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


Colonel has been a military rank in the Canadian Army throughout the 20th Century, and is described as being one of the oldest ranks in existence throughout the world.

The spelling and pronunciation come from the British, who themselves incorporated the rank into the British Army in the mid 1800s. Like many military words in English, "colonel" was taken from the French though the pronunciation comes from the Spanish word, Coronel.

The word "colonel" dates back to the Roman Army, where a colonel was an officer responsible for a column of soldiers. The term disappeared after the Romans, emerging again in medieval times to designate a nobleman in command of a large number of troops.

When modern militaries began to evolve in the 1500s and Italian soldiers were formed into regiments, or "colonne" (columns) in Italian, the leader of such a unit was called a "colonnello"). The leader of several columns was known as a Colonel General, a rank not seen in Canada or Britain but common in other European militaries such as the German Army (Generaloberst).

In British use, the term "colonel" came to designate a nobleman who purchased the right to raise and lead a regiment. He in turn might receive funds from another nobleman who wished to act as his "lieutenant" or assistant, and he would therefore be known as a "lieutenant colonel".

As the practice of purchases and privately raised units began to fade in the 1800s, "colonel" came less and less to designate a professional officer in command of a regiment, and eventually infantry and cavalry regiments were commanded by Lieutenant Colonels.


The insignia for a colonel before Unification was two rank stars with a rank crown above. After Unification, the insignia was changed to four wide rows of rank braid.



Battle Dress
(King's Crown)

Service Dress
(Queen's Crown)

Combat Clothing

Garrison Dress

Duties and Responsibilities

Colonel became a rank associated with staff officers early in the 20th Century, though after Unification, the rank of Colonel was held by officers commanding Militia Areas, and later Militia Brigades.

In the late 1990s, the standard rank for an Army brigade commander became Colonel, a decision by the Chief of the Land Staff in line with a decision in the early 1990s to downgrade Land Force Areas from a Major General commander to a Brigadier General. Brigade commanders were rolled back in rank to conform to this practice, from Brigadier General to Colonel. A common concern in the early 1990s was the number of general officers in the Canadian military.

Honorary Ranks

See also the articles on

  • Colonel-in-Chief

  • Colonel of the Regiment

  • Honorary Colonel

  • Colonel-Commandant

Forms of Address

Colonels were addressed by rank and name; thereafter by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am".

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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