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The Calgary Highlanders 

are a Canadian Armed Forces Land Reserve Infantry unit.

Since 1910, the Regiment has served in Calgary, sending soldiers overseas during both World Wars and on numerous UN peacekeeping and NATO missions since the end of World War Two.

The use of flags for recognition of the combatants on a battlefield dates back to antiquity.  The use of flags, or Colours, in the Canadian Army today is purely ceremonial, however their importance to the morale and espirit de corps of individual Regiments of Infantry cannot be underestimated.

The use of Colours in the British Army extends to well before the mid 1700s, yet it was the "Regulations for the uniform Clothing of the Marching Regiments of Foot, their Colours, Drums, Bells of Arms, and Camp Colours" published in 1747 that marked their use in the modern sense.  

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Prior to this time, commanders of individual Regiments (called Colonels) were free to place their own personal heraldic devices on flags and other devices on units under their command.

The ties an Infantry Regiment had to their Colonel in this period were extensive, as it was often he who paid for and equipped the unit.  In addition to using his own device on regimental flags, the regiments were named for him.  For example "Howard's Regiment" would be a regiment led by a Colonel Howard. 

Uniforms were much more elaborate at this period, and regiments were distinguished in many ways, including badges worn on cap and collar, patterns of lace worn on the tunic, and the "facing colour."  Military jackets of the time were lined in a contrasting colour to the outer colour (usually scarlet in infantry regiments, excepting rifle regiments).  The facing was usually revealed where the inside of the jacket was visible, for example on the lapels, or on the sleeves, which were sewn long, then turned back and buttoned in place, exposing the lining.  Each regiment selected its own facing colour.  This was one of the easiest ways to identify a unit on a battlefield at any great distance.

While other units have used flags, with the exception of Guidons used by Cavalry and modern Armoured Regiments, none have had the official status of the Colours of an Infantry Regiment.  In days of old, the Colours were considered a Regiment's most prized possession, and loss of the Colours was an unbearable disgrace.  Many British soldiers sacrificed their lives in defending their Colours, or attempting to recapture Colours that had been lost in battle.

1747 Regulations

The use of flags at this point in time still served a very tactical purpose; the flags were carried into battle and used to identify a regiment's positions and also to mark a rallying point should the regiment become disrupted in battle.  Therefore, the 1747 regulations attempted to codify the use of flags in order to standardize their appearance and ensure that they continued to be a useful means of identifying friendly troops. 

From this point on, then, a "stand of Colours" came to refer to two flags as carried by a single Regiment of infantry.   (As regimental organizations changed over the years, and these Regiments began to be split into multiple battalions, each battalion would receive its own stand of colours).

King's Colour (or Queen's Colour) - referred to in the 1747 Regulations also for the first time as the First Colour; this flag identified the battalion as belonging to the British Army and represented loyalty to the reigning sovereign.  The design of the flag was the Great Union flag.

Regimental Colour - this flag, also referred to in the 1747 Regulations as the Second Colour, was considered junior to the King's Colour.  It identified the Regiment to which the battalion belonged.   The flag was generally to be in the "facing colour" of the Regiment so as to be easily identifiable.  By regulation, the Union flag was to be placed in the upper canton.

Each colour was to be decorated with Roman numerals in gold, either painted or embroidered, indicating the Rank of the Regiment, within a wreath of Roses and Thistles on the same stalk (representing the Union of Scotland and England) on a scarlet field.

Changes to the Design

In 1784, the modern tradition of emblazoning Battle Honours on the Regimental Colour began, when those units that served at Gibraltar were permitted to add the title GIBRALTAR to their Regimental Colours.   As time went on and Battle Honours became standardized, they took the form of inscriptions or as scrolls.  As well, other significant devices were added as years went on, such as the Sphinx device for units rewarded for service in Egypt.  The Sphinx was also added to cap badges, collar badges and belt buckles of some Regiments to honour their service there.

In 1801, the second pattern Union Flag (with the Cross of St. Patrick laid over the St.Andrew's Cross) was used in the design of British Infantry Colours.  Union with Ireland also brought the addition of shamrocks to the wreath on the Regimental Colour.

At right, the Regimental Colour of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, predecessors of the Allied Regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's), as they appeared from 1834-1857.

Per custom, the Union Flag is visible in the upper canton, and the wreath contains the English Rose, Scottish Thistle, and Irish Shamrock.  The rank of the regiment is indicated by the Roman numerals XCIII (93).

The background is "old gold" or yellow - the facing colour of the 93rd Highlanders.

colour1.gif (6369 bytes)
colour2.gif (13494 bytes) By 1926, the modern Regimental Colour had evolved into something resembling the artist's conception at left.   This Colour was carried by the Second Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's).  

The spear-top has been replaced with a standard Crowned Lion on Crown.  The facing colour, yellow, still provides the field, and the unit designation is still found on a scarlet disc.  However, the Union Jack has disappeared, in favour of regimental symbols - in this case the insignia of Princess Louise.  

The Argylls were permitted to carry the Battle Honours of both the old 91st and 93rd Regiments, after the amalgamation of the two units in 1881.  The insignia of both regiments may be seen at the bottom of the Regimental Colour, and formed the basis of the collar insignia worn by the Regiment.   The flag is also edged in gold fringe, today generally indicative of a military flag.

The Battalion is represented by the Roman Numeral "II" in the upper corner.   The First Battalion would have carried an identical Colour, with the number "I".

As Canadian Infantry regiments were created after Confederation, they too were presented stands of Colours, patterned after British regulation. 

With the creation of the new Canadian National Flag in 1965, Queen's Colours were to henceforth be patterned after this flag rather than the Union Jack.


The number of exceptions to the regulations mentioned above are too numerous to list, though Guards Regiments are notable for having Company Colours rather than Regimental Colours.  Rifle Regiments, whose traditions revolve around the idea that their unit relies on stealth and individual initiative, have no Colours as such and instead wear their Battle Honours on their cap badges.

Colours of The Calgary Highlanders and Predecessor Units

103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles)

By 1910, Infantry Regiments no longer carried their Colours into battle.  Being a Rifle Regiment, the 103rd Calgary Rifles never received a stand of Colours in any event.  Having no Battle Honours, the cap badge also remained unadorned.

10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

When the Canadian Militia mobilized units for active war service, the force known as the Canadian Expeditionary Force was made up entirely of numbered battalions.  Officially, these numbered battalions were to have no connection with the existing Regiments, though in practice many of the new battalions took such Regimental accoutrements into use as tartans, cap badges and other traditional uniform components.  Some of the battalions had King's and Regimental Colours also, including reinforcement battalions created in Canada. 

batflag.gif (1176 bytes) The Tenth Battalion, however, did not have its own Colours.  In 1917 the battalion was authorized to have a "battle flag", in red with a white circle bearing the distinguishing patches as worn on the uniform sleeves upon it.  

It is not, however, known whether or not the battalion ever adopted such a flag.  

Its only use would have been as a headquarters marker in any event.  For the march into Germany in December 1918, the Tenth Battalion was issued a wool bunting Union Jack, of the same type issued to all Canadian battalions not in possession of their own Colours.
The Union Jack was deposited in Knox Church in Calgary on 19 July 1919, and the Church offered to present a Regimental Colour to accompany the Union Jack now referred to as the King's Colour.  The Tenth Battalion Association politely refused, wanting to wait until Battle Honours had been granted. 

For long years after the award of Battle Honours in 1929, nothing was done, until finally the Tenth Battalion Association decided to purchase new Colours at their own expense in 1950.  The Department of National Defence granted permission, so long as no expense to the public was incurred.  The original King's Colour could, according to DND, either be left undisturbed in its resting place at Knox Church, deposited elsewhere in the Church, or cremated with the ashes being spread over the replica as part of the ceremony of depositing the new Colours.

The Association opted to cremate the original King's Colour, and the order for the new Colours was placed in late 1952, with delivery being taken in March 1953.  On 26 April 1953, the new stand of Colours was officially deposited at Knox Church, in a ceremony involving 62 veterans of the Tenth Battalion accompanied by the Regimental Pipes and Drums of The Calgary Highlanders.  The Colours still reside today at Knox Presbyterian United Church in downtown Calgary.

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56th Battalion, CEF

In all, 260 infantry battalions were raised during the First World War for inclusion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, though only a fraction of them were used for active service, the remainder usually broken up for reinforcements of the active CEF units.  Nonetheless, enthusiastic units created cap, collar and shoulder badges for themselves, and eagerly adopted the traditions of founding regiments in some cases.  The 56th Battalion, one of two reinforcement battalions perpetuated by The Calgary Highlanders, funded a stand of Colours in March 1916.  The Colours were deposited at the Church of the Redeemer in Calgary where they still reside.

82nd Battalion, CEF

The 82nd Battalion also had a stand of Colours, which were presented in May 1916, then deposited at St. Mary's, Sellindge, Kent in the United Kingdom in June 1916.  They were eventually transferred to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary in 1965.

The Calgary Highlanders

The first stand of Colours belonging to The Calgary Highlanders were presented on Wednesday, 28 December 1927. 

According to tradition, the King's Colour was based on the Union Flag, with a red disc in the centre bearing a gold numeral I and the legend THE CALGARY HIGHLANDERS.  The Regimental Colour had a yellow field, the facing colour inherited from the Allied regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's).  The red disc on the Colour bore a regimental symbol, the St. Andrew's Cross (a common feature of Highland and Scottish regiment badges) surmounted by the beaver.  The beaver had been the central symbol on the cap badge of the Tenth Battalion, symbolizing Canada, and was also included on the cap badge of The Calgary Highlanders.  As per Canadian custom, the wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks found on British Army Colours was replaced by a wreath of Canadian maple leaves.  The battalion numeral "I" was located in the top canton.

Battle Honours for the First World War had not yet been granted, and so the Colours were blank at first.  Subsequently, the Battle Honours awarded to the Calgary Highlanders, earned by the predecessor unit, the Tenth Battalion, and selected for emblazonment, were added to the Regimental Colour.

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Artist's concept of the 1927 stand of Colours, as used in the presentation programme.
Scan courtesy Lieutenant Kevin S. Winfield, CD

On 29 March 1940, the Colours were officially deposited in the Cathedral of the Redeemer for safekeeping, until the overseas battalion of The Calgary Highlanders returned to Canada.

On Thursday, 25 May 1967, a new stand of Colours was presented by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Kent in a ceremony held at Currie Barracks in Calgary.  The new Queen's Colour had the St. Edward's Crown rather than the Tudor Crown as worn on the older King's Colour, and the new Regimental Colour was emblazoned with the Regiment's Second World War Battle Honours. The new Colours also deleted the Roman numeral "I" indicating the First Battalion.   The old Colours were subsequently deposited in the Cathedral of the Redeemer in Calgary.  Also on parade was the South Alberta Light Horse, who received a new Guidon in a dual ceremony.

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The stand of Colours retired in 1967, as they now appear at the Cathedral of the Redeemer.  Note the Tudor or "King's" Crown on both.  These were replaced by the St. Edward's or "Queen's" Crown on the new Colours presented by HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent.
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Photograph of the new stand of Colours presented in 1967.
Scan courtesy Lieutenant Kevin S. Winfield, CD

colours3.jpg (12652 bytes) This Queen's Colour, still patterned on the the Union Jack, was replaced by a new Queen's Colour based on the maple leaf National Flag on 30 June 1990.   

The presentation was made by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, at McMahon Stadium in front of 38,000 spectators.  

Also on parade was the King's Own Calgary Regiment. Above, the current stand of Colours, including the Queen's Colour presented in 1990 and the Regimental Colour presented in 1967.
The Regiment has also adopted in recent years a "Camp Flag", as shown at right.  This is not an official Colour and is used in an unofficial manner only.  

It may be flown daily at the home station, or wherever the Regiment is stationed, from sun up to sun down.  

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The Camp Flag has also been used by the Pipes and Drums while on parade or at Highland Games.  A Regimental Camp Flag also flies over the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary.



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