THE BEGINNING: ARMY CADETS
Cadets is one of Canada's oldest youth programs.
Early cadet units called “Drill Associations” began in the late 1800’s as part of a school program to train boys over the age of 12 in military skills and drill.
The Navy League of Canada was founded in 1895 to support the creation of the Canadian Navy.
In 1902, the League sponsored Canada's first Boys and Girls' Naval Brigades.
CADET INSTRUCTORS CADRE
The Cadet Instructors Cadre originated in 1909 and was formed primarily of school teachers.
This arrangement between the Federal Government and local school boards contributed significantly to the development of physical education programs in Canadian schools.
In 1910, Lord Strathcona, Sir Donald alexander Smith (the Canadian High Commissioner to Britain) deposited $500,000 in trust with the Dominion Government for cadet development in physical fitness, marksmanship and drill.
WORLD WAR ONE
40,000 former army cadets and several thousand former sea cadets served during World War One. By the end of the war there were 64,000 boys enrolled in army cadet corps across Canada.
The Air Cadet League of Canada was formed in 1940 in partnership with the Royal Canadian Air Force to sponsor young men as future aircrew.
By the end of World war Two, they had raised 374 squadrons with an enrolment of 29,000 air cadets.
WORLD WAR TWO
World War Two brought about a renewed public interest in the cadet program and corps were formed in many high schools. It is estimated that nearly 230,000 former cadets served during World War Two.
In recognition of the significant contribution of former cadets to the war effort, His Majesty King George VI conferred the title Royal to the Cadet Program, creating the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.
UNIFICATION OF THE CANADIAN FORCES
In the 1960’s, the Canadian Forces underwent a complete reorganization resulting in the unification of the Navy, Army and Air Force. At that time, a Directorate was established in Ottawa to coordinate the activities of the Sea, Army and Air Cadets. By the 1970’s, the cadet program was standardized across the country.
THE ARMY CADET LEAGUE
The Army Cadet League of Canada was formed in 1971 to work with the Department of National Defence in support of Army Cadets.
GIRLS IN THE CADET PROGRAM
Despite the fact that they were prevented by law, girls have unofficially participated in cadet training from the start. During World War Two several corps had female cadets.
On July 30, 1975, Parliament amended the relevant legislation by changing the word “boys” to “persons”, officially permitting girls to become Cadets. Today, girls represent thirty-six percent of all cadets in Canada.
The Cadet Program continues to evolve and adapt in order to meet the expectations of our changing society.
Over a century later, Cadets remains the youth program of choice by helping prepare today’s young Canadians to become tomorrow’s leaders.