Lieutenant was a rank
predating the 20th Century in the Canadian Army held by commissioned
officers. The word itself comes from the French language; lieu
meaning "place" (as in the noun, meaning a position) and tenant
referring to the act of filling a position - thus the word
"lieutenant" literally means someone holding a position (as in the
absence of a superior). The word is used in Canadian titles such as
Lieutenant Governor (the monarch's representative in Canadian
provinces) and is common in other nations such as the United
Kingdom, Ireland and France. The sense of a person being a deputy
can also be seen in the titles Lieutenant Colonel or Lieutenant
In Canadian English the word was pronounced as if to say "lef-tenant"
whereas in American usage the word sounds like "lootenant" (though
this unique pronunciation only phased itself in during the latter
half of the 1800's). The spelling is the same in both countries, and
this pronunciation was also a reflection of British heritage in the
Widespread use of the rank of 2nd Lieutenant dates to 1871 when it
was introduced throughout the British Army, replacing the rank of
Ensign (called Cornet in the cavalry). The rank had been used,
however, in the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and Fusilier
regiments before 1871.
The rank originally
bore no specific insignia; at a time when officers' uniforms
differed dramatically from that of other ranks, identification was
not a problem. Nonetheless in November 1902, a single rank star was
introduced to designate a 2nd Lieutenant; a Lieutenant gained an
additional rank star, now having two, and a Captain's insignia
changed from two stars to three. This insignia sequence would remain
in use up to Unification.
After Unification, the Canadian Forces designated a 2nd Lieutenant
by one thick stripe of gold braid.
The rank of 2nd
Lieutenant was granted to an officer newly commissioned. Once fully
trained (for example, as a platoon commander in the infantry),
promotion was generally made to Lieutenant.
In the later years of the 20th Century, when it became common to
commission long-serving soldiers from the ranks, the rank of 2nd
Lieutenant was often skipped.
Subaltern was another designation for a soldier ranked Lieutenant or
were addressed by rank and name; thereafter by subordinates as "Sir"