Wales Regiment Fusiliers, which then became the 1st Regiment, Prince of Wales' Fusiliers in 1900. Lieutenant-Colonel J.H. Burland, last Commanding Officer of the Sixth Fusiliers, became the first Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel in 1904.

During the period from 1859 to 1900, both the regiment and the Sixth Fusiliers were on active service during the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870, and the First Regiment was next for duty in Montreal at the time of the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, being encamped under arms for a month ready to go to the front. When the first South African contingent was formed as the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, the First Regiment contributed its quota of officers and men to "E" Company. This contribution earned the battle honour "South Africa 1899-1900".

Early 20th century and First World War

In 1911, Lieutenant-Colonel J.W. Carson (later Major General Sir William Carson) was asked to reorganize the regiment, he agreed on the conditions that he be given a free hand in the selection of his officers; that the regiment should be renamed and become a Regiment of Foot Guards while still preserving its identity as the First Regiment of the Active Militia of Canada; and that it should be provided with an armoury of its own. The reorganisation was promulgated in January 1912, when the First Regiment became 1st Regiment, The Grenadier Guards of Canada, and in April 1914 took possession of the new armoury and changed its name again to 1st Regiment Canadian Grenadier Guards. It remained the First Regiment (although junior as a regiment of Foot Guards to the Governor General's Foot Guards, raised in 1872 as Household Troops for the Governor-General), and was seen to be the Canadian unit of Household Troops for the Sovereign.

Within a week of the declaration of the Great War, the regiment contributed the first Commanding Officer, 11 officers and 357 Non-commissioned Officers and men to the newly formed "The Royal Montreal Regiment" (14th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force). Further contingents were provided to Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), the 23rd Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment), 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada), 60th Battalion (VRC), and the 73rd Battalion (RHC) all of the CEF.

Lieutenant-Colonel Meighen returned from overseas command of the 14th Battalion in June 1915 and announced in September that permission finally had been given to raise an overseas battalion of the regiment, the 87th Battalion CEF. Active recruiting began on 23 October, and in seven weeks the battalion was raised and ready for its winter training in barracks at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. The battalion was unique in that recruiting had occurred not only in Montreal but in every province of Canada (rather than the restricted area allocated to other CEF Battalions) - it was a thoroughly representative "Canadian" unit. Use of the title Canadian Grenadier Guards was also different, as the policy had been to not send CEF battalions overseas with their Militia titles; for the Canadian Grenadiers, especial authority was sought from His Excellency The Governor-General, HRH The Duke of Connaught who as a British Grenadier authorised additionally the wearing of Grenadier Guards' badges.

The 87th Battalion entered France on 12 August 1916 and remained on the continent until 1919. During the War, it earned 17 Honorary Distinctions, and Private John Francis Young was awarded the Victoria Cross.

After the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, the increasing difficulty of finding replacements for the English-speaking battalions from Montreal became acute. Earlier, the regiment had raised a second CEF battalion, the 245th Bn (CGG), which, although it had moved to England did not fight as a unit, its personnel being used to support the 87th Bn and the 1st (Central Ontario) Bn of the CEF. Consequently, and to retain the Canadian Grenadiers in the Order of Battle, the decision was made to transfer the remaining personnel of the 60th Bn (VRC) to the 87th Bn. On 22 November 1918, King George V granted the title of "Guardsman" to Private soldiers of the Brigade of Guards, and this distinction extended to the Canadian Grenadiers.

Between the wars

On return to Canada in 1919, the 87th Bn was demobilised; its name was perpetuated by the 1st Battalion, The Canadian Grenadier Guards (87th Bn CEF) in 1920. At the same time the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Grenadier Guards (245th Bn CEF) perpetuated the other Great War Battalion of the CEF. With this reorganisation, the regiment lost the ordinal title of "First Regiment", as numerals for all regiments were discarded.

The return to peace permitted steps to be taken to enhance the status of the regiment as a Regiment of Foot Guards. In 1924, HRH The Prince of Wales (later HM King Edward VIII) became the Colonel-in-Chief, and was able to inspect the regiment during a visit to Canada in 1927. In 1930, HM King George V approved the alliance with the Grenadier Guards, which linkage continues today. In 1932, he approved the use of a Stand of Foot Guard Colours (presented in 1935), and of Company Colours within the regiment. In 1937, the Brigade of Canadian Guards was authorized (comprising the GGFG and the CGG), which brigade trooped in Ottawa on a number of occasions, not least for HM King George VI during the Royal Visit in 1939; the Brigade was inspected in England in November 1942 by Major-General Phelan (late of the CGG) who had commanded it in Ottawa in 1935.

In addition to the continuing linkage with McGill University, a strong linkage grew with the St. George's Society of Montreal. One of the benevolent Societies, St. George's supported the regiment in a number of ways; in return, the regiment paraded to the Regimental Church (Christ Church Cathedral) on the Sunday closest to St. George's Day at the end of which service the regiment paraded past the President of the Society (often at the gates of McGill University) and then received the Society "At Home". This linkage continued well into the 1960s, and members of the Society are still welcome in the armoury.

Second World War

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the regiment furnished 20 officers and 125 other ranks to other units before its own mobilisation in 1940 when, as 1st Battalion, The Canadian Grenadier Guards, it reached full strength in three weeks. It trained first on St. Helen's Island in Montreal, moved subsequently to Camps Borden and Valcartier, garrisoned the Halifax citadel, was stationed in Saint John, New Brunswick, and trained in Sussex, New Brunswick and Debert, Nova Scotia.

On 5 February 1942, the First Battalion became 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment (CGG), a unit of 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division (which included 21st Canadian Armoured Regiment (GGFG)). In September, proudly wearing the black beret of the Armoured Corps, 22 CAR moved to England where it would continue to train in a number of areas until deployed to Normandy on 21 July 1944. From that time until VE Day on 8 May 1945, 22 CAR fought throughout the battles around Falaise, the move into Belgium and the Netherlands and finally across the Rhine, earning 12 Honorary Distinctions. By this time, 22nd Canadian Tank Battalion (CGG) had been raised for the Pacific Force, but the war in the Pacific ended before it could be deployed overseas. 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment returned to Montreal in February 1946 for demobilization and gave up its tanks.

The Regiment's participation in the Second World War also saw numerous heroic actions by Sergeant Moe Hurwitz, who did not survive the war.

Post-Second World War

On formation of the 1st Battalion, the Home Station Regiment became 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Grenadier Guards, which continued through the war the traditional role of the Militia to provide reinforcements to units overseas. Reinforcements were drawn from other units, particularly the Halifax Rifles and Princess Louise's Fusiliers.

On reorganisation, the Canadian Grenadier Guards resumed its traditional Militia role as a regiment of Foot Guards - many of those who had served overseas continued to serve the regiment in Montreal. The peacetime routine of training, garrison duties and parades was highlighted by the appointment of King George VI as Colonel-in-Chief, the acceptance of the Honorary Colonelcy by FM The Viscount Alexander of Tunis (himself a Guardsman), the opening by him of the Regimental Museum as a Memorial to the Fallen in 1950 and the participation by members of the regiment in Korea. With the formation of the Canadian Guards (a regular unit of four battalions) in 1953, the regiment became the 6th Battalion, under which title it received a new Stand of Colours from HM Queen Elizabeth, the Colonel-in-Chief, in 1959 (the first occasion where a Militia unit received a Stand of Colours in Canada from the hand of a reigning Sovereign).

Although the responsibility for Public Duties in Ottawa was assumed by the Canadian Guards, the regiment provided individuals for this purpose until the formation of the Ceremonial Guard in 1969. Since that date, No.2 (CGG) Company has participated in the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill and Rideau Hall during the summer months. As a result, the City of Ottawa granted its Freedom to the regiment in 1979; a similar grant was made by Montreal in 1990 in commemoration of 225 years of service to the City since the formation of 1st Company, District of Montreal Militia in 1764.

Service to Canada and Montreal continues. Members of the regiment participated in aid to civil power at Oka and Kahnawake in the summer of 1990, and members have served with the United Nations Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, as well as with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Middle East. Most recently, members have served with and in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan; the Canadian name for that mission is Operation Athena.

Battle honours

The regiment has won 34 battle honours, of which 23 are emblazoned upon the colours (those in capital letters below).

Victoria Cross recipients

87th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
Dury-Arras Sector
2 September 1918

Order of precedence

Preceded by
The Governor General's Foot Guards
The Canadian Grenadier Guards Succeeded by
The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada


See also


Secondary sources

  • Regimental Standing Orders of the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Annex A. 
  • Duguid, A. Fortescue (Colonel) (1965). History of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, 1760 - 1964. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Gazette Printing Company Limited. 
  • Ducimus, The Regiments of the Canadian Infantry. St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada: Mobile Command Headquarters, Canadian Armed Forces. 1992. p. 248p.. ISBN 0-9696421-0-5. 
  • "A brief outline of the story of the Canadian Grenadier Guards and the first months of the Royal Montreal Regiment in the Great War; told in an anthology of verse and prose." (Montreal, Gazette Print. Co., 1926)
Site Date(s) Designated Location Description Image
Canadian Grenadier Guards’ Armoury 4171 Esplanade Avenue 1913-14 Canada's Register of Historic Places; Recognized - 1994 Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings Montreal, Quebec large, two-storey, brick drill hall with a low-pitched gable roof on a residential streetscape in Montreal. Manege militaire The Canadian Grenadier Guards 02.jpg

External links

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