Infomation based on
original research conducted by Barry Agnew, Curator, Regimental Museum
The use of "Full Dress" or "Ceremonial
Dress" in the Canadian Army has never been universal, due to the expense of the
purchase and maintenance of the garments. "Full Dress" in the most
advanced sense - scarlet doublets and feather bonnets, based on the pattern worn in
Victorian times - is worn most commonly in regimental pipe bands, the Ceremonial Guard in
Ottawa (akin to the guard at Buckingham Palace, the Ceremonial Guard performs public
duties at Parliament Hill during the summer), and a small handful of infantry regiments in
Canada maintain enough Full Dress uniforms to outfit complete guards.
In the 1950s, Hiram Walker produced a series
of colour plates depicting officers of Canadian Highland Regiments. The prints are
today collector's items, and are notable in some cases for being more fanciful than
truthful. The print depicting an officer of The Calgary Highlanders, however, does
give an interpretation of what the most advanced state of Ceremonial Dress for the
Regiment would be if it decided to make such uniforms a priority.
A reproduction of the Hiram Walker print is
shown at right, and while many of the uniform components displayed are actually in use by
the Regiment today, the use of the scarlet doublet and feather bonnet by anyone but
drummers in the Regiment has never been the reality.
|Regimental dress regulations are actually
breached by the display of four rows of dice on the hosetops rather than the standard
three, and the hosetop flashes are shown over top of the centre row of dice, rather than
bisecting them. The hosetop flashes are also far too long. The proper method of wear
is shown at right, with the flashes to the outside of the leg.
It has also been said that the dirk is worn too far forward - the officer shown
would be hard pressed to swing his arms properly on the march. Additionally, gold
brocade belts have never been worn by the Regiment, nor have gold sword belt buckles.
|The Reality 1921 - 1939
In reality, the Calgary Highlanders have not adopted
the scarlet tunic and feather bonnet (with the exception of the Pipe Band). In the
1920s, Calgary Highlanders were issued one uniform, called "Service Dress", and
this was expected to be worn as working dress, parade dress, ceremonial dress, and field
dress. In summer, lightweight denim clothing may have been substituted, and for
field wear, the hair sporran, spats and diced hosetops would have been discarded in favour
of a cloth kilt apron, and drab hosetops and puttees.
In the interwar period, Service Dress was
patterned after the British tunics issued to Canadian soldiers during the First World War.
While alliance with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders helped define some of the
dress regulations of the new Regiment, funds and lack of contact with the Argylls
contributed to unique dress regulations in the Calgary Highlanders. At right is an
example of an NCO in full parade dress probably in the 1920s. The Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders wore six point sporrans (with badger heads for senior NCOs and
officers); before the Calgary Highlanders adopted that design, however, a simple two-point
sporran with the cap badge of the 10th Battalion, CEF on the cantle was worn, as shown at
right. A khaki balmoral with plume was also worn before the adoption of the red and
white diced glengarry of the allied Regiment.
|Officers' uniforms, in keeping
with traditions at the time, were made of finer and more expensive materials than the
Other Ranks. Lieutenant Colonel Tomlinson, show at right in the early 1930s, shows
the typical Service Dress uniform. Officers had a wider latitude of uniform
components; for work or walking out, trews (tartan trousers) might be worn instead of the
kilt and accoutrements. The Sam Browne belt might be exchanged for a cloth
belt. But for a full ceremonial parade, the uniform at right would have constituted
"Full Dress" for a Calgary Highlanders officer in the interwar period. As
officers at that time purchased their own clothing, there may have been much
latitude. The four point sporran is unusual, as is the wearing of a half
plaid. Full medals rather than ribbons would tend to indicate an important occasion
though one would expect a sword to be worn for a full ceremonial parade of the Regiment.
At the start of the Second World War, several
factors had an effect on the way the Calgary Highlanders clothed their soldiers. The
kilt was banned as combat dress before the First Battalion of the Regiment left Calgary
for Shilo, Manitoba and eventual overseas deployment. Battle Dress became the combat
dress of all units going overseas, and was worn overseas as a dress uniform. In
1939, however, Service Dress was still being issued.
The two photos at right show Platoon Sergeant
Major "Donnie" Munro. The first photo is not an indication of the true
availability of uniforms in 1939! The details of some traditions - such as the
Sporran Parade - are best left unpublished. Photo was taken in Calgary in March
1940. The second photo gives a nice view of what would constitute "Full
Dress" for the Regiment following the alliance with the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders. A six point sporran is worn, along with a glengarry bearing the unique
red and white dicing peculiar to the Argylls and affiliated regiments.
The waistbelt is an antiquated brown leather
belt with brass snake-style buckle. Clothing shortages were severe in 1939, and many
soldiers made do with civilian clothes, denim overalls or parts of summer uniforms until
enough Service Dress uniforms were issued - to be replaced with Battle Dress in 1940.
Once the Service Dress was withdrawn, the only dress uniform the First Battalion
retained was the same Battle Dress they worked and trained in.
|This soldier, from the same group photo as
Donnie Munro's photo, above, shows interesting variations on just about all the uniform
components and was taken in December 1939. At the start of the War, a shortage of
glengarries meant that home-made khaki glengarries had to be worn by some troops.
The Service Dress Jacket is an older pattern of a type worn before 1914, and replaced by
the British style Jacket worn by PSM Munro. The differences are in the number of
buttons down the front, the standup collar, and a generally tighter fit. This
example also appears not to have been "cut away' to accommodate the sporran, but
instead the tunic skirts have been simply folded back for the photo. Many of the
mobilized units across Canada were given priority on uniforms, and other units not yet
mobilized were ordered to surrender their uniform stocks to the units of the Canadian
Active Service Force. It is possible this is why the tunic has not been tailored for
a Highland uniform.
is also of the older two point pattern with 10th Battalion badge on the cantle; there were
not enough six-point sporrans to go around and large numbers of these older sporrans were
pressed into service in 1939. Note also the lack of collar and shoulder badges, the
poor condition of the sporran, and the incorrectly worn hosetops and flashes.
Officers at this point were still required to
buy their own uniforms, which were of their own seperate pattern and of higher quality,
including a badger head sporran, kilt panels, and collared shirt and tie.
|Canadian pattern Service
Dress used in the First World War but also seen in use up to the early years of the Second
||British pattern Service
Dress was eventually adopted by the Canadians in the First World War and remained the
standard pattern into the Second World War.
The Canadian Army
introduced an open collared service dress jacket for wear by troops in Canada, though it
is unclear if it was issued in large numbers to the Second Battalion for use in parades.
Post World War II
As the Canadian Army demobilized after the
Second World War, interest in the military waned; the Calgary Highlanders reverted back to
a one battalion organization, with companies in outlying towns, and once again the Battle
Dress remained the standard "dress" uniform. Lightweight alternatives to
Service Dress were introduced, such as the Tropical Worsteds (also called T-Dubs).
The New Ideal - 1958
In roughly 1953, the British Army adopted a green "coatee" style jacket
to replace, in theory, the more expensive and elaborate scarlet "doublet" worn
as Full Dress. In reality, many units of the British Army would have lacked
the scarlet tunics, so the green doublets would have actually been an upgrade of their
Full Dress from existing service and battle dress uniforms.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders adopted
this green coatee, and in 1958 the Calgary Highlanders followed suit. Lieutenant
Colonel Ed Lewis, CD, QC, the Commanding Officer, was responsible for introducing
the uniform, and Honourary Colonel Eric Harvie purchased the jackets for the regiment.
Documents in possession of the Regimental Archives verify that a new set of
Regimental Dress Regulations were finalized by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis in January 1958
and submitted to higher authority. The Regimental tailor, Lee Munroe, began taking
orders for the coatees at that time.
On 5 June 1958, coatees for the officers were
delivered, and these new uniforms were worn at the Calgary Highlanders Ball the very next
It is believed that enough coatees had been delivered by 2
November 1958 so that the entire unit could parade in the new uniform for the annual
Walcheren Causeway church parade. More research is being done by the Regimental
Museum, but a Christmas Greeting from the Commanding Officer in an issue of The Glen
believed to be dated December 1958 is quoted as saying that the Walcheren parade was
"... outstanding and the green uniforms which we now have for the whole Regiment
added much to the colour of the Parade."
New purchases of coatees were not made; and
the coatees were slowly phased out. The Pipes and Drums returned to green and
scarlet doublets in the mid 1980s, and the Regimental Colour Party, along with two Colour
Orderlies, were the last troops in the Regiment to officially wear the coatees.
A more accurate representation of regimental
full dress is thus given by the figure above right, as he would have appeared in the
1960s. The diced balmoral was worn briefly in the 1950s -1970s at a time when
coloured berets were worn by non-Highland regiments in the Canadian Army. Also note
that in this period, the half plaid and brooch were not worn by officers. The other
details of the uniform are correct, including the white waist belt and the wearing of the
hosetops and flashes.
| The uniform of Lieutenant
Colonel H.V. O'Connor is show below. Dark green shoulder straps are worn, which are
attached to the uniform with tapes, and can be removed and replaced with gold braid
epaullettes as shown in the diagram above. The jacket is from the period immediately
prior to Unification and so metal rank badges are still worn on the shoulders. When
the Armed Forces were unified, officers' rank was instead indicated on the lower sleeves
of the new Canadian Forces (CF) uniform in the form of braid rings, as had been the custom
in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
|The details of the
turnbacks are clearly shown here, as is the gold braid on the cuffs. A plain collar
was worn, unlike the Other Ranks jackets illustrated below. The details of the diced
balmoral are also visible here. For parades, a white waist belt, white sword belt,
and maroon officers' sash would have been worn.
Uniform courtesy of
Lieutenant Colonel (ret'd) HV O'Connor, CD
|Sergeant Carson, photographed at right in
the 1990s, wears the pattern of jacket selected for Other Ranks (now termed
Non-Commissioned Members). The main differences between this jacket and the
officer's jacket are the white piping on the collar and the use of sewn in plain green
epaullettes. Piping on the cuff is also in white rather than gold. Just
visible on Sergeant Carson's hip is the yellow turnback. Sergeants in Infantry
Regiments are entitled to wear a red sash when on parade.
When the new rank system in the Canadian Forces was
introduced following Unification, Sergeants were to be identified by a three-bar chevron
surmounted by a maple leaf, Master Corporals were to be identified by a two-bar chevrons
surmounted by a maple leaf, Corporals by a two-bar chevron, and Trained
Privates by a one-bar chevron.
The Regiment opted instead to retain the
older style of insignia on the coatees, thus a Sergeant wore a three-bar chevron (only), a
Master Corporal a two-bar chevron, a Corporal a one-bar chevron, and a Trained Private no
rank insignia at all.
1972 to Present: Back to
The introduction of the Canadian Forces (CF)
uniform to the Regiment in the early 1970s brought an end to the practice of outfitting
officers differently than the enlisted ranks. Traditional distinctions with regards
to Highland regalia were kept; badger head sporrans and kilt panels continued to be worn
by officers, and senior NCOs (though availability has always been a limiting factor that
has at times seen sergeants wearing six-point sporrans instead of badger heads, or private
soldiers wearing purse sporrans instead of six-point sporrans). The CF Uniform
jacket, however, was the same pattern for all ranks. Officers continued to wear a
sword belt and sash for ceremonial parades as the green coatees began to be worn out and
faded from use. The Sam Browne belt was discontinued.
The re-adoption of distinctive uniforms in the
late 1980s saw two different dress jackets termed DEU (Distinctive Environmental Uniform,
referring to Sea, Land or Air "environments", or in essence, the Navy, Army or
Air Force) introduced, tan for summer and green for winter; by this point the green
coatees had become the uniform of only the Colour Party and colour orderlies. The
tan jacket was discontinued throughout the Army in the early 1990s in favour of the green
DEU being worn year-round.
The Regiment did take a step forward in its
"Full Dress" regulations in 1991 when Honourary Colonel Fred Mannix presented
tartan plaids to the officers of the Regiment at a private mess dinner. The plaids
were presented as gifts, along with engraved plaid brooches, and these plaids have made up
part of the ceremonial dress of all officers (and the Regimental Sergeant Major) ever