The History of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada was first established on November 24, 1910 by a group of Vancouverites of Scottish descent. Upon official affiliation with the Seaforth Highlanders of the British Imperial Army, the “72nd Highlanders of Canada” was re-designated the “72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada” on April 15, 1912 and the “72nd Regiment Seaforth Highlanders of Canada” on December 16, 1912. The Regiment received its first stand of colours from the Governor-General, HRH the Duke of Connaught, in 1912. 

At the outbreak of World War 1, the eager young Regiment offered itself for overseas service.  The offer was refused until 1916; a total of 41 officers and 1,637 other ranks were drafted to other Canadian infantry units, in particular the 16th Battalion CEF.  The Regiment perpetuated the 72nd Battalion which would later be attached to the 12th Brigade, 4th Canadian Division, and the 231st Battalion, which provided reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. 

In 1916, however, the Regiment sailed for France as the 72nd Battalion CEF, and very soon Seaforths were committed to battle.  The 72nd quickly gained a reputation among friend and foe for its professional conduct, and particularly, for patrolling and aggressive trench raids. 

The Regiment paid a heavy cost in blood during its numerous actions in the war.  At Vimy Ridge, the 72nd helped spearhead the attack that won Canadian troops their reputation as the finest shock troops on the Allied side – but after the battle, only 11 officers and 62 men remained.  The battle of Passchendaele saw the Regiment advance, before dawn, up a gully waist deep in mud in the pouring rain to capture its objective – which British generals had assessed as requiring a full Division of 15,000 soldiers. 

When the veterans returned to Vancouver they brought with them sixteen battle honours. This recognition of courage did nothing to dispel the fact that, of the 3,791 officers and men who served as Seaforths during the war, 2,515 of them became casualties. 

The Regiment received its second stand of colours from Lt. Gen Sir Arthur Currie on April 1, 1919.  Re-designated “The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada” on September 15, 1920, the Regiment forged ahead in efficiency during the inter-war period and was selected to become a part of the 1st Canadian Division. 

 During the First World War, the Army Cadet Organization thrived, with more than 64,000 Cadets enrolled, thousands of whom volunteered to serve Canada overseas. Interest in Army Cadets ebbed between the two wars only to be significantly revived during the Second World War as Canadians looked to their youth to serve their country. 

In the 1960s, the Canadian Forces underwent a complete reorganization resulting in the unification of its Navy, Army and Air Force. At this time a Directorate of Cadets was established in Ottawa to set policy and to coordinate the activities of the Sea, Army and Air Cadets. The focus of the Cadet Program changed from training future Canadian Forces members to developing community leaders and good citizens. 

By the 1970s, administration of the Canadian Cadet Program became standardized across Canada. Other changes occurred around this same time. The Army Cadet League of Canada was officially formed in 1971 to work with the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defense in support of Army Cadets. The first female Cadets were introduced to the program in 1975. 

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Cadets were established almost 100 years ago and celebrated their Centennial in 2012. From 72nd Seaforth Cadet Corps based at the Seaforth Armoury on Burrard Street in Vancouver, the cadets have expanded to 6 Corps throughout the Lower Mainland and on the Sunshine Coast. Today, over 300 young men and women are proud to call themselves Seaforth Cadets. Cadets Canada has become the biggest youth movement in Canada.