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Infomation based on original research conducted by Barry Agnew, Curator, Regimental Museum

The Ideal

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. hosetops.gif (1445 bytes)
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.
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Non-Commissioned Member's pattern

Officer's pattern

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.

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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. fulldress3.jpg (24158 bytes)



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.

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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.

The sporran 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.

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Canadian pattern Service Dress used in the First World War but also seen in use up to the early years of the Second World War. 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 day

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."

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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.
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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

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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.

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Non-Commissioned Member's pattern

Officer's pattern

1972 to Present: Back to Basics

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 since.

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