term Brigade was used defined in three different ways by the
Up to the Second World War, batteries of the Royal Canadian Artillery
would be assembled into brigades tactically, generally four batteries of
guns per brigade. The designation was changed early in the Second World
War to Regiment.
A Brigade was been the smallest operational formation throughout the
20th Century, consisting generally of two or more battalions of infantry
or two or more cavalry/armoured regiments. An operational brigade
generally contained around 5,000 soldiers and was commanded by a
brigadier or brigadier general.
In the First World War,
the four Canadian Divisions that eventually came to comprise the
Canadian Expeditionary Force were composed of four infantry battalions
In the Second World War,
infantry brigades of the two infantry divisions mobilized in 1939
consisted of three rifle battalions and a machine gun battalion. This
organization was altered to just three infantry battalions by the time
the infantry divisions saw action. An armoured brigade consisted of
three armoured regiments.
Brigades were also used as peacetime organizational formations into
which units, either active or reserve, were grouped. Reserve brigades in
the 1990s, for example, were commanded by colonels rather than brigadier
During the First World War, Canada fielded a brigade of cavalry and
twelve infantry brigades in the Canadian Corps, with more brigades
serving in the Fifth Division in England.
In the Second World War, Canada fielded both infantry brigades and
armoured brigades, generally as part of the five overseas divisions but
also including two independent armoured brigades.
In the post-1945 period, Canada again fielded active brigades, both in
West Germany as part of Canadian commitments to NATOs defensive units
there, and the 25th Canadian Brigade as part of the 1st Commonwealth
Division in the Korean War.
The Canadian Armed Forces maintained several Canadian Mechanized Brigade
Groups (CMBG) in Canada and Europe after Unification.