Ceremonial Guard: Donning the Scarlet Tunic


Uniforms are a display of strength, of unity, and of belonging. They inspire a sense of identity.
Enter the sea of red comprising members of the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Armed Forces. Represented by over 80 different units, once the Ceremonial Guard dons the scarlet tunics the expectation of oneness, sameness, is brought upon them as every move is executed in perfect synchronization.
The uniforms they wear are those of the Governor General’s Foot Guards and Canadian Grenadier Guards; two regiments that continue to contribute significantly to this day.
Upon arrival, new recruits are taken and put into the tender care of their instructors. During the indoctrination period, recruits are required to completely commit themselves day and night to a program of training that addresses any inadequacies, teaches the customs and practices of the group, and  the customs and practices of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
The Ceremonial Guard is a composite CAF unit of over 400 people including the Governor General’s Foot Guard company and the Ceremonial Guard Band. The majority of the Guard is composed of Regular and Reserve Force Guard, and includes soldiers from regiments across Canada, and the ceremonial members from Canada’s navy and air force.
“I remember my first experience and first march,” says Corporal Christopher Hutchinson. “The focus was still on individual development, but at the same time joining the Ceremonial Guard stopped being about just you.”
The soldiers become assimilated into military society, culture, and way of life. As the teaching and indoctrination continues, the trainees begin to bind together as a group. The recruits are then tested through a series of challenges. These trials are both physically and mentally demanding, designed to induce stress and measure their reactions to ensure teamwork.
“It’s about performing and standing up and becoming a symbol,” says Cpl Hutchinson.

Shift from civilian to soldier
When a soldier puts on the uniform there is a shift from civilian to soldier. When a soldier puts on the scarlet tunic there is a change from soldier to a member of the Ceremonial Guard.
To don the blood red tunic is to enter into a sacred contract to carry on the legacy of those before. The soldiers choose not to communicate, allowing their silence to speak volumes to their discipline and pride. The beating of the drum, the playing of the band and the wailing of the pipes warns of their approach. Their weapons become an extension of themselves, acting as appendages that serve to carry on the tradition and heritage of those that have also worn the uniform.

Scarlet tunic origins
The scarlet tunic and bearskin cap worn as full dress of the Governor General’s Foot Guards is modeled after their allied regiment the Coldstream Guards. General Order No. 106 of 1929 promulgated the approval of His Majesty King George V to a formal alliance between His Majesty’s Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards and the Governor General’s Guards.
Consequently, upon the designation by His Majesty King George V as a Regiment of Foot Guards, the Canadian Grenadier guards were awarded the privilege of wearing the Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards uniform by Royal Warrant on April 14, 1914.
The Ceremonial Guard of the CAF has the privilege of wearing the uniforms of both these regiments today.


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