The Centennial Gallery is located on the first floor of the museum and features many fascinating artifacts in three main groups. The south wall presents a collection of cap badges. The left panel on this wall features cap badges from various Canadian units during the First World War, while the right panel has badges from the Second World War. The central panel illustrates the evolution of The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) cap badge. The west wall (Ivey Medal Gallery) presents awards and honours that a soldier might receive. Visitors can see examples of different military medals, as well as sets that belonged to various members of The RCR. The east wall presents Honorary and past Colonels of The Regiment.
Cap badge display
Colonels of the Regiment display
Ivey Medal Gallery
Backstory and Context
The Centennial Gallery contains an interesting variety of artifacts from a number of time periods.
There are three panels of cap badges on the west side of this space.
First World War Cap badges are located in the left panel and represent the majority of the numbered and named infantry battalions that were part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). There were over 250 numbered battalions in the CEF. There were two named battalions including The RCR and PPCLI. Most battalions designed cap badges featuring symbols that represented their units' purpose, identity, and location. For example, the 199th (Irish Rangers) Battalion badge featured a shamrock, and one 122nd (Muskoka) Battalion badge featured a man paddling a canoe on a rocky lake. Many units chose familiar Canadian symbols to include on their cap badge, with the maple leaf being the most popular.
With more than 130 years of history The RCR has had a number of different cap badges - these are examined in the central panel. An interesting aspect of The RCR’s cap badge evolution occurred after the regiment gained the “Royal” designation and were given permission to wear the royal cypher of Queen Victoria on their badges and buttons in 1893.
Authorized by Militia General Order 35 of May 1894, these orders described the approved "Forage Cap Badge" as:
"A silver eight-pointed star, with a raised gilt circle same as for centre of the helmet plate, but in proportion, the Royal and Imperial cypher (V.R.I.) in frosted gilt, surmounted by the Imperial Crown, dimensions of the star, 2 inches."
Queen Victoria’s cypher includes the acronym “VRI,” which means Victoria Regina et Imperatrix (Victoria, Queen and Empress). Traditionally, when the current reigning monarch passes away, the cypher depicted on regimental badges would change to match the newly crowned monarch. For example, when Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, the “VRI” cypher on the badge would change to “ER VII” for King Edward VII. The regiment wished to continue wearing the late queen’s cypher and began petitioning to retain it after her death. Many officers would continue to wear cap badges with “VRI” through the First World War, while other ranks tended to wear badges that featured the “ER VII”, and later “GRV” cyphers. It would not be until 1919 that the regiment gained special permission from King George V to wear “VRI” in perpetuity.
General Orders 1919
Regimental Crest--Royal Canadian Regiment
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the Royal Canadian Regiment retaining in perpetual use the cypher "V.R.I." on the badges and buttons of the regiment.
At the bottom of the case you can also find cap badges of the Canadian Forces today and in 1968.
The final section of cap badges contains badges from the army during the Second World War. They are organized to show different army formations during the war. For example, The RCR wore the red patch of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and were part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade along with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, and the 48th Highlanders. Together, they would take part in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.
Ivey Medal Gallery
Three of the four vertical panels in this display show examples of different honours, decorations, and medals. Panel one, on the left, includes the Order of Military Merit, Order of Canada, long and meritorious service medals, and decorations for valour and bravery. The second panel focuses on awards for service, also known as campaign stars or medals. They include medals from various conflicts including the two World Wars, Korean War, and Afghanistan. The fourth panel focuses on UN and NATO medals. The UN medals look fairly similar and employ the same blue colour, but each of the ribbons are different to indicate where the mission took place.
A number of medal sets are on display. For example, there is a representative set for Brigadier Milton F. Gregg. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, as well as a Military Cross and Bar, during the First World War. He is one of only two individuals associated with The RCR to have been awarded a Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious decoration for military valour. Gregg also served with The RCR in England during the Second World War until 1942, when he was made the commander of the Officers' Training School in Brockville, Ontario. Post war, he would serve as a Member of Parliament and work for the United Nations.
Another notable set belongs to General Charles Foulkes. In November 1944, he was made General Officer Commanding I Canadian Corps in Italy. He continued to hold this command during the campaign in Northwest Europe. He accepted the surrender of General Blaskowitz of the 25th German Army on 5 May 1945 in Wageningen, Netherlands. The drawers contain sets of medals from members of The RCR who served from 1883 to the present day.
Honorary and Past Colonels of The Regiment
The east wall of the Centennial Gallery features past and honorary colonels of The RCR. The wall begins with the original Honorary Colonel Sir Garnet Wolseley. Honorary Colonel was the term used until 1959, today the position is known as Colonel of the Regiment.
As described in the exhibit, “A Colonel of The Regiment helps to foster esprit de corps: advises National Defence Headquarters on matters of significance, property, charities, and organizations of The Regiment: liaises between units of The Regular and Reserve Forces: and advises the Regiment on matters of dress and customs. The Colonel of The Regiment is a traditional appointment bestowed by The Regiment on a distinguished person, usually a former senior officer.”.
The wall also features photographs of Honorary Lieutenant -Colonels; with the exception of the years 1939-46. This appointment is only used in the militia or reserve battalion of the regiment.
A number of key Colonels of the Regiment are featured with their uniforms, including Brigadier Milton F. Gregg, Major-General Daniel Spry, and Colonel Frank Klenavic.
The current Colonel of the Regiment is the Right Honorable David Lloyd Johnston, PC CC CMM COM CD FRSC FRCPSC.
Fetherstonaugh, R.C.. The Royal Canadian Regiment 1883-1933. Fredericton, New Brunswick. Centennial Print and Litho Ltd. , 1981.
Harris, Stephen. Charles Foulkes, The Canadian Encyclopedia . January 29th 2008. Accessed July 20th 2020. https://thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/charles-foulkes.
Juno Beach Centre . Lieutenant-General Charles Foulkes, Canada in the Second World War. March 31st 2014. Accessed July 20th 2020. https://www.junobeach.org/canada-in-wwii/articles/lieutenant-general-charles-foulkes/.
O'Leary, Michael. Badges of The Royal Canadian Regiment: Crowns, Cyphers and Controversy, Regimental Rogue. 2007. Accessed July 20th 2020. http://www.regimentalrogue.com/rcrbadges/crowns_cyphers_controversy.htm.
Stacey, C.P.. Six Years of War . Volume 1. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War . Ottawa, Ontario. Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationary , 1955.
VCGC Association. Milton Fowler Gregg, VC, PC, OC, CBE, MC, ED, CD, VC Online . Accessed July 20th 2020. http://www.vconline.org.uk/home/4585899435.
The RCR Museum Photograph
The RCR Museum Photograph