Canadian Officers Training Corps

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Previous/other names: N/A

Prominent date(s) of activity: 1915 - late 1960s

History: The New Brunswick University Contingent of the COTC was officially formed in November of 1915. The original objective of the contingent was to supply the active militia with officers by providing elementary military training to university students. Sixty-two members enrolled in October 1915, and nineteen of those members left the University for overseas service before the academic year had ended. The Captain and instructor—Dr. W. L. MacDonald—enlisted in during the summer of 1916 and a replacement was difficult to procure, resulting in the postponement of activity during the 1916-17 academic year. The contigent was revived the next academic year when Professor Adam Cameron assumed the role of instructor. Sixteen of forty-six members left for war before the end of that academic year. In the final year of the war, COTC membership had been reduced to twenty-two. Members trained in Squad Drill, Platoon Drill, Company Drill, and Extended Order Drill, as well as attended lectures in a variety of topics including Duty, Discipline, Parts of the Ridle and Care and Cleaning of Arms, Map-reading and Field Sketching, etc.

The UNB Contingent was disbanded and reorganized in the fall of 1920 under Major Adam Cameron and resumed training activities.

Until 1940 the COTC provided elementary military training that enabled students to qualify for commissioned rank upon graduation, but as soon as Canada joined the Second World War the focus shifted to supplying potential officers for active military services. In these wartime years, more emphasis was placed on training for fighting and assault. Membership peaked at two hundred and seventy-six in 1941.

After the Second World War, the COTC quickly moved toward a much smaller contingent of 48 Officer-Cadets chosen by a Selection Board of Faculty members. There was no organized training during the winter of 1946 as the University waited for reorganizational instructions from the Canadian government. Instead of physically training throughout the school year, these students were paid to participate in a sixteen week training camp over the summer holiday. During the year, they attended weekly training in essential military theory.

Activities: During the First World War, members trained in Squad Drill, Platoon Drill, Company Drill, and Extended Order Drill, as well as attended lectures in a variety of topics including Duty, Discipline, Parts of the Ridle and Care and Cleaning of Arms, Map-reading and Field Sketching, etc.

In peace time, the UNB Contingent supplied the Guard of Honour for the openings of the New Brunswick Provincial Legislature, as well as for King George VI during his Royal Visit of 1939.

During the Second World War the COTC increased in size and importance reaching the highest membership total since being founded during the First World War. In the summer of 1940 the COTC travelled to Camp Sussex for two weeks to train. The college time-table was revised for the next fall semester to provide more time for training and participation became compulsory for all male students registered at UNB. The University began to give credit for "Military Subjects" such as Signaling and Artillery. In the fall of 1942, Sunday parades became a weekly affair.

Note(s): The COTC benefitted from the new Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium, which provided space for an Orderly Room, Quartermaster Store-Room, Arms Room, Rifle Range, and Drill Hall.

In 1942, the University Air Training Corps was also established on campus enrolling approximately one third of male students at UNB.

In 1947, the University Naval Training Division was formed on campus.

Source(s):

  • UNB Contingent COTC Scrapbook, 1915-1945.
  • University of New Brunswick. Memorial Magazine 1914 -1919. New Brunswick, n.d. 
  • Montague, Susan. A Pictoral History of the University of New Brunswick. University of New Brunswick, 1992, p. 83.
  • The University Monthly, vol. 35, no. 3, December 1915, p. 9-10.
  • The University Monthly, vol. 36, no. 1, October 1916, p. 19.
  • The University Monthly, vol. 37, no. 1, October 1917, p. 15.
  • Up the Hill, 1938-41, Organizations.
  • Up the Hill, 1942, War Effort.
  • The Brunswickan, vol. 60, no. 11, 17 January 1941, p. 1.
  • The Brunswickan, vol. 65, no. 14, 14 February 1946, p. 1.
  • Up the Hill, 1947, Organizations.
  • The Brunswickan, vol. 69, no. 2, 17 October 1949, p. 1.


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