The Machine Gun was used increasingly during the 20th Century.
Machine Guns had played a minor part in Canadian military history in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, when Gatling Guns under the command of a regular US Army officer, lent their support to the battles at Cut Knife Creek and Batoche.
In 1914, machine gun sections were set up in newly mobilizing infantry battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and on 20 Aug 1914, one of many private offers of assistance came from a group of prominent citizens to raise and equip at private expense a unit of 16 machine guns, eight armoured cars, six trucks and four automobiles. Minister of Militia and Defence Sir Sam Hughes accepted the offer, and "The Automobile-Machine Gun Brigade No. 1" was formed under the command of Major Raymond Brutinel.
Machine gun units would expand in scope during the war, eventually leading to the creation of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps; new uses and new weapons were developed, including Light Machine Guns, a separate category of weapon, and the use of machine guns for indirect machine gun fire (i.e. against targets not in a direct line of sight).
It was Brutinel himself who would pioneer indirect fire (and eventually command the CMGC)
The Canadian Machine Gun Corps was perpetuated until 1936, when the corps was disbanded and Machine Gun Battalions were created within the infantry. Machine Gun battalions (and independent MG companies in the armoured divisions} were employed throughout the war.
After the Second World War, machine guns were no longer considered a specialist weapon, and the battalions were redesignated and retasked. The machine gun would still occupy an important position in the Canadian Army, but would thereafter be incorporated directly into infantry battalions.
The designations Medium Machine Gun, Heavy Machine Gun, and General Purpose Machine Gun are a source of confusion; while it is not in dispute that the designations refer to intended role rather than weight of the weapon, there are many fine distinctions between what constitutes a medium or heavy MG, such as ammunition supply, type of sights, or type of mount. Many of the weapons listed here could be classified either way, which in the end qualifies them perhaps for the designation GPMG, though the C6 has the ability to operate as an LMG (i.e. firing from a bipod and able to go forward with leading assault troops) whereas the Vickers or .50 calibre Browning most definitely could not.
Light Machine Guns are a separate category of automatic weapon. The Bren Gun, technically a Light Machine Gun, could be deployed on a tripod for both anti-aircraft work and in the ground role.
Dates of Service