Major has been
a military rank in the Canadian Army throughout the 20th Century.
The rank of Major was originally, in English, a term used to suffix
to other military positions, in order to denote a more senior status
than others of the same position. The term appears to have been in
use as early as 1643, when the term "Sergeant Major" was used to
identify the third in command of a regiment. The term was previously
in use in other European militaries, however, particularly naval
services, with a "Pilot Major" being the senior deck officer of a
vessel (in contrast to the "Captain General", usually an Army
officer with no seafaring knowledge, who commanded the mission a
ship was on but not the ship itself).
Major became a separate rank in the Army by the time of the English
Civil War, generally held by mid-level staff officers tasked as
aides-de-camp to generals.
The term Major was also used in the rank of Major-General during the
1700s, itself a shortening of the rank Sergeant Major General.
By the 1800s, the
rank of Major was commonly used in modern European armies, having
developed into both a senior staff rank, the first such rank to
occupy the ground between battalion command and the company (or
"company grade") ranks of 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant and Captain.
The term Major was used as a suffix for many ranks and appointments
in the Canadian Army from before 1900 and through the 20th Century,
such as Drum Major, Pipe Major, etc.
From November 1902
until Unification the rank of Major was designated by a single
crown. After unification, the rank was designated by two thick rows
of rank braid, with a thin row of braid in the middle.
The rank of Major was commonly held by both staff officers and field
officers, generally by those commanding company sized sub-units or
acting as second in command of battalion sized units. Some units
have actually had Major as the prescribed rank for their command.
were addressed by rank and name; thereafter by subordinates as "Sir"