Rank and Responsibility

Table of Ranks & Responsibilities

Table of Ranks & Appointments

Staff Officers

Rank & Appt Abbreviations



►►Lieutenant General

►►Major General

►►Brigadier General

►►Brigadier (1928-1968)

►►Col.-Commandant (1922-1928)


►►Lieutenant Colonel




►►2nd Lieutenant

►►Officer Cadet

Warrant Officers

►►Chief Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class I (1915-1968)

►►Master Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class II (1915-1968)

►►Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class III (1939-1945)

Non-Commissioned Officers

►►Staff Sergeant (1900-1968)


►►Lance Sergeant (1900-1968)

►►Master Corporal (1968-2000+)


►►Lance Corporal  (1900-1968)

Non-Commissioned Mbrs (Men)




Master Gunner

Platoon Sergeant Major

Honorary Ranks


Colonel of the Regiment

Honorary Colonel

Colonel Commandant

Major General

The rank of Major General predated the 20th Century and was considered the most junior of the general officer ranks, at a time when a Brigadier was not considered a full general officer. This rank was considered appropriate for an officer in command of a division.


The rank of Major General traces its lineage back to the rank of "Sergeant Major", at that time not a warrant officer, but an officer in command of an army's infantry and generally third in command of an entire army (after the Lieutenant General and Captain General) as well as a staff officer. As the 1600s progressed, the title "Sergeant Major" was applied to officers at the regimental level who acted as a third-in-command as well as a staff officer. The Sergeant Major evolved into the later rank of Major, and the senior Sergeants Major were dubbed "Sergeant Major General" to distinguish them.

By the early 1700s, the "Sergeant" from the rank title was commonly dropped and eventually Major General became the permanent title. The oddity of a Major General being outranked by a Lieutenant General despite Majors being senior to Lieutenants has been carried forward over the centuries by most modern militaries, including the U.S. Army, British Army and German armies, in addition to the Canadian Army.


Up until the time of Unification in 1968, the insignia for a Major General included a set of gorget patches in addition to his standard badges of rank, consisting of a crossed baton and sabre surmounted by a rank star.




Canadian Forces Slip-On


After Unification in 1968, the rank of Major General remained unchanged. The insignia was changed to consist of the crown, a crossed sabre and baton, and two maple leaves replacing the rank star. The number of maple leaves matched the number of stars an American Major General employed in his rank insignia, and the rank was sometimes referred to colloquially as a "Two Leaf General" in emulation of US colloquialisms such as "Two Star General".


In addition to the command of a division, Major Generals could be found in a variety of garrison posts, scientific positions, and staff duties. A common concern voiced by the press and other critics by the early 1990s was the number of general officers in the Canadian military.


Some standard appointments usually held by soldiers ranked as Major Generals included:

  • Vice Chief of the General Staff

  • Adjutant-General

  • Quartermaster-General

  • Master-General of the Ordnance

As well, Military Districts and Commands were usually commanded by a Major General.

During the Second World War, other appointments typically held by Major Generals included

  • Division commanders overseas and in Canada

  • General Officer Commander in Chief Atlantic Command

  • General Officer Commander in Chief Pacific Command

  • General Officer Commanding 7th Canadian Division

  • Commander, Combined Newfoundland and Canadian Military Forces Newfoundland

  • Inspector General, Eastern Canada

  • Inspector General, Central Canada

  • Inspector General, Western Canada

  • Director-General Medical Services

  • Director-General, Department of Munitions and Supply

  • Joint Associate Director, National Selective Service

  • Commandant, Royal Military College

  • Commandant, Camp Borden

  • Deputy Chairman, Inspection Board of UK and Canada

  • Military Attache in France

  • Special Commissioner Defence Projects in Northwest Canada

  • Senior Combatant Officer, Canadian Military Headquarters

  • Major-General in Charge of Administration, Canadian Military Headquarters

  • Director Medical Services, Canadian Military Headquarters

  • Commander, Canadian Forestry Corps

Canadian Army Ranks/Appointments
Non-Commissioned Ranks
Private  | Lance Corporal | Corporal | Master Corporal | Lance Sergeant | Sergeant | Staff Sergeant
Warrant Officers




Warrant Officer | Warrant Officer Class III | Warrant Officer Class II Warrant Officer Class I |  Warrant Officer | Master Warrant Officer | Chief Warrant Officer
Officer Cadet  | 2nd Lieutenant | Lieutenant | Captain | Major | Lieutenant Colonel | Colonel | Colonel Commandant | Brigadier
 Brigadier General | Major General | Lieutenant General | General


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