Colonel (Canada)


Colonel (Col; French: colonel, col) is a Canadian Forces rank used by commissioned officers in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force. Captain(N) is the equivalent rank in the Royal Canadian Navy. A colonel is senior to the army and air force rank of lieutenant-colonel or the naval rank of commander, and junior to the army and air force rank of brigadier-general or the naval rank of commodore.[1]

Cdn-Army-Col(OF-5)-2014.svgCDN-Air Force-Colonel (OF5)-2015.svg
Left: Canadian Army
Right: Royal Canadian Air Force
Service branch
NATO rank codeOF-5
Next higher rankBrigadier-general
Next lower rankLieutenant-colonel
Equivalent ranksCaptain(N)


Before unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, rank structure and insignia followed the British pattern.


Typical appointments for colonels include:

The rank insignia for air force uniform is four 12-inch (1.3 cm) stripes, worn on the cuffs of the service dress jacket, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. The insignia for army uniform is two stars and a crown. The insignia worn on the headdress for an army colonel is the crest of the Canadian coat of arms: a crowned gold lion with a maple leaf in its paw standing on a red-and-white wreath, all beneath the royal crown; the collar insignia is two crossed sabres. Some colonels, by nature of holding a specific appointment, may continue to wear the insignia of their personnel branch or regiment; for example, the honorary colonel of an infantry regiment. Air force colonels wear the badge of their personnel branch (most often the Air Operations Branch) on their headdress.

Colonels are addressed by rank and name; thereafter by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am".

Honorary ranks and appointmentsEdit

There are also several honorary ranks and appointments associated with the rank of colonel, or containing the word "colonel" in their title.

Personnel holding these honorary ranks are not part of the military operational chain of command. Rather, they serve in a ceremonial manner, often as a guest of honour at parades, mess dinners, or at other military traditions such as during Remembrance Day. Usually, honorary ranks are filled by people who have had a prior association with the battalion, regiment, or squadron they represent. Princess Patricia of Connaught was the colonel-in-chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, one of the most decorated infantry regiments in the Canadian Forces (CF). An honorary colonel of a CF flying or air maintenance squadron may be a past commanding officer of that squadron (who has since retired from active duty), or an air ace during the war.


  1. ^ Defence, National (2017-11-23). "Military ranks". aem. Retrieved 2021-03-13.