The appointment of
Master Corporal has existed in the Canadian Army since Unification.
This appointment is held by soldiers with the rank of Corporal and
is the first level at which soldiers are permitted to lay charges.
It is also considered the first level with which official leadership
duties and responsibilities are associated following the evolution
of the rank structure as described below.
The rank insignia of a Master Corporal (abbreviated MCpl) was a
maple leaf above a 2-bar chevron.
The French language equivalent is Caporal-chef (Cplc).
The Master Corporal appointment came into existence after the
Unification of the armed forces of Canada in the late 1960s. A power
vacuum was inadvertently created when private soldiers were promoted
to the rank of corporal as an incentive for continuing in the Forces
at a time when Unification (and the role of the United States in the
Vietnam War) made the military an unpopular option for employment.
who had passed the "B" phase of their leadership training took to
wearing a crown over their 2-bar chevrons, and this arrangement was
eventually formalized by having a maple leaf replace the crown, and
the new "B" Corporals", as they were known, became Master Corporals.
Corporal insignia as worn on Battle Dress. Artifact and
photo courtesy Ed Storey.
Right: Master Corporal insignia as worn on the CF
Uniform and later DEU.
A Master Corporal was a first level supervisor, assessed on their
ability to manage and develop subordinates. In an infantry section,
this rank equated to a pre-unification Lance Corporal in terms of
responsibilities, though is similar to the pre-unification Corporal
in that formal leadership training was required for promotion to
that level. A Master Corporal, like the Lance Corporal, was a
full-fledged junior non-commissioned officer.
The general requirements for promotion to Master Corporal included
Trade Qualification Level 2 (later Qualification Level 5), a junior
leadership course (variously known as Junior Leader's Course (a
generic course) or Infantry Section Commander's Course (ISCC)), and
a time in the rank of Corporal for a minimum of two years. Some
trades had other prerequisites as well.
While an appointment,
the grade has become a defacto grade of rank and is often
referred to as such in documentation; it was a standard
stepping-stone in the rank progression of Army trades. In the
infantry, for example, a section second in command was generally
graded as Master Corporal and assessed on his leadership ability in
that grade and position.