Case study in uniforms of the Canadian Army: J.J. McCullough

This past week, my friend JJ made this comic picking at the Canadian relationship with its Crown. It included drawings of two soldiers, and in light of this blog’s recent spotlight on the Canadian Forces, I thought I’d take a look at the uniforms and see what we can learn from them, as a sort of case study.

Here’s the first one.


Let’s start with his rank. From the two gold stripes on the epaulets, he is an officer holding the rank of a captain. But if that’s the case, then the red sash he’s wearing makes no sense, because it’s only worn by senior non-commissioned officers in the infantry regiments: sergeants and the warrant officers. And speaking of infantry, let’s move on to guessing his regiment.

The biggest clue is the kilt. Only 16 regiments in the Canadian Army have kilts as part of their full dress uniform: The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment), The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, The Nova Scotia Highlanders, The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh’s Own), The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment, The 48th Highlanders of Canada, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s), The Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, The Calgary Highlanders, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s), The Irish Regiment of Canada, and The Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Own). Only three of them, however, wear a hat like the one in the picture: a Glengarry cap with a red and white diced border. Of those three, the Calgary Highlanders only wear the Glengarry with a red coat, and the tartan of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is blue and green, with no red. Therefore, by a process of elimination, the soldier is a member of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, an infantry regiment of the 4th Canadian Division, which wears a Glengarry with a red and white border (although they do not have a white hackle in the cap as shown here), a green coatee, and a red, blue and green tartan kilt. Which, considering that this event is taking place in Vancouver, and the SDGH is headquartered in Cornwall, Ontario, on the other side of the country, is a little odd.

Assuming he is a member of the SDGH, we can pick apart the finer details of his uniform. His cap badge ought to look like a silver saltire (X-shaped cross) behind a green circle – the regiment’s badge. It should match the sporran badge, and the collar badges too, although the current collar badges look a bit like the badge of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, which would also be acceptable to use.

We can dismiss his four medals out of hand as being completely fabricated: none of them match up to any medal issued to the Canadian Forces, especially the two on the right, as no medal ribbon has horizontal stripes, since they’d be difficult to represent on ribbon bars.

Now, the second one:


First, his service branch, which is a bit of a mystery. Usually this can be easily divined by the colour of the uniform, but his uniform isn’t blue enough for him to be in the Air Force, and not green enough for the Army. More on this later.

Next, there is the matter of his rank. The epaulets are fully blank, which are only worn by newly recruited privates, but the thin gold stripe on his sleeve is the mark of an officer cadet. Both make sense, since they’d both be ranks taking the Oath of Loyalty.

Then there is his regiment. The key here is the beret. The only members of the Forces who wear maroon berets are members of the Army who are trained as paratroopers; therefore, the man is in the Army.

There are seven regiments in the Canadian Army with paratrooper battalions: The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, 5 Combat Engineer Regiment, The Royal Canadian Regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, The Royal 22e Régiment, and The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Of these, only the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers have a cap badge with a similar colour scheme to the one here (red ringed with gold), so, since the man is taking the oath in English, and  5 Combat Engineer Regiment is mostly French, the soldier is likely from the  2 Combat Engineer Regiment, likely a long-time NCO (judging from the paratrooper designation and the medals, which are also fabricated like the last ones) just now being commissioned as an officer in the Army. If that’s the case, then he should be wearing Engineer’s collar badges, which are smaller versions of his cap badge, instead of what appear to be Infantry collar badges – which are crooked, on top of that.

While I’m on the subject of this picture, you’ll notice that the RCMP officer has two stripes on his epaulets. Those ought to be chevrons, not stripes, and two would indicate that he is a Corporal. The star on his sleeve is for 5 years of good service, and the cross below it looks to be the award for marksmanship with rifles.

Much more problematic is the judge’s robes. Firstly, his barrister’s tabs look like they were tied around his neck like a cravat, where in fact the tabs are a single strip of fabric folded over, with a string attached to the fold so they can be tied around the back like a bib. Secondly, his medal’s ribbon most closely resembles that of a Member of the Order of Canada, but lacking the unique “snowflake” design of the medal. But perhaps most grievously, no Canadian judge wears a blue sash. Most judges’ sashes are red, although Ontario justices of the peace and Nova Scotia Family Court judges wear green sashes, and sashes of Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and Provincial Court judges are black. Robes with blue edging are worn by provincial court judges in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick.


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