The Canadian Military Engineers

HISTORY

1. The Boer War in 1899 impressed upon the Canadian Government the need for a permanent army. The General Officer Commanding the Canadian Militia recommended the organization of a permanent corps of engineers and as a result the "Canadian Engineer Corps" was formed on 1 July 1903. In 1904 it was renamed the "Royal Canadian Engineers" and it had an establishment of 7 officers and 125 other ranks in 1906 when the last British troops departed Canada.

2. The "Great War" saw Engineers quickly dispatched to Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Included with the Engineers were the railway companies and the forestry corps. In all more than 40,000 Sappers were involved in the fighting. After WW I demobilization resulted in an establishment of just over 200 members.

3. Declaration of war in 1939 resulted in RCE units being reorganized and re-equipped. In December 1939, the First Canadian Divisional Engineers were formed and dispatched to England. RCE units were involved in the majority of European operations, from Dieppe, North Africa, through Italy, France, Holland and Germany. By the end of the war the overseas RCE strength was 685 officers and 15,677 other ranks.

4. Sappers were again called to arms during the Korean conflict. Military Engineer involvement included road, airfield and camp construction, demolition work and bridging in particular.

5. The RCAF Construction Engineering Branch began in 1939 due to the magnitude of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Over the years it constructed immense numbers of hangars and other buildings, power plants, radar sites and runways and its mandate included fire fighting services. The RCN Civil Engineers also came into being at the start of WW II. Its chief works were the construction of bases and buildings and augmenting existing docking facilities. The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act in 1968 brought the engineers of the three elements together top form the "Canadian Military Engineer Branch" in 1971.

6. Military Engineers today serve the needs of the Canadian Forces at home and abroad. They are in the high Arctic, on peace-keeping duties with the United Nations and present to some degree on every base. They serve wherever the need arises, proudly proving that their motto "Ubique" has not been misplaced.

ROLE

7. The role of the Canadian Military Engineers (CME) is to conduct specialized military operations which contribute to the survivability, mobility and combat effectiveness of other arms and services, and which disrupt enemy operations.


Canada owes much of its development to Military Engineers.

National landmarks like:

  • the Rideau Canal, Ottawa;
  • the citadels in Quebec City and Halifax; and
  • Fort Henry in Kingston and the Fortress in Louisbourg
Military Engineers also had a direct impact on the growth of various areas of Canada by building and planning:
  • the Cariboo Wagon Road (Dewdney Trail) to the BC Interior; and
  • the original town sites of Toronto, Ottawa, London and New Westminster.
 Surveys of the Rockies and the US/Canadian Border by Sappers as well as fort construction like Fort Prince of Wales (1783) on Hudson Bay helped define modern Canada. World War II airfield construction in Canada contributed immeasurably to the war effort and subsequent development of commercial aviation. East and West Coast marine infrastructure development and maintenance allowed the Canadian Navy to fulfill its role.
 

 The North West was opened by construction of the Alaska Highway which Canadian Sappers maintained from 1946 to 1964. History continues to be made today by Engineers as the far North is developed with building roads, bridges and airfields. Military Engineers made a large contribution to the completion and updating of the national mapping and charting of Canada.

The Military Engineer Association of Canada (MEAC) is responsible for the incorporation of the Military Engineers' Museum Association which is dedicated to the preservation of this history, both at home and overseas.

Preserving this history helps future generations guide their decisions by understanding the past. This is the Military Engineers' Museum Association mandate, which cannot be done alone. We need your help to acquire: documents, maps, artifacts, and memorabilia. To be effective, the Military Engineers' Museum must be a vibrant accessible facility tied to present concentrations of engineers. To ensure its viability requires flexibility and consistent resources. Your support is needed in kind or by donation. For further information, contact:

The Museum Liaison Officer
Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering
CFB Gagetown
PO Box 1700 Station Forces
Oromocto, NB
E2V 4J5


ARMY UNITS

Canadian Military Engineers serve virtually every CF establishment, and every CF Base and Station has a construction engineering section as an integral part of it. As well, there are several regular and militia engineer units tasked to provide combat engineering, vertical and horizontal construction capabilities.

The principal regular army units are:
 
1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) Edmonton, Alberta
2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER) Petawawa, Ontario
4 Engineer Support Regiment (4 ESR) Gagetown, New Brunswick
5e Régiment du Genie de Combat (5 RGC) Valcartier, Quebec

Engineer Militia (Reserve) units have recently been renamed. The previous unit names are in brackets. The  Army Reserve units are:
 
31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgin's) St.Thomas, Ontario
32 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 Field Engineer Regiment) Toronto, Ontario
33 Combat Engineer Regiment (3 Field Engineer Squadron) Ottawa, Ontario
34 Combat Engineer Regiment (3 Field Engineer Regiment) Westmount, Quebec
34 Combat Engineer Regiment, Detachment Rouyn (9 Escadron du Génie de Campagne) Rouyn-noranda, Quebec
35e Régiment du Génie de combat (10 Escadron du Génie de Campagnet) Quebec, Quebec
39 Combat Engineer Regiment (6 Field Engineer Squadron) North Vancouver, British Columbia
41 Combat Engineer Regiment (8 Field Engineer Regiment) Edmonton, Alberta
41 Combat Engineer Regiment, Detachment Calgary (33 Field Engineer Squadron) Calgary, Alberta
44 Field Engineer Squadron (44 FES) Trail, British Columbia
45 Field Engineer Squadron (45 FES) Sydney, Nova Scotia
56 Field Engineer Squadron (56 FES) St. John's, Newfoundland

 OTHER REGULAR FORCE UNITS
UNIT NAME    LOCATION   ELEMENT
 4 Airfield Engineering Squadron CFB Cold Lake, Alberta Air
 8 Airfield Engineering Squadron CFB Trenton, Ontario Air
1 Engineer Support Unit Moncton, New Brunswick CF Unit
Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick CF Unit
Mapping And Charting Establishment Ottawa, Ontario CF Unit
Canadian Forces Fire Academy CFB Borden, Ontario CF Unit

Air Force Reserve Units

UNIT NAME LOCATION
14 Airfield Engineering Squadron HQ Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
192 Airfield Engineering Flight Abbotsford, British Columbia
143 Airfield Engineering Flight Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
144 Airfield Engineering Flight Pictou, Nova Scotia
91 Airfield Engineering Flight  Gander, Newfoundland
 

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