110 years of Military Engineering

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The 1st July, 1903, was the official birth date of the “Canadian Engineer Corps” as a “Permanent Corps”. It’s organization had been recommended by the G.O.C. Canadian Militia in 1899: in his report one year later he advised that the initial steps to form the Corps had already been taken and that a “Military Engineer of high standing” would shortly be required to command and inspect it. The first officers were Major P. Weatherbe, promoted lieutenant-colonel to command and Captain G.S. Maunsell, promoted Major and made second-in-command.

The initial establishment was seven officers and 125 other ranks. Those seven officers were Lieut-Colonel P. Weatherbe, Major G.S. Maunsell, Lieutant (later Brigadier) J.L.H. Bogart, Lieutant A. Stewart, Lieutant W.B. Lindsay (later Major-General), Lieutant P.S. Benoit (later Major-General) and Lieutant H.T. Hughes (later Brigadier-General).

The Corps was re-named “The Royal Canadian Engineers” on 1st February 1904.

The non-permanent engineer corps acquired sole title to the name “Canadian Engineers” after the establishment of the permanent corps.

The badge was the Royal Cypher surmounted by the Imperial Crown. The cap badge was similar to that of the Royal Engineers except for the addition of the word “Canadian” and the substitution of a wreath of maple leaves for the Royal

Note – the permanent force is today’s “regular force”, the non-permanent force is today’s “militia/reserves”.


– Kerry, Col. A. J. and Maj W.A. McDill, The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Volume 1, 1749 – 1939. The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1962.
edvii-badge prior-badge


Robert Service and the Canadian Engineers

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I’ve come across reports of an incident involving the poet Robert Service (The Cremation of Sam McGee, Shooting of Dangerous Dan McGrew) and the Canadian Engineers.

In the book Robert Service – Under the Spell of the Yukon, page 173, it is mentioned that Service was with the Engineers Oct 1918. This includes being with a recce party, which accidentally liberated Lille France.

From the web site http://www.RobertWService.com

” He returned to the war with a chauffeured Cadillac and an officer guide, to write about the Canadian Expeditionary Force for their government. In the course of his work he accidentally liberated the town of Lille. He wrote another book, with the manuscript title War Winners, a file of prose reports on the support operations working to keep the Allied forces in the field. He wrote it furiously to promote the war effort, and tore it up on Armistice Day, in disgust with everything about the whole conflict.”  http://www.robertwservice.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4&page=2

Basically Service and the recce party entered Lille France before the official liberation of the city on 17 Oct 1918. Thus were seen by some of the local population as liberators.

However other than these two references, I have not been able to locate any other mention of Robert Service and the Canadian Engineers. The Engineer unit is not identified in either reference.