was both a rank and an honorary appointment.
The rank of Colonel-Commandant was introduced in 1922 into the
British Army (and many Commonwealth militaries) to replace the rank
of Brigadier General. It existed as a rank until 1928, when renamed
The appointment of Colonel-Commandant evolved similar to that of
Colonel of the Regiment, in the British Army and subsequently the
Canadian Army, generally in corps/regiments/branches which had
originated as "families" of tactical units.
Colonel-Commandant is a centuries-old tradition that Branches of the
Canadian Forces have chosen to inherit from the British.
The exact origin of this appointment is somewhat vague but has been
traced as an honorary appointment in 1722 to the Royal Artillery.
When the title was first adopted by the British infantry in 1756
with the 2nd Green jackets, the King's Rifle Corps, it was a
commanding officer's position. Their Colonel-Commandant commanded
each of that Regiment's four battalions until 1759. From 1921 to
1928, Colonel-Commandant along with "Colonel of the Staff" became an
official rank. The two replaced Brigadier in the British Army for
The personnel given this appointment were not always active military
officers. Retired military officers and prominent citizens of the
community also have been so appointed.
As an honorary appointment, the first Colonel-Commandant in the
Canadian Army was appointed for the Royal Canadian Artillery in Jan
1925 and in Dec 1947 each corps of the Canadian Army was permitted
to have its own Colonel-Commandant.
Canadian Forces Administrative Orders were eventually promulgated,
which indicated that a Colonel-Commandant could be appointed for any
branch of the CF, with the Chaplain Branch permitted two, one for
Chaplain (P) and one for Chaplain (RC) (ie one Protestant and one
Roman Catholic) as well as one for the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.
Appointment as Colonel-Commandant was restricted to former officers
of the Canadian Forces who, normally, held the rank of colonel or
above on retirement. Recommendations could be initiated only by the
Branch Adviser of a Branch, or by the Director General Reserves and
Cadets (DGRC) and only for the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, and
nominations were subject to the approval of the Minister of National
The tenure Colonels Commandant was established by CFAOs as normally
being three years, with extensions possible at the discretion of the
Chief of the Defence Staff.
Terms of Reference
The terms of reference of a Colonel Commandant included:
de corps throughout his organization;
advising NDHQ on:
significance to the organization they represented
administration and disposition of appropriate funds and
cadet corps charities, organizations and memorials, as
the units of the Regular Force and Reserve Force within that
allied or affiliated formations, regiments and units
associations or unit commanders in order to maintain uniformity
in such matters as dress and custom within their affiliations
Channels of Communication
A direct channel of communication was authorized between a Colonel
Commandant and Branch Adviser or NDHQ/DGRC, as appropriate, on
matters falling within the terms of reference above.
Colonels Commandant were also permitted to communicate with:
secretary of his Colonel-in-Chief or Captain General regarding
significant Branch or cadet corps activities and exchange of
birthday or similar greetings
commands, when appropriate; and
the Chief of the
Defence Staff, when appropriate.
Colonels Commandant were permitted, in the performance of his
appropriate CF school;
with the Branch Adviser, visit Branch units of the Regular Force
or Reserve Force on appropriate occasions;
attend meetings of his military association; and
visit NDHQ for
consultation with the CDS.
Commandant of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, in consultation with
NDHQ/DGRC, was permitted to visit cadet camps and make other visits
necessary to perform his duties)
Colonel-Commandant Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
Colonel-Commandant Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical
Colonel-Commandant Land Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
Colonel-Commandant Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery
Colonel-Commandant Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
Colonel-Commandant Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps
Colonel-Commandant Logistics Branch
Colonel-Commandant Legal Branch
Colonel-Commandant Chaplain Branch
Colonel-Commandant Royal Canadian Engineers
Colonel-Commandant Canadian Military Engineers
Colonel-Commandant Intelligence Branch