Founded as the 2881 Highland Creek Army Cadets in 1971, the 2881 Queen’s Own Rifles Cadet Corps is a very successful and active unit of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets (RCAC), and celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011. One of a large number of such units in Canada sponsored by the Canadian Forces and the civilian Army Cadet League of Canada, the Corps became affiliated with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and Highland Creek Branch 258 of the Royal Canadian Legion in 1978. In 1989, it became known as the “Scarborough Rifles”, and a few years later assumed its current direct title association with The Queen’s Own.
It now parades once weekly at the parent regiment’s Dalton Armoury in eastern Scarborough, Ontario. When it stood-to in September, 2011, it paraded with a strength of 70 male and female cadets. This very successful and diverse corps has benefited from the strong leadership provided over the years by many former cadets who have served and continue to serve as Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC) Officers, and from excellent support by members of RCL Branch 258.
Lieutenant-Colonel G.W. Horwood, CD, ADC, who died in 1989, had served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada in World War II. He was the founder of the unit, which was originally affiliated with the Canadian Forces’ 25 (Toronto) Service Battalion and paraded wearing Royal Canadian Army Service Corps insignia. Since its inception, the cadet corps has found its “parade square” at a variety of locations including Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute, R.H. King Collegiate, Cardinal Newman High School and Joseph Howe Senior Public School, as well as in a school portable building made available at RCL Branch 258’s Legion Village Home.
One of the Corps’ great strengths is the continuity of its leadership. The current Commanding Officer, Capt Shaun Bridge has served for 27 years as a cadet, CIC Officer and Commanding Officer. Michael Rainforth spent 15 years as a cadet and CIC Officer, and a second generation is now serving, with Mike’s son Andrew in the Corps. Kimberly O’Leary, a former cadet, served as a CIC Officer 1986-1999 and continues to serve in the RCAC. She was appointed a Regional Cadet Advisor in 1999, and after one year, was promoted to Staff Officer at the Regional Cadet Support Unit, located at Canadian Forces Base Borden. She held the position of Cadet Training Officer for Central Region for nine years, and was then appointed as the Commandant of the Regional Cadet Instructor School. She is currently responsible for the training of all CIC officers in Central Region.
In 1990, largely through the efforts of the late Captain “Derm” Wilson, a former member of the Royal Green Jackets, a group of cadets visited England and were hosted by 2nd Battalion The Queen’s Regiment (The Queen’s Own Buffs) which is allied with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Cadets visited nearby British Army units and were able to practise navigation and field skills alongside members of the host regiment. Capt Shaun Bridge, then senior cadet, was honoured by being asked to turn a page in The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada’s Book of Remembrance during a ceremony in the Warriors’ Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral. In 1992, the cadets were again invited to visit The Queen’s Regiment, this time during its deployment to Minden, Germany.
In 1992, James Lutz joined as a Civilian Instructor. A former Infantryman with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War, Mr. Lutz added significantly to the corps’ active program of field exercises. As just one example, on Exercise RED DAWN in 1993 in Toronto’s Rouge Valley, cadets in four teams were fully operational for 40 hours. Training included a day and night reconnaissance competition to determine which team could observe other teams most frequently while itself avoiding observation.
On the amalgamation of The Queen’s and The Royal Hampshire Regiments to form the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR) in 1993, Captains Kim O’Leary and Derm Wilson were honoured to be invited to attend this historical event in Canterbury. There they were presented to the new Regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, Lady Diana the Princess of Wales.
In June 1993, 15 cadets joined with the cadet corps of Toronto’s 2 Field Engineer Regiment for a trip to Washington, DC. In addition to viewing the “Old Guard” of the 3rd Infantry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and seeing the Vietnam Memorial, on Canada Day at the Canadian Embassy the cadets met General Jean de Chastelain, OC, CH, CMM, CD, then Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. and former Chief of the Canadian Defence Staff.
Four cadets were also invited to join The Queen’s Own Rifles for its 1994 trip to “D-Day+50” celebrations in Normandy and to march in uniform with the regiment during ceremonial parades.
From the first day of its founding the cadet corps has provided a strong foundation for two generations of young people. A number of former cadets have gone on to careers in the Canadian Forces, some with The Queen’s Own Rifles and others in the Regular Force. Many more cadets have gone on to successful careers in fields such as policing, firefighting and business, and they credit their time in the Corps for the leadership and organizational skills that assisted them in their success.
The Cadet Instructor Cadre Commanding Officers of the cadet corps since its founding in 1971 have been:
- Captain Bennett, 1971-74
- Captain Walter Belfontaine, 1974-77 (in 1977 he became Commanding Officer of new voluntary Upper Canada College Rifles Cadet Corps also affiliated with the QOR)
- Lieutenant T. Barker, 1977-78
- Captain Ivor Gould, 1978-81
- Captain Gordon T. Roach, 1981-86, 1988-90
- Captain A.D.R. (Derm) Wilson, 1986-88, 1990-91, 1993-1994
- Captain Kimberly O’Leary, 1991-93, 1994-1999
- Captain Michael Paulin, 1999-2000
- Captain Doug Silzer, 2000-2003
- Captain Jon Lee, 2003-2004
- Captain Calvin Facey, 2004-2008
- Captain Shaun Bridge, 2008-present