The Canadian tradition of appointing Honorary Officers to units originated with the British military but has only been in practice in Canada for a little over a century.
The first Honorary Colonel appointment in Canada was that of former Queen’s Own Rifleman Lieutenant-Colonel the Honorable J.M. Gibson, a Provincial Secretary in the Ontario Government. He was appointed as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel to the 13th Battalion of Infantry in 1895.
There are different types of Honorary appointments in the Canadian Army: Colonel-in-Chief, Colonel of the Regiment, Honorary Colonel and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel. In the Reserve Army, units usually have two Honorary positions: Honorary Colonel and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel.
Early in the 20th century in Canada Sir Robert Borden described the practice of appointing Honoraries as “of greatest advantage to the Militia to be able to enlist the interest and sympathy of gentleman of position and wealth by connecting them to Regiments.”
That sentiment remains true today. The Honorary is seen to be the guardian of Regimental traditions and history, promoting the regiment’s identity and ethos and being an advisor to the Commanding Officer on virtually all issues excluding operations.
Units select individuals, often former serving members, who they believe will best promote the interests of the unit and request the approval for the Honorary appointment through the chain of command.
Colonels in Chief
In the British and other Commonwealth armies, the Colonel-in-Chief of a regiment is its patron and is generally a member of the British Royal Family. While they do not have operational roles, they are however kept informed of all important activities of the regiment, and pay occasional visits to its operational units.
Many Canadian Regiments are honoured by having members of British Royalty as their Colonel-in Chief, and The Queen’s Own is no exception:
- Until 1959, almost 100 years after its founding, The Queen’s Own had only one Colonel-in-Chief, Her Majesty Queen Mary served from 1928 until her death in 1953. A popular and highly intelligent individual, Queen Mary was known for setting the tone of the Royal Family at a remarkably high level.
- In 1959 Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra of Kent , graciously consented to assume the role of the Regiment’s second Colonel-in-Chief and continues to be a valuable asset to The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Princess Alexandra’s father, Prince George, the Duke of Kent was killed in 1942, whilst on active service with the Royal Air Force. After serving as Colonel in Chief for over fifty years, she felt it was time to step down at the 150th Anniversary celebrations.
- As of January 1, 2011, our new Colonel-in-Chief Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is already familiar with rifle green in that she is Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion Rifles in Great Britain. Additionally, her father, Major Bruce Middleton Hope Shand, MC and Bar was a decorated World War Two soldier who was awarded the Military Cross, first for his bravery in action at Dunkirk and later in North Africa
Colonels of the Regiment
Effective August 19, 1958 an amendment to Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Army stated that in the case of a regiment having a regular Army component, a Colonel of the Regiment could be appointed. As Lieutenant Colonel Johnston was in the midst of his term as Honorary Colonel, he was appointed the following month as the first Colonel of the Regiment.
- September 25 1958 to February 3, 1960 – Lieutenant Colonel Baptist Leonard Johnston OBE, VD (joined the QOR as a Rifleman in 1907)
- March 10, 1960 to May 7, 1970 – Colonel J. G. K Strathy, OBE, ED
- Aug 17, 1900 to Nov 18, 1914 – Field Marshal Ear Roberts of Kandahar, Pretoria and Waterford VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE
- Apr 8, 1915 to May 8, 1929 – General Sir William Dillon Otter KCB, CVO, VD
- Jun 20 – 1929 to Mar 8, 1939 – Major General Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, CVO, VD
- Mar 9, 1939 to Dec 17, 1949 – Major General Robert Rennie CB, CMG, DSO, MVO, VD
- Feb 1, 1951 to Jan 31, 1956 – Colonel Reginald Pellatt VD
- Feb 1, 1956 to Sep 24, 1958 – Lieutenant Colonel Baptist Johnston OBE, VD
While there were Colonels of the Regiment from 1958 to 1970, there were no Honorary Colonels.
- May 8, 1970 to Dec, 1975 – Colonel C. O. Dalton DSO, KStJ, ED
- Dec 11, 1975 to Sep 22, 1984 – Colonel H. E. Dalton DSO, CD
- Apr, 1987 to Nov, 1989 – Brigadier General J. N. Gordon DSO, CD
- Nov, 1989 to Apr, 1991 – Colonel J. F. Lake QC, CD
- Apr 28, 1991 to Apr, 1994 – Colonel H. F. C. Elliot CD
- 1995? (during 1999) – Brigadier General D. A. Pryer, CD
- 2005 to Nov 29, 2012 - Colonel P. F. Hughes CD
- Nov 29, 2012 to present – Honorary Colonel Lawrence N. Stevenson
Honorary Lieutenant Colonels
- 1924 to Jun 20, 1929 – Major General Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, CVO, VD
- June 20, 1929 to 1931 – Vacant
- 1931 to Dec 15, 1936 - Major General Robert Rennie CB, CMG, DSO, MVO, VD
- 1924 to 1931- Major General Robert Rennie CB, CMG, DSO, MVO, VD
- 1935 – Colonel Arthur J. E. Kirkpatrick VD
- Dec 15, 1936 to Mar 8, 1939 - Major General Robert Rennie CB, CMG, DSO, MVO, VD
- Dec 15, 1936 to Mar 9, 1939 (Supernumary Lieutenant Colonel) - Colonel Arthur J. E. Kirkpatrick VD
- Mar 9, 1939 to Dec 16, 1946 – Colonel Arthur J. E. Kirkpatrick VD
- May 16, 1947 to Apr 1, 1950 – Brigadier John G. Spragge DSO, OBE, ED
- Feb 1, 1951 to Jan 31, 1956 - Lieutenant Colonel Baptist Johnston OBE, VD
- Oct 4, 1956 to Oct 6, 1961 – Lieutenant Colonel Ian M. Macdonell MBE, VD
- Mar 2, 1962 to May 12, 1965 – Colonel H. C. MacKendrick OBE, ED, CD
- Aug 10, 1966 to 1968 – Lieutenant Colonel William T. Barnard ED, CD
- Dec 14, 1968 to May 7, 1970 – Lieutenant Colonel C.O. Dalton DSO, KStJ, ED
- May 7, 1970 to ? – Lieutenant Colonel E.A. Dunlop OBE, GM
- 1980 – Lieutenant Colonel Barney Danson
- 1980-1983 Lieutenant Colonel J. Lake
- Mar 14, 1988 to Apr 28, 1991 – Colonel H. C. F. Elliot CD
- 1995? to Mar, 2000 – Major General H. C. Pitts MC, CD
- Mar, 2001 to 2005 – Lieutenant Colonel P. F. Hughes, CD
- 2005 to Sep 24, 2011 – Lieutenant Colonel R. Cowling CD
- Sep 24, 2011 to Present – Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Caldwell