The rank of General
was an uncommonly held rank in the Canadian Army up until 1968.
Before Unification the rank was considered appropriate for an
officer in command of an Army (i.e. a formation of two or more
Corps). The term "general" is also a common term for any General
Officer (i.e. holding the rank of Brigadier General, Major General,
Lieutenant General, or General) regardless of actual rank.
The rank of General traces its lineage back to the Middle Ages, when
the highest officer in an army was referred to as Captain General. A
Captain General outranked the Lieutenant General and Sergeant Major
General (later shortened to Major General). Over time, the Captain
designation was dropped. Other similar ranks in other nations have
included Colonel General. In some armies, a General has been
outranked by a Field Marshal; the Canadian military has never
authorized that rank or included it in its organizational structure.
Up until the time of Unification in 1968, the insignia for a General
included a set of gorget patches in addition to his standard badges
of rank. The rank of General was introduced after the First World
War in Canada, and a general officer insignia was identified by a
crossed baton and sabre surmounted only by a rank star and crown,
the pre-1922 insignia for a Lieutenant General.
Canadian Forces Slip-On
At the time of Unification in 1968, the rank of General had been
re-introduced and was considered the appropriate rank for the Chief
of the Defence Staff. The insignia was changed to consist of the
crown, a crossed sabre and baton, and four maple leaves replacing
the rank star. The number of maple leaves matched the number of
stars an American General employed in his rank insignia, and the
rank was sometimes referred to colloquially as a "Four Leaf General"
in emulation of US colloquialisms such as "Four Star General". It is
also sometimes referred to in conversation as a "Full General" (i.e.
not diminished by a prefix).
The rank of General was held by General H.D.G. Crerar as commander
of the First Canadian Army. The rank was next held by General Jean
V. Allard as the first Chief of the Defence Staff following
Unification. The rank was then the standard working rank for the