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

Master Corporal

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.


Eventually, corporals 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.

Left: "B" 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.

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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