Canadian Army Returns to Traditional Rank Insignia, Names and Badges

Canadian Army Returns to Traditional Rank Insignia, Names and Badges

Canadian Army traditional rank insignia is the norm these days.


In recent years, the Canadian Government has restored the Canadian Army’s traditional unit designations as well as ranks and insignia. Not long ago, Canada also restored the traditional service names to Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force from the the Land Forces Command, Maritime Command and Air Command that they adopted in 1968.

When the Government announced that it was reinstating the historical name of the Canadian Army in August 2011, it restored an important part of the Canadian Army’s heritage. The restoration of traditions related to the historical identity of the Canadian Army appropriately reflects the re-designation of the institution.

The proposed changes included the re-introduction of divisional nomenclature and patches for the current Land Force Areas; traditional rank insignia for officers; corps shoulder titles following the restoration of traditional titles to a number of Canadian Army corps in April 2013; and the Canadian Army’s secondary badge. Further, the Minister of National Defence announced the intention to restore the historical Army rank names for non-commissioned members.

Divisional Nomenclature and Patches

Land Force Areas were renamed as divisions and Canadian Army personnel now wear appropriate division patches. Formations have been renamed as follows:

Land Force Quebec Area – “2nd Canadian Division”;

Land Force Western Area – “3rd Canadian Division”;

Land Force Central Area – “4th Canadian Division”;

Land Force Atlantic Area – “5th Canadian Division”; and

Land Force Doctrine and Training System – “Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre”.

There was no change to 1st Canadian Division Headquarters.

Corps Shoulder Titles

Following the restoration of the Canadian Army’s corps in April 2013, corps metal and cloth shoulder titles were produced.

Traditional Insignia for Officers

In line with the formalization of historical rank names for non-commissioned members, the traditional army officer rank insignia – with the stars, or “pips,” and crowns – were restored. This ranking system is more than a hundred years old and continues to be used by armies the world over. Historically, the variations of the stars and crown were used to delineate rank so that officers could recognize each other on the battlefield. Canadian Army colonels and general officers will also wear the traditional gorget patches.

Canadian Army Secondary Badge

The new Canadian Army secondary badge is based on the historical Canadian Army badge used during and after the Second World War. It features the crossed swords, overlaid by three maple leaves conjoined on one stem. A crown is placed atop the maple leaves. The secondary badge is displayed on the Canadian Army ensign and pocket badge.

One wonders what former Minister National Defence, The Honourable, Paul Hellyer thinks of the new / old changes.

Following are photos of these “new – old” army rank insignia.


  • Paul Crober

    January 12, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Those of us who were paying attention in the early 1970s when at MILCOL would have noticed the significant morale drop in our military staff as the new “CF” green tunics arrived concurrent with enormous reductions to CF operational capabilities (Hellyer and later Pearson cuts were well beyond those of Multoney, Chretien or Harper). We were the only Commonwealth armed forces to depart from Commonwealth uniforms and insignia — to the ridiculous point of using Army ranks on board ships, thereby confusing both Allies and enemies.
    Anyway, slowly but surely the excesses of Unification are being trimmed and the essentials (admin and operational integration) are being enhanced. Hellyer would not like what is going on. Most of us should not be paying the slightest attention to his opinions.

  • John R. Graham

    January 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    It looks to me (only from photos) that the RCAF is on the way too. I see photos of General Lawson and other RCAF officers that keep the maple leafs on their epaulets but also have rings on their sleeves that look like traditional RCAF.

  • Paul Crober

    January 12, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Yes RCAF have new officer rank, plus one or two changes to non-commissioned insignia. I was working with RCN when the
    Nelson “curl” was brought in. Prior to that, much gnashing of teeth about “reversion” to British rank. After it was introduced — all criticism disappeared.

  • Michel Charron

    January 14, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    So much for our hard gained true Canadian identity. We need to respect our british traditions and history but but not to the expense of the maple leaf symbol that made us proud to serve our country.Glad the Air Force did not go back to old rank designations; being a wing commander without a wing does not make much sense in my view. I do not know too many currently serving personnel that were too enthusiastic about this politically driven move.Dollars could have been much better invested.