The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa

The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa

caption= Cap Badge of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa
dates= 1856-1866-1881-present
country= Canada
branch= Militia
type= Line Infantry
size= One battalion
role= Light Role
command_structure=Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
ceremonial_chief= HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
ceremonial_chief_label=Colonel in Chief
identification_symbol= [ of Erracht]
march= "The March of The Cameron Men" and "Pibroch O' Donuil Dubh"

The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces.


The 1st Volunteer Militia Rifle Company of Ottawa was formed on April 3, 1856. At that time, the bulk of Canada's militia existed as small, independent companies scattered throughout the provinces. In 1866, the 43rd Battalion of Infantry (otherwise known as the Carleton Blazers) was formed in Bells Corners (now part of Ottawa) with companies in many of the surrounding communities and absorbed Ottawa's volunteer rifle company. This company is perpetuated to this day as "A" Company of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

The 43rd Battalion's first call to service came in 1870 when they were deployed to the Prescott area to defend Canada against Fenian raids. They saw no action there and quickly returned to Ottawa. Because they were so spread out, maintaining troop strength was difficult and in 1875, the regiment was disbanded.

In 1881, the unit was stood up again but this time as the 43rd "Ottawa and Carleton" Battalion of Rifles with the Ottawa volunteer rifle company and a number of other companies located in Fitzroy, Vernon, Metcalfe, Aylwin, Eardley, and Wakefield.

Over the next 20 years, its members would see action in the North-West (Riel) Rebellion and in the Second Boer War. However, the battalion sent only volunteers and never formed units. It was in the Boer War that Private R.R. Thompson won a Queen's Scarf (a scarf knitted by Queen Victoria for bravery) for his actions saving wounded soldiers.

In 1902, the regiment so impressed the Duke of Cornwall (later King George V) that he became the Camerons' first honorary colonel and allowed the regiment to bear his name. The new name for the regiment was the 43rd Regiment, Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles.

In 1914, when World War I began, the unit was mobilized for action. However, once again, the unit did not go overseas as a unit. Instead, the unit was used to recruit and train soldiers mostly for the 2nd, 38th, and 207th battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The Camerons perpetuate the 38th and 207th battalions. The 38th saw action in France from 1916 to 1918 and received many battle honours. The members who served were also well decorated. The 207th left in June 1917 for France and were used as a reserve force for many units.

During the interwar years the 43rd Regiment was reorganized and renamed on several occasions. In March 1920 it was converted from regular infantry to a highland regiment and renamed The Ottawa Regiment (The Duke of Cornwall's Own). The regiment was also provided with two battalions, the 1st Battalion (38th Battalion, CEF) and the 2nd Battalion (207th Battalion, CEF) (the 2nd Battalion existed only on paper), as a means of retaining the history and honours of the wartime Canadian Expeditionary Force battalions. Two years later, in 1922, the regiment was renamed The Ottawa Highlanders, a title it would keep for the next eleven years. Then, in 1933, it was renamed The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa with "(M.G.)" (for machine gun) being added to the regimental title in 1936. The common thread throughout the history of the unit since 1881 is the presence of the motto "Advance" on the cap badge...the motto of The City of Ottawa.

In July 1940, the unit (as the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa) left for garrison duty in Iceland, which ended in April 1941 when they sailed to England. On 6 June 1944, the Camerons were the only Ottawa regiment to land on D-Day. The 1st Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa consisted of three machine gun companies and one mortar company. Following the landing on D-Day, the regiment fought in almost every battle in the northwestern Europe campaign. However, the soldiers were often attached as platoons and companies in support of other units, so the regiment never fought as an entire entity. During this time, the 2nd Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa recruited and trained soldiers in Canada for overseas duty. The 3rd Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa was formed in July 1945 as a part of the Canadian Army Occupation Force in Germany.

Since World War II, the regiment has remained in Ottawa. It is now a light infantry regiment. Starting in 1985, the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa have sent soldiers on many UN and NATO missions such as those in Cyprus, Croatia, Israel, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.

In 2004 the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa were authorized, as part of the Canadian Forces Land Force Reserve Restructuring (LFRR) to stand up a second rifle company (about 100 soldiers). LFRR further directed this new rifle company train in the western part of Ottawa to be more readily accessible to a growing population base in west Ottawa. The regiment now has two line companies, A Company in the Cartier Square Drill Hall, B Company in Bells Corners is now responsible for all training in co-operation with the NCR Battle School, and Administration Company, a combined Combat Service Support and Administrative Support company located in Cartier Square Drill Hall. In addition, the Regimental Headquarters is also located at Cartier Square Drill hall.

Since the fall of 2007, a number of Camerons have been posted to CFB Petawawa. These soldiers are participating in work up training leading to deployment on Operation ATHENA, the primary Canadian contribution to the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan. Many Camerons are presently in the process of being deployed to, or have already arrived in Afghanistan as part of TF 03-08.

The Regimental Identity

The regimental Motto is "Advance". The 43rd Ottawa and Carleton Battalion of Rifles was first permitted to adopt the motto "Advance" and to bear the same upon its appointments in accordance with General Order - 82 dated 13 January, 1882. This motto has been perpetuated by all successors to the 43rd, including the regiment today. It is also the motto of the City of Ottawa. The Camerons are proudly known as Ottawa's regiment, and they hold the Freedom of the City of Ottawa.

The Regimental Badge or crest is laid out as follows: within a wreath of thistles and maple leaves, the figure of St Andrew with cross is shown standing on a mount charged with a plaque inscribed ADVANCE. On the lower bend of the wreath there are two rolls, the upper inscribed THE CAMERON HIGHLANDERS the lower OF OTTAWA (M.G.). A new recruit to the regiment is given their Balmoral headdress and their Camerons cap badge upon completion of their Soldier Qualification course. Following the completion of their DP1 Infantry course, they are given the blue hackle that sits between the tartan patch and the cap badge, and extends out the top of the badge. The badging ceremony is the point at which the soldier can truly consider themselves a part of the regiment.

During the change of command parade in Ottawa on 20 October 2007, the outgoing Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel "Bud" Walsh presented a new regimental pipe banner for the Pipe Major. In simple terms, a pipe banner is a heraldic flag flown from the large bass drone of the bagpipes. They are used by clan chiefs, chieftains, lairds and military officers of certain rank. Tradition has it that battalion commanders and other senior officers have a 'following' of soldiers and are thus of the status of a 'laird'. In a military context, the banner may show the badge of the regiment on one side and a personal device on the other side although the practice varies from regiment to regiment.

When the Pipes & Drums are on parade with the Commanding Officer, the Pipe-Major usually carries the Commanding Officer’s banner. On more formal events, the Pipe-Major will carry his own banner that represents The Queen’s and Regimental Colours.

As a Highland regiment, the dress uniform of the Camerons differs from most Canadian Forces regiments. The Camerons wear traditional Scottish Kilts in a tartan unique to the Cameron Highlanders of the Canadian and British forces. The Canadian Forces tunic is cut in a manner that the tunic curves outwards and downwards above where a belt buckle would rest. In addition to the kilt, the soldiers of the Camerons wear a leather sporran, and oxford shoes and lovat hose with red tabs in lieu of ankle boots. Higher orders of dress include white spats, a white sporran (Hair Sporran for Officers and Senior NCOs), and a white belt. The regiment also possesses traditional scarlet uniforms and feather bonnets that are worn for ceremonial purpose such as guard formations and the annual remembrance day parade.

Many of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa also wear Regimental rings emblazoned with the Regimental Crest. While most are sterling silver, a few members have had gold rings made using the same pattern.

A Regimental Coin was issued in 2007 by the outgoing Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel "Bud" Walsh as a gift to the members and officers serving, and a remembrance of those Camerons who have fallen in the line of duty. The coin, designed by Regimental Sergeant Major (Chief Warrant Officer) Jim Seguin, is inscribed with the Regimental Crest on one side, and the Thistle topped by Crown on the reverse with a serial number.


The Camerons train regularly at Connaught Ranges in West Ottawa and at CFB Petawawa. Members of the unit can expect to train a minimum of one night a week and one weekend a month. Often, the pace of training requires soldiers to parade more often.

Training consists of basic soldier skills, individual battle task standards, and more advanced training operations based on contemporary training doctrine, much of which has been developed in recent years in Afghanistan.

In 2006 the unit underwent a noticeable shift in training focus. New training was conducted in cordon and search operations, urban patrolling, and vehicle checkpoints. There has also been an increased emphasis on high intensity urban fighting.

2006 also saw the opening of a new Regimental training facility in Bells Corners, a western suburb of Ottawa. Located in the Lynwood Mall on the south side of Robertson Road, the location houses B Company, a sister rifle company to A Company which trains out of Cartier Square Drill Hall located in downtown Ottawa.


Currently, a number of Camerons are or will be undergoing training for deployment to Afghanistan. Previously, Camerons have served in Kabul and Kandahar Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, The Congo, Cyprus, Israel, Somalia, and Syria, among other deployments. The unit prepares soldiers to be trainable and employable as members of regular force contingents going overseas for periods of up to nine months.


*GBR - The Highlanders

Order of precedence

External links

* [ The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa]

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