Canadian Rangers

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Canadian Rangers
Rangers canadiens
Badge of the Canadian Rangers
CountryFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
BranchFlag of the Canadian Army.svg  Canadian Army
TypeNiche element, scouting role
RoleDomestic operations; surveillance and sovereignty patrols, first response
Part ofFlag of the Canadian Army.svg  Canadian Army
  • Canadian Ranger National Authority, Canadian Army Staff, Ottawa
  • 1 CRPG: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia
  • 2 CRPG: Quebec
  • 3 CRPG: Ontario
  • 4 CRPG: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
  • 5 CRPG: Newfoundland and Labrador
Motto(s)Vigilans ("Watching")
ColorsRed and green
Engagements Second World War
Cold War
LGen Paul Wynnyk, Commander of the Canadian Army

The Canadian Rangers (French : Rangers canadiens) (sometimes mistakenly called the Arctic Rangers [1] ) are a 5,000-strong sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces reserve that provide a limited military presence in Canada's sparsely settled northern, coastal, and isolated areas where it would not be economically or practically viable to have conventional Army units. Formally established on May 23, 1947, a primary role of this part-time force is to conduct surveillance or sovereignty patrols (SOV PATS) as required. Some Canadian Rangers also conduct inspections of the North Warning System (NWS) sites and act as guides, scouts, and subject-matter experts in such disciplines as wilderness survival when other forces (such as Army units of the Regular Force or Primary Reserve) are in their area of operations.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Canadian Armed Forces combined military forces of Canada

The Canadian Armed Forces, or Canadian Forces (CF), are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of His Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."

Northern Canada Region in Canada

Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Similarly, the Far North may refer to the Canadian Arctic: the portion of Canada that lies north of the Arctic Circle, east of Alaska and west of Greenland. This area covers about 39 percent of Canada's total land area, but has less than 1 percent of Canada's population.



The Canadian Rangers are a volunteer force made up of Inuit, First Nations, Métis and non-Aboriginals; however, it is a common misconception[ by whom? ] that the organization is a First Nations entity. The ethnic make-up of the numerous patrols across Canada is entirely an element of geography and while there is a heavy First Nations membership in many Canadian Ranger patrols (many being entirely First Nations), there also exist many mixed race patrols and some entirely non-aboriginal patrols, simply due to where the patrols reside.

The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. The Inuit languages are part of the Eskimo–Aleut family. Inuit Sign Language is a critically endangered language isolate used in Nunavut.

In Canada, the First Nations are the predominant indigenous peoples in Canada south of the Arctic Circle. Those in the Arctic area are distinct and known as Inuit. The Métis, another distinct ethnicity, developed after European contact and relations primarily between First Nations people and Europeans. There are 634 recognized First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.

The Métis in Canada are specific cultural communities who trace their descent to First Nations peoples who blended with European settlers, primarily the French, in the early decades of colonisation. These Métis peoples are recognized as one of Canada's aboriginal peoples under the Constitution Act of 1982, along with First Nations and Inuit peoples. As of 2016, they number over 587,545 individuals. Canadian Métis represent the majority of people that identify as Métis, although there are a number of Métis in the United States.

The Canadian Rangers provide a limited military presence in Canada's remote areas and receive 12 days or so per year of formal training (often more days of training are offered but attendance is not mandatory), albeit they are considered to be somewhat always on duty, observing and reporting as part of their daily lives. Canadian Rangers are paid when formally on duty according to the rank they hold within their patrol and when present on operations or during training events. They are paid in accordance with the standard rates of pay for Class-A (part-time) or Class-B (full-time) Reserve forces, except when they are called out for search and rescue missions or domestic operations (such as fighting floods and wildfires), when they are paid as Class-C Reserves and receive the full Regular Force pay and benefits.

The 5000 Canadian Rangers are split between five Canadian Ranger patrol groups (CRPGs), commanded by lieutenant colonels and each allocated to a Canadian division (except 1 CRPG, which is currently allocated to Joint Task Force North). Each CRPG is unique in its make-up, according to its area of responsibility, its geography, and its ethnic make-up. For instance, 3 CRPG, headquartered in Borden, Ontario, has a single province as its area of operations (AO), while 4 CRPG with its headquarters in Victoria, British Columbia, has four provinces. Thus the unit structures between 3 CRPG and 4 CRPG are very different. 3 CRPG has a unit HQ that contains all its full-time staff and has a number of Canadian Ranger patrols throughout the northern region of its province, whereas 4 CRPG has a unit HQ, a number of traditional sub-units ("companies"), and each company has a number of Canadian Ranger patrols. In all cases, it is the job of the Army full-time staff (mostly Class-B Reserve personnel, except for 1 CRPG whose full-time staff are predominantly Regular Force) allocated to the CRPGs to lead and administer the Canadian Ranger patrols in their unit. The patrols themselves are located in various remote, isolated, and/or coastal communities around Canada and each Canadian Ranger patrol is based on such a community. Canadian Ranger patrols are (on average) approximately 30 members strong (the equivalent of a platoon in a conventional Canadian Army unit) and are led by sergeants. The patrols are further divided into the patrol HQ consisting of the patrol commander (sergeant) and the patrol second-in-command (2/i/c - a master corporal) and three 10-member sections, each commanded by a master corporal who is assisted by a corporal.

Pacific Coast Militia Rangers

Modern Canadian Rangers can trace their history back to the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR). Formed on March 3, 1942, the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers were volunteers who patrolled, performed military surveillance, and provided local defence of the coastline of British Columbia and in Yukon against the wartime threat of a possible Japanese invasion. At their height, the PCMR consisted of 15,000 volunteers in 138 companies under three major patrol areas, which were Vancouver Island, the lower Fraser Valley and the Bridge River area. Some of the principal officers of the PCMR were Lieutenant-Colonel C.W. Peck, Lieutenant-Colonel A.L. Coote and Major H. Ashby. The Pacific Coast Militia Rangers were disbanded on September 30, 1945, after Japan's surrender in the Second World War.

British Columbia Coast coastline alongside the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia, Canada

The British Columbia Coast or BC Coast is Canada's western continental coastline on the North Pacific Ocean. The usage is synonymous with the term West Coast of Canada.

Yukon Territory of Canada

Yukon is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three federal territories. It has the smallest population of any province or territory in Canada, with 35,874 people, although it has the largest city in any of the three territories. Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon's only city.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.


Canadian Rangers with Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 4 rifles, 2011. Canadian Rangers.jpg
Canadian Rangers with Lee–Enfield Rifle No. 4 rifles, 2011.

Each Canadian Ranger is issued a red Canadian Ranger sweatshirt, CADPAT pants, combat boots, baseball cap, safety vest, rifle and navigation aids. They are expected to be mostly self-reliant regarding equipment. However, they are also provided with a small amount of patrol-level stores (mostly camp stores – tents, stoves, lanterns, axes, etc.). They are reimbursed for the use of personal vehicles and equipment and are paid for this use according to the nationally established equipment usage rates. Items that a Canadian Ranger could be reimbursed for include snowmobiles (called light over-snow vehicles, or LOSVs, in the military), all-terrain vehicles, watercraft, trailers, pack horses, sled dog teams, and a variety of tools and equipment (such as radios, chainsaws, generators, and the like).

CADPAT digital camouflage pattern

Canadian Disruptive Pattern is the computer-generated digital camouflage pattern first issued in 2002, and currently used by the Canadian Armed Forces (CF). CADPAT TW is designed to reduce the likelihood of detection by night vision devices.

Combat boot rugged, laced boot worn by soldiers during combat or training

Combat boots are military boots designed to be worn by soldiers during combat or combat training, as opposed to during parades and other ceremonial duties. Modern combat boots are designed to provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection suitable for a rugged environment. They are traditionally made of hardened and sometimes waterproofed leather. Today, many combat boots incorporate technologies originating in civilian hiking boots, such as Gore-Tex nylon side panels, which improve ventilation and comfort. They are also often specialized for certain climates and conditions, such as jungle boots, desert boots, and cold weather boots as well as specific uses, such as tanker boots and jump boots.

Baseball cap cap with a visor as worn by baseball players

A baseball cap is a type of soft cap with a rounded crown and a stiff peak projecting in front.

MakeTypeQuantityYear entered serviceDetails
Colt Canada C19 (licence-built Tikka T3 CTR)riflePredicted 6,8202017using .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO
Lee–Enfield Rifle No. 4 (to be replaced with Colt Canada C19 [2] )rifleN/A1941using .303 British
Astrocompass N/AN/AN/A
ParaComm PCX 250 High Frequency shortwave radioN/AN/AN/A


Since 1947, the Canadian Rangers have been issued the .303 British calibre Lee–Enfield No 4 rifle, with each user being provided with 200 rounds of ammunition every year.[ citation needed ]

.303 British .303-inch rimmed rifle cartridge

The .303 British or 7.7×56mmR, is a .303-inch (7.7 mm) calibre rimmed rifle cartridge first developed in Britain as a black-powder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee–Metford rifle. In 1891 the cartridge was adapted to use smokeless powder. It was the standard British and Commonwealth military cartridge from 1889 until the 1950s when it was replaced by the 7.62×51mm NATO.

At the outset of the Second World War, the rest of the Canadian Army was equipping with Enfield rifles, Bren guns, Webley revolvers, and Browning-Inglis Hi Power pistols and Canadian production of these weapons was badly needed for overseas service. The Pacific Coast Militia Rangers thus had to make do with what was readily available, often patrolling with their own rifles and shotguns. This led Canadian purchasing agents to look to American sources for rifles. At the time[ when? ] the most popular style of rifle in the North American West was the .30WCF (.30-30 calibre) lever action. As such, purchasers considered that the Winchester 1894 and Marlin 36 would be easy for the PCMR members to use, as they more than likely had experience with the type already. As a stop-gap until Enfield Rifles became available in numbers for issue, some 3000 Winchesters and an estimated 1800 Marlins were promptly acquired direct from North Haven (likely all these firms had on hand). Guns were issued as needed to senior members of the companies, but stocks of .30-30 ammunition was so limited that only six rounds were issued with the rifle while the rest was locked up in the company's armoury, typically in the vault of the local bank.

Webley Revolver

The Webley Revolver was, in various marks, a standard issue service pistol for the armed forces of the United Kingdom, and the British Empire and Commonwealth, from 1887 until 1963.

Browning Hi-Power American semi-automatic pistol

The Browning Hi Power is a single-action, semi-automatic handgun available in the 9mm and .40 S&W calibers. It is based on a design by American firearms inventor John Browning, and completed by Dieudonné Saive at Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Herstal, Belgium. Browning died in 1926, several years before the design was finalized. The Hi-Power is one of the most widely used military pistols in history, having been used by the armed forces of over 50 countries. After 82 years of continuous production, the Hi-Power was discontinued in 2017 by Browning Arms, but it remains in production under license.

Lever action

Lever action is a type of firearm action which uses a lever located around the trigger guard area to load fresh cartridges into the chamber of the barrel when the lever is worked. This contrasts to bolt-action, semi-automatic, or selective-fire weapons. Most lever-action firearms are rifles, but some lever-action shotguns and a few pistols have also been made. One of the most famous lever-action firearms is the Winchester Model 1873 rifle, but many manufacturers—notably Henry and Marlin—also produce lever-action rifles. Another famous example of a lever action firearm is the Winchester Model 1887 shotgun, which gained notoriety for being one of the signature weapons of Kyle Reese and the T-800 in the Terminator movie franchise. Even Colt's Mfg. Co. produced 1883 until 1885 6403 lever-action Colt-Burgess rifles. Mossberg produces the 464 in centerfire .30-30 and rimfire .22. While the term lever-action generally implies a repeating firearm, it is also sometimes —and incorrectly— applied to a variety of single-shot or falling-block actions that use a lever for cycling, such as the Martini–Henry or the Ruger No. 1.

The bolt-action Lee–Enfield was then issued to the PCMR as the standard rifle later during the war and it continued to be used by the Canadian Rangers when they were established in 1947. Due to the economy of the .303 (there were thousands left over after the war) and the robust nature of the rifle (especially in conditions such as extreme cold), it was not replaced for use even after being taken out of general service in the remainder of the Canadian military in the 1950s. It has remained in service with the Canadian Rangers for over 70 years and has proven to be most reliable in adverse conditions even in the Canadian Arctic environment.

Rifle replacement

Owing to the decreasing availability of spare parts, the replacement of the Lee–Enfield rifle had long been expected, and in August 2011, after user requirements had been determined, [3] the Canadian Forces officially issued a tender request for a bolt-action rifle compatible with 7.62×51mm NATO and .308 Winchester ammunition. Approximately 10,000 rifles were to be bought giving the system a service life of about 30 years. Project management is being provided by the Canadian Army's, Director Land Resources (DLR). The new rifles are a Finnish SAKO design, based on the subsidiary company Tikka's T3 Compact Tactical rifle(CTR). The rifle is being manufactured under licence by Colt Canada and to be in service by 2018. [4] The tender was cancelled in October 2011 due to contractual issues and a new tender was issued in 2014 for replacement rifles with a selection competition in 2015 and the winning design entering service between 2015 and 2019. [5] In April 2015, Colt Canada was selected to produce the rifle under licence. Thirty-three initial examples of the new rifle based on the CTR were delivered to the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) in Victoria, British Columbia, in June 2015, while Canadian Ranger instructors from across all CRPGs concurrently attended "train-the-trainer" training at the Small Arms section at the Combat Training Centre, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick. "Uncontrolled testing" was completed with 100 rifles in Nunavut in August 2015, while controlled testing was conducted in November 2015 in the British Columbia interior, facilitated by 4 CRPG. The rifles to ensure they would fire properly and remain accurate at temperatures as low as −51 °C (−60 °F) (laboratory conditions), as well as remain robust and serviceable amidst the rigours of transportation in vehicles and in particular on all-terrain vehicles. They are expected to be able to stop all large predators, including polar bears. Feedback from the Canadian Rangers was generally very positive, with only minor adjustments required, and has been incorporated in the final production rifles.

The new rifle features a heavy-taper stainless steel barrel, a detachable 10-round double-stack box magazine, custom iron sights calibrated from 100 to 600 metres, a specially laminated wooden stock with a unique reddish-grey pattern in the wood grain, stainless steel construction with extra corrosion resistant coatings, and enlarged trigger guards and bolt handles so they can be used without removing gloves. The barrel, bolt and receiver will be made by Colt Canada under licence from SAKO. In addition to the rifle, the accessories package will include a custom-moulded Pelican hard transport case (suitable for commercial aircraft transportation), plus a soft transport case for vehicles, such as snowmobiles and ATVs. The rifle will also be outfitted with a custom sling, extra magazines, a trigger lock and custom cleaning kit. The rifle's hard case and soft case, as well as the rifle butt stock feature the Canadian Ranger badge. The Ranger badge on the rifle stock will be engraved and in black relief. [6] The rifle will be designated the C19 rifle. Ammunition for the C19 will be a proprietary .308 Winchester round made in Quebec solely for the C-19 and will consist of the pairing of existing Canadian Forces' match (sniper) brass cases, paired with the Nosler Accubond 180-grain (12 g) bullet. The ammunition designation will be the C-180 round.

Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino announced that the DND planned to buy 6,820 rifles. [7] [8] [9] Including development costs, spare parts, and two million rounds of ammunition, the rifles are expected to cost $28 million.

Chain of command

The Canadian Rangers became part of the Canadian Army in October 2007, having previously been under the vice chief of the Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces. The commander of the Canadian Army is the Canadian Ranger National Authority (CRNA), but this role is delegated down to the Army Chief of Staff Reserve (ACOS Res), a brigadier-general. The commander of the Canadian Army has a small cadre of CRNA staff in Ottawa, headed by a Class-A (part-time) lieutenant-colonel and consisting of a full-time major and a small number of captains and master warrant officers. The conduit between the CRNA staff and the ACOS REs is the Director Army Reserve (DARes), a full colonel. These CRNA staff act as a conduit for information, assist with general development and improvement, assist in generating, modifying, and maintaining policy that addresses the unique nature of the Canadian Rangers (including administrative policy, unit establishment and structure, training policy, and logistical policy), and with the financing (overall funding model) of the Canadian Rangers. These staff are not directly within the chain of command and have no authority over the CRPGs, but are instead seen as the technical and advisory link between the Canadian Ranger units and the Commander of the Canadian Army.

Command and control of the respective Canadian Ranger units (known as Canadian Ranger patrol groups or CRPGs) is devolved from the commander of the Canadian Army down to his subordinate commanders of the various regional divisions. There are five CRPGs and each CRPG corresponds to one of the regional divisions (as seen below). The CRPGs tend to be provincially oriented, apart from 1 CRPG, which covers the whole of northern Canada north of the 60th parallel, and 4 CRPG which covers the four western provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). Each CRPG has a headquarters and a number of patrols, albeit that 4 CRPG's patrols are managed within a company construct, with provincially oriented companies each commanding their own patrols. The patrols tend to be centred on remote communities throughout Canada and are frequently named after the town or village they are from (the Terrace Patrol, in British Columbia, for instance).

Patrol areas

There are five main patrol areas of the Canadian Rangers. Each patrol area is directly controlled by the headquarters unit of a Canadian Ranger patrol group or CRPG (French : groupe de patrouilles des Rangers canadiens, GPRC).

Patrol groupRegionPart ofPatrolsRangersJunior RangersHeadquarters
1CRPG Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut 3rd Canadian Division 561,5001,500 CFNA HQ Yellowknife, Northwest Territories [10]
2CRPGQuebec 2nd Canadian Division 25696585 CFB Saint-Jean, Quebec [11]
3CRPG Ontario 4th Canadian Division 15422440 CFB Borden, Ontario [12]
4CRPG Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta 3rd Canadian Division 431,000800 CFB Esquimalt, British Columbia [13]
5CRPGNewfoundland and Labrador 5th Canadian Division 32950375 Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador [14] [15]

Junior Canadian Rangers

The Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) Programme was created on May 31, 1996, and consists of more than 3,400 members in 119 locations. Each CRPG is responsible for facilitating the JCRs and receive separate national funding for JCR activity facilitation. Each Canadian Ranger patrol has at least a couple of Canadian Rangers who directly look after the JCRs and JCR instructors are part of the CRPG's full-time staff Army personnel. At the national level, the Junior Canadian Ranger programme is maintained by the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Ranger Support Unit, commanded by a Reserve Brigadier General. The programme is open to young Canadians from ages 12 to 18. [16]


Because Ranger activities allow Northerners to exercise jurisdiction and control, they demonstrate that traditional indigenous activities continue unbroken to the present and are supported by Ottawa. Their very presence is an affirmation of Canadian sovereignty.

Rangers remain an essential bridge between northern peoples, the military, and the federal government more generally - an essential liaison role that ensures that as the CAF expands its footprint in the North it does not crush local communities.

Rangers are not just the eyes and ears but also the voice of the military in their communities. They represent an ongoing conversation about what is happening in remote regions, about how the military can best operate in the North, and about the importance of connecting considerations of sovereignty and national security to a strong sense of place.

As the CAF improves its ability to operate in the North, the Canadian Rangers will continue to play an important role in gathering intelligence, teaching southern personnel, and demonstrating Canada’s sovereignty over the land and waters through their daily activities. They are a poignant reminder that, at its core, sovereignty is more than lines on a map. It is the human activities that occur within those lines.

See also

Similar units of other countries

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  6. Canadian Rangers Replace Lee-Enfields with Tikka T3 CTRs
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  14. "5th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group". November 3, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
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Further reading