History of the Corps

(Taken from the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Standing Orders) 


The history of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps is inseparably bound to its hereditary place with the Ancient and Honourable Ordnance Department of England, and intimately linked with that of the Ordnance Services of the British Army.


British forces first came to Canada during the Eighteenth Century.  Included in their numbers was a force of Ordnance personnel taken from the working establishment of the Board of Ordnance to set up a logistic command for their forces, to oversee the construction of forts and buildings, and to staff the Stores Depots set up in Halifax and various locations in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.  By 1829 there were nine Stores Depots in Canada.


In 1855 the withdrawal of British troops from Canada began, leaving the Canadian authorities the task of equipping replacement troops.  Canada then consisted only of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia remained under British jurisdiction.  With Confederation in 1867 this situation changed, and by 1871 Britain withdrew the remainder of her troops, except for small garrisons in Halifax and Esquimalt.  This year also saw the organization of the Canadian Stores Department, a civil department of the Canadian Government which now took over the forts, ammunition, stores and buildings from the British.


The first large project carried out by the Canadian Stores Department was in outfitting the units enlisted for the Red River Expedition of 1871.  In 1872 a further expedition to Manitoba was equipped.  These actions resulted ultimately in the establishment of an Ordnance Depot in Victoria.  The following year saw the organization of the Royal North West Mounted Police, who were also equipped by the Stores Department.  The North West Rebellion of 1885 caused a heavy workload on the Department, but its heaviest test came in 1899 when more than 6,000 officers and men were clothed, armed and equipped for the war in South Africa.


A recommendation by Major-General E. T. Hutton, General Officer Commanding the Canadian Stores Department, and on 1 July 1903 the Ordnance Stores Corps was formed.  A Director-General and Assistant Director-General were appointed and for the first time the provision, inspection and distribution of warlike stores came under Canadian military jurisdiction.


Under authority of General Order No. 36-1904 the badge adopted for the new corps was that of the parent Army Ordnance Department of England, i.e. a shield of the ancient arms of the Board of Ordnance with the word “Ordnance” in the scroll, but with the addition of a beaver as the crest to provide a desired national touch.  The uniform, while following that of the British Army Ordnance Corps., viz., Blue with Red facings, had several differences, e.g., the pillbox hat had a Blue-Red-Blue braid whereas that of the Army Ordnance Corps was Gold-Red-Gold.


During 1905-06 the garrisons at Halifax and Esquimalt were replaced by Canadians which included Ordnance storemen, technicians, mechanical engineers, armament artificers, and ammunition experts, and the training of Ordnance personnel began at Camp Petawawa.


1907 the name of the Corps became the Canadian Ordnance Corps (General Order 194-1907) and was directed for the next three years by Lt Colonel RK Scott of the Army Ordnance Corps, the son of a Canadian Army Officer.  (Lt Colonel Scott later became Major General Scott, CB, CMG, DSO and in 1930 the Colonel).  His title was Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores.  He was followed in 1910 by Colonel JF MacDonald an officer of the Canadian Ordnance Corps with the title of Principal Ordnance Officer.


During the First World War nearly 2,000 officers and men served in the Corps.  With the Canadian Corps in France and Belgium were three Ordnance Mobile Workshops.  In England five depots, including a Base Depot were established.  In addition, the Canadian Ordnance Corps had representation in four divisions and a cavalry brigade, and in forces sent to Russia, Siberia, and the West Indies.  In recognition of these services the Canadian Ordnance Corps was granted the prefix ROYAL in 1919.


In the Second World War the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps increased from 300 all ranks to more than 35,000; thousands of civilians also played their part with the Corps in Canada and overseas.  The Corps was represented in every Canadian formation overseas, and in every theatre in which Canadian troops fought-France, Dieppe, Hong Kong, Sicily, Italy and North West Europe, and landed personnel on the Normandy beaches with the assault forces.  In 1941 the Corps was granted combatant status, and in 1944 its Engineer branch formed the nucleus of the new Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.


Field units of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps have served in Europe since 1951 as part of the NATO forces, and in the Korean campaign of 1950-52.  Today, Ordnance personnel are also serving with the United Nations Forces in several locations around the world, on UN Truce supervisory teams, and with the Department of External Affairs.



Permanent Corps (Regular)


In Canada the Corps was organized 1 July 1903 as the Ordnance Stores Corps, redesignated in 1907 as The Canadian Ordnance Corps (Go 194-1907), and was given royal approval in 1919 by King George V to incorporate the prefix “Royal” into its designation for outstanding service performed during World War 1.



Non-Permanent Corps (Militia)


Organized 1 April 1912 and reorganized again on 1 September 192l, but it was not until 1936 that this component was authorized to adopt the “Royal” designation.





On 30 Oct 1958, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was graciously pleased to assume the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.  This signal honour was published in the Canada Gazette of 8 Nov 1958.l


Below is the text of the telegram sent Her Majesty on behalf of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps and her acknowledgment:



a.                                                                                                     1735 hrs 30 Oct 1958


            Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second, Buckingham Palace, London.


The Honorary Colonel Commandant, The Director of Ordnance Services, Officers, Warrant Officers, Non Commissioned Officers and Men of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps wish to express heartfelt gratitude and deep pride in the honour you have bestowed on the Corps by your gracious acceptance of the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief and wish to reaffirm most steadfast loyalty on this occasion.


Signed:  Brigadier HB Keenleyside

Honorary Colonel Commandant

c/o Directorate of Ordnance Services


Army Headquarters, Ottawa.


b.                                                            Buckingham Palace, London, 1700 hrs

31 Oct 1958


                        Brigadier HB Keenleyside

                        Honorary Colonel Commandant,

                        Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps

                        c/o Directorate of Ordnance Services,

                        Army Headquarters, Ottawa.

I thank you for your kind telegram and send my best wishes to all ranks of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.

                                    Signed:  Elizabeth R





The Colonel Commandant:


a.         Provides the channel of communication with the Colonel-in-Chief.


b.        Fosters esprit de corps thoughout the Corps.


c.         Advises Canadian Forces Headquarters as appropriate in his capacity as Colonel Commandant.

d.        Acts in an advisory capacity to the Corps Association and to unit commanders in matters pertaining to the Corps so that uniformity is maintained in such matters as dress and customs.


e.         Advises on regimental charities, organizations and memorials.


f.          Maintains close liaison between the regular and militia units of the Corps.


g.         Keeps in contact with the RCOC’s allied Corps, the RAOC.


Recommendations for the appointment of Colonel Commandant are made to the Minister of National Defence by the Chief of the Defence Staff.  Nominations are submitted to the Chief of the Defence Staff by the Head of the Corps after consultation with the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Association and other senior officers of the Corps.


Past and present Colonel Commandants or their equivalence, and date of appointment, are:

                        Major General RK Scott, CB, CMG, DSO – 22 May 1930

                        Victor Sifton Esq, CBE, DSO – 27 Jan 1949

                        Major General JH MacQueen, BCE – 18 May 1952

                        Brigadier HB Keenleyside, CBE – 15 Mar 1957

                        Major General FJ Fleury, CBE, ED, CD – 9 Oct 1962




Since the birth of the Corps in 1903 it has been administered or “guided” regimentally by a Director.  Though the detailed terminology of his title has changed from time to time it has never wandered far from the time-honoured form of “Director of Ordnance Services” or “DOS”.  During the past 60 years this senior appointment in the Corps has been filled as follows:


Director General of Ordnance

Col DA Macdonald ISO                                                                                     1 Jul 03 – 30 Nov 04


Director of Clothing and Equipment

Lt Col JB Donaldson                                                                            31 Dec 04 – 31 Mar 08

Lt Col RK Scott DSO                                                                            1 Apr 08 – 21 May 10

Col JF MacDonald                                                                               22 May 10 – 29 Jan 18

Col W Hallick                                                                                      30 Jan 18 –   24 Sep 22

Col GA Taschereau                                                                              24 Sep 22 –     1 Jan 23

Col MC Gillin                                                                                          1 Jun 23 – 30 Apr 29

Col GP Loggie                                                                                        1 May 29 – 3 Apr 36


Director of Equipment and Ordnance Services

Col EJ Renaud                                                                                     1 May 36 – 29 Sep 37


Director of Ordnance Services and Officer Administering

Col EJ Renaud                                                                                     30 Sep 37 –  20 Jul 38


Director of Ordnance Services

Col JH MacQueen                                                                               21 Jul 38 –  16 Oct 39


Director of Ordnance Services                                                        Director Of Ordnance Services

                    (IOS)                                                                             (A)


Lt Col SV Cooke                                                                     Lt Col RNC Bishop

1 Apr 40 – 31 Aug 40                                                  17 Oct 39 – 7 Jul 41

Lt Col RJ Henderson                                                    Col HA Campbell

            2 Apr 41 – 14 May 42                                                 8 Jul 41 – 31 Dec 42

Col GW Cavvey MC MM                                                       Col RP Saunders DSO MC

            2 Aug 42 – 31 Dec 42                                                  1 Jan 43 – 14 Sep 45

Col FC Thomson                                                                      Col AT Smith OBE

            1 Jan 43 – 30 Sep 45                                                   15 Sep 45 – 14 Nov 45

Col JG Pope

            1 Oct 45 – 8 May 46


Director of Ordnance Services



Mr HJ Stevenson

            1 Sep 40 – 27 Apr 41

Col RA MacFarlane

            28 Apr 41 – 26 Jun 42

Col ED James

            10 Jan 43 – 21 Nov 45


Director Of Ordnance Services

                    (TS)                                                                             (GS)


Col SV Cooke                                                             Mr TD Switzer

            1 Sep 40 – 31 Jul 41                                                    4 Nov 40 – 27 Apr 41

Mr JV Young                                                               Col HB Keenleyside

            1 Aug 41 – 10 Sep 41                                                  5 Nov 41 – 24 Feb 42

Col W Mavor MC                                                       Col JI McSloy

            1 Nov 41 – 30 Sep 42                                                 1 May 42 – 1 Jan 43

Col G le B Ross                                                                       Col GW Cavey MC OBE MM

            1 Nov 45 – 30 Sep 46                                                 1 Jan 43 – 31 Jul 43

Col WG Denney OBE                                                  Col R McColm

            1 Nov 45 – 30 Sep 46                                                 1 Aug 4 – 7 Apr 46


Director Of Ordnance Services

            (AS & DB)                                                                           (SK)

Col WGB Dailley                                                         Mr CS Pipe

            1 Aug 42 – 31 Jul 45                                                    1 Jan 43 – 6 June 45

                                                                                    Col EH Cabeldu

                                                                                                7 June 45 – 7 Oct 45


Director Of Ordnance Services


Col WG Denney OBE                                                                          1 Oct 46 – 30 Aug 47

Col AT Smith OBE ED                                                                                    31 Aug 47 – 17 Jan 51

Col DG Ketcheson OBE CD                                                                18 Jan 51 – 5 Sep 55

Col JB Allan CD                                                                                              6 Sep 55 – 13 Jun 58

Col EG Shannon OBE CD                                                                               14 Jun 58 – 24 Jul 60

Col DE Mounteer CD

            (Acting DOS)                                                                           13 Jun 60 – 27 Nov 60

Col BM Webb CD                                                                               28 Nov 60 – 19 Mar 61

Col DE Mounteer CD                                                                          21 Mar 61 – 14 Jul 63

Col RT Bennett OBE CC                                                                                 26 Aug 63 – 31 Jul 64


Wartime field appointments ranged from Deputy Directors (DDOS) at Army and Corps HQ, through Assistant Directors (ADOS) at Army and Corps Troops HQ, and Divisional HQ down to Deputy Assistant Directors (DADOS) at Independent Brigade HQ.


On 1 Aug 64, each Corps in the Canadian Army ceased to be headed by a Director and for a four month period “Officers Administering” were appointed by name to assume the duties and responsibilities previously held by the Corps Director.  On 30 Nov the Corps OA was superseded by a Head of Corps (Commandant 25 COD – Col DH Power, MBE, CD, - in the case of the RCOC) except for the responsibility for advising on personnel which was vested in a specified Corps officer located at CFHQ.




For many centuries – indeed perhaps as long as there have been organized military units – the appointment of quartermaster has been significant in armies.  Until recent times the British Army almost invariably rewarded an outstanding RSM by appointing him quartermaster of his battalion, thus ensuring the unit an experienced officer who knew the unit thoroughly and would prove difficult to mislead or beguile.


As the complexities of the Army and its material increased, an officer with greater professional technical knowledge of the problems that surround stores management was required for the Quartermaster’s duties.  Under authority of CAO 201 – 16 dated 8 February 1954, the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps assumed these responsibilities and undertook to train and provide unit quartermasters and staff for all Corps of the Canadian Army (Regular) except the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, Royal Canadian army Medical Corps and Royal Canadian Dental Corps.




The Conductor and Sub-Conductor appointments were first introduced into the Canadian Army (Canadian Ordnance Corps) in November 1903.  Additional pay was awarded for these appointments.  The appointments were abolished on re-enrolment in the Canadian Army Active Force from the Canadian Active Service on 1 October 1946, but were subsequently re-introduced in August 1958 as privileged appointments (i.e., without pay).


The appointments of Conductor and Sub-Conductor have a long and very interesting historical background in the British Army.  Perhaps the earliest recorded mention of Conductors is that in a Statute of Westminster of 1327 whereby Edward III enacted that wages of Conductors (Conveyors) of soldiers from the Shires to the place of Assembly would no longer be a charge upon the Shire.


As long ago as the Siege of Boulogne in 1544 there were Conductors of Ordnance.  There were also Conductors in the train of artillery assembled in 1618.  At the capture of Newfoundland in 1762, Lieutenant-General Amherst’s force included a Conductor and a Clerk of Stores.  These officials were from the Board of Ordnance depots at New York and Halifax respectively.


Thomas Simes, in his book “The Military Guide for Young Officers”, dated 1776, writes:  “Conductors as assistants to the Commissary of the Stores, to receive or deliver out stores to the Army, to attend at the magazines by turns when in garrison and to look after the ammunition wagons in the field; they bring their accounts every night to the Commissary and are immediately under his command”.


By Royal Warrant of 11 January, 1879, a class of Warrant Officers was constituted, “to assist in the discharge of the subordinate duties of the Commissariat and Transport and of the Ordnance Store Departments of our Army, to be denominated ‘Conductors of Supplies’ and ‘Conductors of Stores’ respectively.  Their position in our Army shall be inferior to that of all commissioned officers and superior to that of all non-commissioned officers.  Conductors shall at the same time have full power to exercise command over any subordinates of the Departments of our Army, or non-commissioned officers or soldiers of our Army, who may be placed under their orders”.


In March, May and June, 1879, thirty-five Conductors of Stores were appointed, viz, sixteen from the Royal Artillery and two from the Royal Engineers, while the remaining seventeen were already serving with the Ordnance Store Branch of the first Army Service Corps which became the Ordnance Store Corps in September 1881.


The title Conductor of Supplies was abolished in 1892 and that of Staff Sergeant Major 1st class substituted.  A Conductor, a Master Gunner 1st class, and a Staff Sergeant Major 1st class ranked with one another according to the date of their promotion or appointment, or by Corps precedence if promoted or appointed on the same day.


From 1879 to 1897 there is no reference to badges of rank for Conductors and Sub-Conductors, but on 20 February 1897, an official minute records the following, “Badges for Conductors, Army Ordnance Corps, for wear with khaki drill – various proposals put forward, i.e., crown, crown with laurel wreath, officers shoulder straps, VR, officers field cap badge- but nothing definite decided”.  On 11 July, 1900, however, it was decreed that Army Ordnance Corps Conductors and Sub-Conductors would in future wear distinguishing badges, viz, crown in wreath, gold on scarlet for Conductors and crown gold large on scarlet for Sub-Conductors.  These were obviously full dress badges.


It would appear that by 1898 Sub-Conductors had been raised to senior warrant rank because in the clothing regulations for that year they are bracketed with Conductors and shown as having no badge.  There seems to be no  direct evidence as to when the practice started, but from 1898 to 1909, Conductors and Sub-Conductors wore gorget patches on khaki drill, the patches being dark blue edged with 1/8 inch scarlet material.  For some years therefore these warrant officers wore both rank badges and gorget patches on khaki drill frocks.


In 1901 the crown within a wreath was officially introduced as the badge for the Conductor, Army Ordnance Corps and the Staff Sergeant Major 1st class, Army Service Corps.  For some inexplicable reason the Sub-Conductors had to wait till 1904 for their badge, i.e., the large crown, to be introduced.  Following the introduction of the rank of Warrant Officer class II, in February, 1915, there appeared an army order specifying the badges to be worn by Warrant Officers class I and II.  In this order, the Conductor wore the crown and wreath, while the Sub-Conductor wore the Royal Arms.  It was not until October, 1918, however that the badges of rank question was settled, viz, for a Conductor the royal Arms and Wreath, and for a Sub-Conductor the Royal Arms, as it is today.


So it will be seen that in early days the title Conductor meant a person who “conducted” persons or things from place to place.  Since 1879, however, the Conductor in the Army has held a senior and responsible position, particularly in the Ordnance Corps, where he has exerted an influence as a pillar of knowledge and strength to the Ordnance Officer and to the young man making his career in the ranks of the Corps.




The earliest recorded mention of the appointment of Master-General of the Ordnance in the Canadian Militia was when, in 1904, the office of Director-General of the Ordnance was merged into a new Branch of the MGO, which was embraced the Directorate of Artillery and the Directorate of Engineer Services.  This followed by almost 500 years the original appointment in the British Army, when, in 1417, the “Master of Ordnance” succeeded the “Attiliator”.


Officers holding this appointment in recent times and connected with the Ordnance Corps were:

Victor Sifton Esq., CBE, DSO – 1 December 1940

Major General JH MacQueen, CBE – 1 July 1945


The Ordnance Directorate at Defence Headquarters in Ottawa was, under various designations, a component until 1936 of the Quartermaster-General Branch.  Not until then did it fall within the purview of the MGO, where it remained until its re-absorption into that of the Quartermaster-General Branch in 1947 when the MGO Branch ceased to exist.




            The Ordnance Distinguishing Pennant


This pennant, now obsolete but previously flown by Ordnance to mark its location was a blue triangular flag with a red circular patch in the centre.  Its use goes back as far as the Crimean War as a Depot pennant.


109.02.            In 1866 an authority was in existence for the flying of this pennant over storehouses and depots which is the earliest official reference known.  Army circulars of September 1877 state that “the Ordnance Stores Department will wear a blue distinguishing flag with a red centre and Equipment Regulations will be altered accordingly”.  This instruction was cancelled in January 1878 by List of Changes of War Material No. 3274, under Distinguishing Flags for the Ordnance Stores Department as follows:


“Patterns of the under-mentioned flag have been sealed to govern supply for the purpose of marking the position of Ordnance Stores Depot in Camp”


“Ordnance Stores Department.  Flags Distinguishing Blue with Red centre 6; x 4’ (for Divisional Units)”


On 1 October 1897 List of Changes No 8826 introduced a Mark III pennant which altered the scarlet to red bunting to conform with Admiralty Flags.  In July 1898 List of Changes No 9099 changed the size of the pennant from 6’ x 4’ to 3’ x 2’.


Canadian Ordnance used this distinguishing pennant throughout its existence and in two world wars up until the official adoption of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps flag in 1952.


The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Flag 



The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps does not have colours in the military meaning commonly associated with that of the Cavalry and Infantry, but has the unique distinction of flying a flag which embraces the Union flag in its upper canton next to the flag staff.


The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps is the only Corps in the Canadian Army that has had this singular privilege bestowed upon it and which traditionally commenced through its parent corps, the royal Army Ordnance Corps, as far back as 1694 when the seal of the board of Ordnance was added to and flown with the red ensign of its day to mark the authority in matters pertaining to it.


The design was submitted by the Director of Ordnance Services on 23 April 1947 for approval and was promulgated in CAO 54-3 on 1 December 1952.  A later amendment made to Canadian Army Orders in 1964 defines the flag as follows:


“On a blue field, the Union Flag in the upper left hand corner; on the fly end a green maple leaf 12 inches high; superimposed on the maple leaf, in full colour, the royal Canadian Ordnance Corps badge in the design approved by the Sovereign in December 1963, height of badge 6 ½ inches”.


The proper size of this flag is 6 ft by 3 ft.





The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps badge is described heraldically as follows:

On a field of scarlet, a shield, with the Ordnance Arms, azure, three field pieces, or, in pale, and on a chief argent, three cannon balls, sable, the whole environed with the Gater, in blue, and inscribed in gilt the Garter motto “Honi soit Que Mal Y Pense”.  Below a scroll of scarlet inscribed in gilt with the description “Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps”.  The whole ensigned with the St Edward Crown.


Development of Corps Badge in Canada





In 1904 under General Order .36 – 1904 the first Canadian Ordnance Badge received official approval.  It depicts the board of Ordnance shield surmounted by a beaver.  The beaver was selected as something typically Canadian to distinguish the new badge from that of the similar badge of the parent British Corps.


By 1907 a helmet plate was produced for wear on officers’ full dress helmets.  This followed very closely the general basic design for all helmet plates used during the period.  The change of designation to Canadian Ordnance Corps in the same year did not alter the cap or collar badge designs.  However, a shoulder badge bearing the letters CPOC (Canadian Permanent Ordnance corps) was taken into wear to indicate the change in Corps designation.  When the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force proceeded overseas in 1914 these badges, with the exception of the helmet plate, were worn by members of the Corps in that contingent and continued tin wear throughout World War I.


When the prefix “Royal” was added to the title of the corps in 1919 a change in design of the Corps badge followed as approved by General Order 46 – 1922.  As will be seen from the illustrations the Crown replaced the Beaver as the crest of the badge.  The insignia of the royal Garter was introduced to support the shield and crest and the letters RCOC on a scroll were added at the base.  This left no place for the Canadian beaver but the national touch was retained by circling the royal Garter with a wreath of maple leaves.


The non-permanent active militia component of the Corps was organized by General Orders on 1 April 1912 and to differentiate between the permanent active militia and the non-permanent active militia a new shoulder badge was adopted for that component simply by the deletion of the letter “P”.  This seems to have been an accepted practice during this period especially for Corps whose badges were common to the permanent and non-permanent components.  The non-permanent component of the Corps was not permitted to use the prefix “Royal” despite a reorganization of this component by General Orders of 1 September 1921, and continued to wear the old 1903 badge.


In 1926 the present version of the Corps badge was authorized by General Order 48-1926.  This change made the badge slightly larger and followed the trend of giving more prominence to the Corps name.  The wreath of maple leaves was removed and the basic scroll enlarged to accommodate the Corps name in full.  With the word “Canadian” appearing on the badge it appears that the maple leaves were considered redundant.  The present badge was an excellent combination of the best features of modern and ancient heraldic art.  Once again however this change was restricted to components of the permanent active militia only.


In 1936 the non-permanent active militia were authorized to adopt the prefix “Royal” and all components of the Corps wore the badges as authorized by General Order 48-1926.


In accordance with the wishes of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II after her coronation, the St Edward Crown replaced the Tudor Crown on practically all heraldic devices thus effecting the fourth change to the Corps badge.


The present design was developed by the Royal college of Heralds and accepted for use on 24 April 1961, though it was not formally approved by Her Majesty until 20 Dec ’63.  The original, displaying the royal mark of approval, hangs in the Corps Museum.




The Order of Precedence of the Canadian Army is based on the dates of the British Army component and not on the formation dates of those units when they became part of the Canadian Army.  Canadian Army Order 220 – 3 ranks The royal Canadian Ordnance Corps as eleventh in order of precedence and fourth in the service component of the Canadian Army.


When The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps and The Royal Canadian Engineers were established on 1 July1903, The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps became historically the first regular service component of the Canadian Army and with The Royal Canadian Engineers second to The Royal Canadian Artillery on a combined Arms and Service Basis.




Under authority of General Order Number 72 of 1942 with effective date of 25 November, 1941, and the pertinent Order in Council PC 45/1450 dated 24 February, 1942, The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps was declared a combatant corps as follows:

“It is hereby declared that all officers and other ranks of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps are combatant in the fullest possible sense and will be so recognized in future”.

With the above declaration was a proviso setting forth a small limitation in para 220 of K.R. (Can) 1939.  However, under authority of General Order 459 of 1944 all restrictions and limitations were cancelled, thereby making the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps a combatant corps without reservation.




The first RCOC School of Instruction was established in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1923.


Three years later the School was moved to Winnipeg where it functioned for thirteen years.  On the organization of the CASF in 1939 the School became A-21 Training Centre located at Barriefield, Ontario.  Finally in the Fall of 1945 the Royal Canadian Ordnance School was established within the Longue Pointe Garrison, Montreal, where it has remained to date.


The school provides Corps and specialist training for all RCOC personnel; specialist training for military and civilian personnel of other Corps of the Army and the RCN, the RCAF, and other government departments; and a two year course in academic and military subjects for soldier apprentices.


In addition to training, the School studies, develops and reviews doctrine and procedures dealing with all phases of ordnance services, prepares Army trade specifications, standards, trades tests, new Canadian Army Manuals of Training and amendments to existing publications, and conducts user trials.  Established within the School are model stores depots and unit quartermaster stores complexes designed for use as training aids and as field trial centres for current and proposed ordnance procedures.


While not an integral part of the RCOC School, the Joint Services Packaging School is located with the RCOC School, and the Commandant of the RCOC School is responsible for its administration.  The Joint Services Packaging School trains officers and men of the RCN, the Army and the RCAF, civilians employed with the three services and selected civilians from industry, in the latest methods of preserving and packaging military stores.




The evolution of the RCOC Museum began during the period 1955 – 1959 when the RCOC school exhibited items of early uniforms, buttons, badges and photographs in the hallway of the main instructional building.


In 1959 representation was made to the Director of Ordnance Service to authorize a Corps museum, and on 31 August 1959, the Director of Ordnance Services, then Colonel EG Shannon, OBE, CD, so ordered.  On 2 November 1962, on the occasion of the RCOC Association Annual Meeting, the Director of Ordnance Services, then Colonel DE Mounteer, CD, officially opened the Museum in Building 116, Longue Pointe, at a tape cutting ceremony.


When visiting the Longue Pointe Garrison members and ex-members of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps are particularly urged to visit the museum.




A Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Band was first formed in Ottawa on 11 January 1935, when fifteen bandsmen of both the Permanent and Non-Permanent Force assembled at the Morris Building for their firs rehearsal under the direction of the Director of Music, Mr A Cronsdale.  Within a year its strength was close to 50 and so remained until it was forced to disband at the outbreak of World War II.


SDI letter 56 – 1 dated 11 January 1956, authorized the formation of the present RCOC Band with a strength of fifty-five, effective 4 January 1956.  By 1 May 1956 a total of nineteen bandsmen had been enrolled and by December 1958 the band was at full strength of the band was reduced to forty-five all ranks as follows:

1   Captain, Director of Music

1   Band Warrant Officer Class 1

1   Band Warrant Officer Class 2

6   Band Staff Sergeants

36 Band Sergeants


Lieutenant CJE Gagnier, LRAM, ARCM, LGSM was appointed the first Commanding Officer and Director of Music.


In May 1963 The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Band was presented by all ranks of the Corps with nine Coronation Fanfare Trumpets purchased through the sale of articles commemorating the royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Diamond Jubilee Year 1963.  Officially, they were first used on the Corps Diamond Jubilee Day, 23 Jun 1963, to herald the arrival of the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Honourable Paul Comtois, who officiated at a ceremony held at Longue Pointe.




Regimental March


The Regimental March of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, “The Village Blacksmith”, is also that of its allied Corps the RAOC.  It is a traditional old English air whose age and composer are, unfortunately, unknown.


It is used as a quick march at the regulation infantry rate of 120 paces to the minute, but is more readily adaptable as a slow march at 65 paces to the minute.  It is used for either as the occasion demands.


Bugle Calls


All officers’ calls, mess calls and parade calls sounded by the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Band are the standard calls published in the pamphlet “Trumpet and Bugle Calls for the Canadian Army 1961”.  In addition, fanfares are sounded as a salute to visiting dignitaries on special occasions.




In April 1963 The RCOC Band, under the direction of Lieutenant CA Villeneuve, CD, LRAM, ARMC, made a recording of the Regimental marches of the Canadian Army for the RCA Victor Company.  This record which was made to commemorate the Corps Diamond Jubilee, is available both as a monaural record, No LCP 1062, and as a stereo recording No LCPS 1062.




The Officers’ Mess of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps located at Longue Pointe Barracks, Montreal, is the Home Mess of the Corps.


All officers and retired officers of the Corps are particularly encouraged to visit their Home Mess whilst visiting Montreal.




The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps CA(R) Officers’ Fund was established under authority of directorate of Administration Bulletin 53/1 dated 3 February 1953, the purpose of which is to provide a general fund for the purchase of articles for the benefit of regular officers of the Corps, or for such other purposes as may be authorized, and also to administer any donations received by the Fund.


All proposals made, or decisions taken, in any way concerning the Fund are subject to the approval of the Head of the Corps or an officer acting on his behalf.




The RCDOC Memorial, a large rough hewn block of granite, located directly in front of the Officers’ Mess at Longue Pointe, Montreal, was unveiled by the honourable Brooke Claxton, then Minister of National Defence, on November 3rd 1961.  Sealed within the Memorial is the Roll of Honour bearing the names of the 355 all ranks of the RCOC who made the supreme sacrifice in two world wars.


On November 3rd 1961, a small casket containing soil from the Canadian Military Cemeteries in France was presented to the RCOC from the Regiment de la Chaudiere.  The soil had originally been received from Countess Hettier de Boislambert, “Godmother of the Regiment”, and placed in small caskets for presentation to other corps.  Colonel DE Mounteer, CD, in an impressive ceremony deposited the casket in a special concrete plinth at the base of the Memorial.




Toward the end of World War II a number of senior Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps officers recognized the desirability of forming an association for officers who had served in the Corps, but who might not continue to serve in the regular force.  The Department of National Defence on 9 March 1945, authorized the formation of The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Association, and early in 1946 the Association was recognized by the Conference of Defence Associations.


Not until 20 April 1948, was a constitution adopted to provide for a conventional regimental association, solely concerned with Corps matters.  Major General JH McQueen, CBE, was elected its first president.


The aims of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Association as it exists today are to further the interest of, and to attain the greatest possible efficiency in the regular and reserve components of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.


A general meeting of the Association is held annually with representation from all regional Branches and each Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Militia Unit.  A national executive is elected and resolutions approved for submission to the Conference of Defence Associations.




Officers who are serving or have served at any time in the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, or its Commonwealth associates, may become members of the Association, though members serving in the Regular Force are not entitled to hold office.




When it was decided to train officer cadets of the Canadian Officers Training Corps at the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps School commencing in 1947, the presentation of a Sword of Honour, in keeping with a long established tradition in the British and Canadian Armies, was made as an annual award to the outstanding officer cadet of the graduating class.


For some years the Sword of Honour, though presented to the honour cadet, was retained by the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps School.  The sword was mounted on a suitable background, to which was added each year a brass plate bearing the name of the recipient.  In 1956 the selectee was given a sword for retention in addition to the name plate on the board on which the original Sword of Honour is mounted.




The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps reaffirms its loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen through its Colonel Commandant on Christmas Day and the anniversary of the Corps on 1 July.


Loyal greetings are also forwarded on Her Majesty’s Birthday and on other occasions when warranted.




In the Corps “Ordnance Day” is 1 July, the anniversary of its Birthday in 1903.




Saint Barbara, whose name-day is marked as 4 December, is the patron saint of the RCOC as well as all artillerymen.  The history of Saint Barbara carries us back to the early third century of the Christian era – the scene being variously given as Heliopolis in Egypt, or Nocomedia in Bithynia.  The legend was developed by the Crusaders.


Barbara, a maiden of singular beauty and of lofty and noble disposition, yearned to condemn the false gods of her parents and secretly embraced Christianity.  Because of this her father imprisoned her in a dungeon and denounced her to the Roman proconsul Martian.  Martian, after fruitless, endeavours to persuade her to sacrifice to the gods, inflicted on her cruel tortures before giving the order for her execution by her father.  Thereon befell a fearful tempest with thunder and lightning; fire from Heaven descended upon the cruel father, consuming him utterly, while a second flash reduced Martian to a heap of ashes!


Hence, in later days, the martyr was invoked against lightning or other forms of sudden death, and she was endowed in the popular mind with power over thunder and lightning and fiery elements.


St. Barbara became Patroness of Chivalry, holding a place equal with her contemporary and fellow-martyr, St. George, the Patron Saint of England.  She represented the active and warlike, as opposed to the contemplative life.  She inspired the virtues of fortitude and constancy and was Patroness of the Man-at-Arms and the Knight.  But she stood for wisdom as well as courage, resembling in this her prototype of the old Greek myth.


St Barbara, then, was Patron Saint of Chivalry and Knighthood.  An important office on the establishment of the Knight was that of the Armourer.  It was indeed the duty of the Esquire or aspirant to Knighthood to look after his knight’s armour.  Armourers and armour, therefore, came under her patronage.  Here is a link between the Saint and a section of the Corps, and a hint of the high honour attached to this calling in the days of chivalry.


On the invention of gunpowder and the introduction of Ordnance, the commonfold saw something uncanny in the hidden death that darted flaming and roaring from the cannon’s mouth; man had somehow usurped power over thunder and lightning!  This conception brought guns, gunpowder and other explosives, and the arsenals where they were stored, under the patronage of St. Barbara.  She naturally became also proctectress of all who were connected with guns, of the gunsmiths from which honourable craft the Armament Artificers were lineally descended, and of gunners.  To this day the gunners’ rooms in French battleships are called after her, “St. Barbe”, and her name-day, the 4th of December, is a festival among French gunners.


St. Barbara’s protection further extends to miners and to fortifications.  She held sway then over the three branches of the service – Ordnance, Artillery and Engineers.


Thus the legend, attributes, and medieval cult of St. Barbara carry implicitly in them the name and origin, the personnel, the material supply, and the buildings of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.


Corps Chapel


On 4 Dec 64 unique religious ceremony was held at the Longue Pointe Garrison Protestant Chapel of St. Andrew when it became the RCOC Protestant Chapel and was re-designated the Chapel of St. Barbara.  At the same time a stained glass window depicting the Patron Saint was offered by the 25 COD Unit Fund and dedicated by the Command Chaplain.




The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps is allied with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps under authority of General Order 27/21 and as notified in British Army Order No 499 of 1920.


The RAOC – RCOC alliance is shown in current editions for both British and Canadian Army Lists.




Major RG Thompson was a popular and well known officer of the Corps who died after a protracted illness on 29 Apr 51.  He had served with distinction in both the Italian and NEW campaigns of World War II, as well as establishing himself as a worthy athlete who enjoyed and participated in sports of all types.  Despite his progressive physical deterioration he graduated as top student of the Captain to Major Qualifying Course from the RCOC School in the autumn of 1950.  Ironically his promotion to major preceded his death by five days.


Soon after his death, six Corps Officers – Lt Cols RT Bennett, DE Mounteer, DH Power and TJ Green, Major MC Watson and Lieut GF Parker-who had been closely associated with him, presented a golf trophy in his memory to be competed for annually by officers of the Corps.  Since that date interest and enthusiasm for the competition has been such that tournaments have been played each year anywhere in the world where Corps golfers are to be found.


The annual competition is supervised by the RCOC School.  The memorial trophy is retained for posterity in the Corps Mess though each winner is presented with a token prize and his name in inscribed on the trophy.  




For general interest, the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps no longer exists in the Canadian Military. The above history was taken from the Corps Standing Orders and relates to how it was before integration. When the Canadian Forces integrated in the late 60's early 70's the Corps was dissolved and The Logistics Branch was formed, creating a Supply trade from all three former components; Army, Navy and Air Force. The Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps Association though, still exists and is now a combination of all ranks who once served in the Corps. As can be expected, the numbers grow smaller every year, but we will not forget our heritage.


Bill Hicks

RCOC Apprentice 63-65

Retired 1996