The Ceremonial Guard - Backgrounder

Backgrounder / June 17, 2017 / Project number: cg-bkg

Composition of the Ceremonial Guard

The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of trained soldiers from both the Regular and Reserve forces, including members from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy. A summer task at the Guard is a highly sought-after position, offering soldiers the opportunity to act as Canadian Armed Forces ambassadors and to demonstrate their excellence throughout the National Capital Region.

Soldiers who are interested in positions with the Ceremonial Guard should make their chains of command aware of their interest.


Every guardsman or musician must complete at least a basic military qualification to wear the uniforms of either the Governor General’s Foot Guards or the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Upon arrival in Ottawa, the soldiers undergo training – including music rehearsals, inspections, and foot and rifle drills – leading up to the start of Public Duties. Public Duties are also physically demanding tasks that require members to be fit and active. This means that members are required to do continual fitness training in order to handle the rigours of their ceremonial duties.


Soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard come from many CAF units across the country, with the Guard continuing the individual traditions of Canada’s two Foot Guards regiments — The Governor General’s Foot Guards (GGFG) and the Canadian Grenadier Guards (CGG). Both units wear the bearskin hat, which was first adopted by the United Kingdom Grenadier Guards after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and later adopted by all Guards Regiments in 1831. The regiments are easily discernable by the coloured plume in the bearskin hat: red for Foot Guards and white for Grenadier Guards. All of the bearskin hats worn by the Ceremonial Guard are more than 20 years old and are well-maintained from the thorough care they have received over the decades.


The Public Duties season includes the annual “Fortissimo” event, which will take place at 7:00 p.m. from July 19 to 21, 2018 on Parliament Hill. There will also be a full dress rehearsal open to the public at 7:00 p.m. on July 18, 2018. Fortissimo is a military and musical spectacular created for the lawns of Parliament Hill, featuring massed military bands, pipes and drums, guest performers and the soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard. It is a showcase event in the Nation's Capital that has drawn thousands of spectators since it began in 1997.

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