Famous Members

His Honour, Col. (Ret'd) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell OC OMM AOE MSC CD LLD

His Honour, Col. (Ret’d) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell was installed as the 17th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta on May 11, 2010. His vice-regal duties came following a distinguished career in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Donald Ethell was born in Victoria. B.C. and joined the Canadian Army (Regular) as a rifleman in the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1955. He moved to the PPCLI in 1970 and was commissioned as an officer in 1972. His service included NATO duties in Germany as well as extensive service in Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Central America and the Balkans. During the first Persian Gulf War he served as the Chief of Staff/Deputy Force Commander with the Middle East-based Multinational Force & Observers. In 1987 he received the Meritorious Service Cross for his work with neutral observers to plan and negotiate large scale, short notice prisoner of war exchanges in the Middle East. His last tour of duty was as the Canadian Head of Mission to the European Community's Military Mission to the former Yugoslavia during the wars of 1992 in both Croatia and Bosnia. Colonel Ethell retired from the Army in 1993.

In retirement, he travelled extensively as a military advisor and worked to support veterans causes. He also became involved with CARE Canada, which maintains refugee camps in Eastern Kenya and Somalia, and with the International Committee for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering (ICROSS), which delivers aid to Africans facing starvation and AIDS-related illnesses.

Don and his wife, Linda, have been married since February 1960. Their family includes two sons and daughters-in-law, Darrell/Ruth and Doug/Iryna, and two grandchildren, Natalie and Alec.

Donald Ethell


General Sir William Dillon Otter, KCB, CVO, VD20.

As a Captain and Adjutant of The Queen's Own, Otter first went into action at the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866, fighting a group of Fenians . As Lieutenant Colonel he was Commanding Officer of The Queen's Own from 1875 until 1883, when he became Commander of the Infantry School Corps (later named the Royal Canadian Regiment) in the newly formed Canadian PermanentForce. In 1885, now Colonel Otter, he commanded the Battleford Column in Western Canada during the North-West Rebellion and fought and defeated Cree Chief Poundmaker in the Battle of Cut Knife Creek. In the South African (or Boer) War of 1899-1902 Otter commanded the Royal Canadian Regiment, which included members of The QOR. Before his death in 1929 he achieved the rank of General and had been Chief of General Staff in Ottawa.

Major General Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, CVO, DCL, VD. Joining as a Rifleman, Sir Henry commanded The Queen's Own Rifles from 1901-1920. At the time an extremely rich man he was very generous to The Queen's Own. In 1910 he personally financed a five-week trip for over 600 Queen's Own personnel, plus officers' horses, to sail to England to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Queen's Own in 1860. Unfortunately, a combination of the financial depression of 1929 and many bad investments forced him to declare bankruptcy and he died penniless, living in a small house owned by his former chauffeur. His Regiment lives on, however, with its museum located in Casa Loma and open to the public.


Major General Malcolm Smith Mercer, CB. Malcolm Smith Mercer was born on the Peel - York County boundary on 17 September 1859. His family were large landowners in Peel County. He was a lawyer by profession and opened his law office in Cooksville, Ontario.

Mercer’s first love, however, was the military. As a young man he had served with The Queen’s Own Rifles in the 1885 North-West Rebellion. He stayed with The QOR after the rebellion and by the outbreak of the First World War he was a Lieutenant Colonel in command of our Regiment.

He was created a Brigadier General on 29 September 1914 and a Major General on 22 November 1915. He became the Officer Commanding the 3rd Canadian Division on 24 December 1915 and was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath in that same year. He was mentioned in despatches on at least three occasions.

As General Officer Commanding, Mercer was killed in Flanders on 2 June 1916 , in Armagh Wood near Observatory Ridge at the outskirts of a village called Zillebeke. He was the highest-ranked Canadian officer to be killed in action.

The Right Honourable Sir John Morison Gibson. Joined The QOR in 1860 and was a Wimbledon Rifle Challenge marksman in 1874. He was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in 1908, serving until 1914. He was knighted in 1912.


The Right Honourable Vincent Massey, C.H. Born in Toronto in 1887. His ancestors originated in Knutsford, County Cheshire, England emigrating to Salem, Massachusetts, USA in the late 1620’s. After several moves the family made a final one from New York State to Upper Canada in 1800, settling in Toronto.

He enlisted in The Queen’s Own 1907. The story goes that in August 1914 while touring France with his brother he cabled The QOR and volunteered for active service, but received no reply. He spent most of the war years at Camp Borden where he was in charge of musketry training for the military district. During the course of which he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.

He was appointed Governor General in 1952. With Vincent Massey's appointment as Governor General, a new tradition began – he was the first Canadian appointed to the post, and from that day the Governor General has always been a Canadian citizen. Mr. Massey's term as Governor General was extended twice.

Honorary Lieutenant Colonel, The Honourable Barnett J (Barney) Danson, PC, CC, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (Fr.) Former Minister of Defence in the Trudeau Government, Barney Danson enlisted in The Queen's Own at the beginning of the Second World War, aware of the Nazi threat and knowing several families who had been driven out of Germany due to the outbreak of hostilities. He lost the sight in one eye when wounded in France in August 1944 and after hospitalization returned to Canada. He had a distinguished political career, which he describes in his book, Not Bad, For a Sergeant. He and his wife Isobel are regular attendees at Queen's Own events, including the annual Remembrance Day parade.

Colonel J (Jim) GK Strathy, OBE, CD, ED served as a Pilot Officer in the RCAF and qualified for his wings in 1926. He then joined The Queen’s Own Rifles, and was appointed Adjutant in 1929. After many appointments within the regiment he volunteered and joined the Canadian Active Service Force in 1940. The Second World War saw Colonel Strathy serving overseas in Europe and was appointed Director of Military Training (Infantry) in January 1943. In 1960 Colonel Strathy was appointed Colonel of The Regiment, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and retired in May 1970.


WO 11 Charles Cromwell Martin, DCM, MM (1918 - 1997) Became at twenty-four one of the youngest company Sergeant Majors in the history of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. He served in ‘A’ Company 1st Battalion. In the D-Day invasion, June 6th 1944, Charlie Martin was one of the first of 4,123 to hit the beaches of Normandy at Bernieres-sur-mer. Charlie Martin was wounded in April 1945 in Sneek Holland. His war was over.

After a full recovery he returned to Canada and lived very happily with his war bride Vi and son Rick. Charlie raised his family in Missisauga and in his civilian capacity worked for The Department of Agriculture. He was a leader and a symbol of those who worked to shape a free and caring society. The passage of time will not forget Charlie Martin, a warrior, a gentleman and citizen soldier who passed away on 13 October 1997. For his service to Canada Charlie Martin was awarded The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and the Military Medal (MM) for Heroism. In 1994 Charlie Martin authoured ‘Battle Diary’ from D-Day and Normandy to The Zuider ZEE and VE.

Brigadier Benjamin (Ben) Dunkelman, DSO (1913 - 1997) was a Canadian who served in The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada during the Second World War.

His father was David Dunkelman, the founder of the Canadian men's retailers, Tip Top Tailors.

Educated at Upper Canada College in Toronto, Dunkleman enlisted with The Queen's Own Rifles and saw action at Caen, Falaise, and the Battle of the Scheldt.

After the war, Dunkelman returned to Canada, but again decided to travel to war, this time to fight for Israel in the spring of 1948. He arrived there at a time when the Israeli army was short of officers with combat experience, and he became the commander of the 7th Brigade, the country's best-known armoured brigade.

There is a bridge on the Lebanese border called Gesher Ben in Dunkelman's honour. His story is told in the film Ben Dunkelman: The Reluctant Warrior.

Captain John McCrae. John McCrae is remembered for In Flanders Fields, probably the single best-known and popular English-language poem from “The War to End All Wars.” He died of pneumonia while on active duty Flanders in 191823.

He began his connection with the military becoming agunner with the Number 2 Battery in Guelph in 1890, Quarter-Master Sergeant in 1891, Second Lieutenant in 1893 and Lieutenant in 1896. While attending the University of Toronto, he was a member of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada during which time he was promoted Captain.

During the South African war John McCrae served with the Guelph contingent which became part of D Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. John McCrae resigned from the Artillery in 1904 after being promoted to Major. He was not involved with the military again until 1914.

In August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Canada, as a member of the British Empire, was automatically at war, and its citizens from all across the land responded quickly. Within three weeks, 45,000 Canadians had rushed to join up; John McCrae was among them. He was appointed brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery with the rank of Major and second-in-command. Before his death he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel.

Alexander Muir. A school teacher and principal in Scarborough and Toronto, Alexander Muir, who wrote the famous anthem The Maple Leaf Forever, enlisted as a Rifleman shortly after The Regiment was formed in 1860. The stirring march is often played by the Regimental Band and Bugles of The Queen's Own Rifles.


Lieutenant-General Charles H. Belzile, CM, CMM, CD. LGen Belzile is a former Commander of the Canadian Army (1981-1986). Enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1951, he served in both command and staff positions throughout a career which spanned 35 years. His service over the years took him to Korea, Germany, Cyprus and all over Canada. Inter alia, his appointments have included regimental duty with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion Royal 22e Régiment, Commandant Combat Arms School as well as Commander 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group and Canadian Forces Europe in Germany.

Since retirement from the army and the Canadian Forces, he has worked as a Vice-President with SNC Industrial Technologies and as a private consultant. In addition to other honorary appointments, he also served as Colonel of the Royal 22e Régiment. He held a two year appointment as Chairman of the Conference of Defence Associations. He is the immediate past president of the Canadian Battlefields Foundation, a member of the Valiants Foundation and Honorary Grand President of the Royal Canadian Legion.

He is, since 1986, a Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur of France and in 1999 was the recipient of the Vimy Award.

Major-General Herbert C. Pitts, MC, CD. Upon graduation from RMC in 1952 MGen Pitts was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). Within six weeks he had arrived in Korea and was assigned to 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as a Platoon Commander. With the arrival of the 3rd Battalion, he remained with that unit and was later awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and leadership in action. He returned to Canada just before the ceasefire, having transferred to the Infantry Corps.

In 1954 General Pitts joined the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada where he remained for three years including the Suez deployment in 1956 followed by a posting to HQ, 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade and he departed for Germany shortly thereafter. In 1960 he attended the British Army Staff College in Camberley and then was posted to the Army Council Secretariat in Ottawa. In 1962 he was promoted Major and joined the 2nd Battalion, QOR in Calgary. Thereafter he was again posted to Germany as Brigade Major from 1964 to 1967.

In 1967, General Pitts was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel to command the 1st Battalion, QOR in Victoria until 1969 whereupon he was assigned as an Exchange Instructor to the United States Army Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Following this posting he attended the National Defence College in Kingston until promotion to Colonel to command the Canadian Airborne Regiment in Edmonton from 1971 to 1973. He was promoted Brigadier-General in 1973 and posting to National Defence Headquarters. He remained at NDHQ for five years and as a Major-General served in various capacities until his retirement in 1978 after 30 years of dedicated service.

Following retirement he served in various capacities including Colonel of the Regiment, the Canadian Airborne Regiment and the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Infantry Corps and Honorary-Lieutenant Colonel of The Queen’s own rifles of Canada. His accumulated uniformed service being 44 ½ years.

Since retirement he has been awarded numerous honours and awards and is now resident in Victoria, B.C. with his wife Marianne.

BGen Christopher de Lavelle Kirby, CD. (1924-2012) Born in Lahore, Punjab, India in 1924 and arrived in Calgary, Alberta in 1933.

General Kirby’s first encounter with the military was through Sea Cadets and then as a Trooper (later Lance Corporal), Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC) to Assistant Instructor, Battle Drill, at OTC, Brockville in 1943. Then to 2 CACRU (Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit) in Aldershot, England from 1943 to 1944, followed by pre-OCTU in Blackdown and OCTU at Sandhurst, 1944 – 1945.

Returning to Canada he joined the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Camp Borden in 1945 followed by a three years at Queen’s University, Kingston where he graduated with an Arts degree in 1949.

He then served with the PPCLI from 1949 to 1952 followed by a posting as the Adjutant, Royal Canadian School of Infantry from 1951 to 1952 before joining the 2nd Canadian Rifle Battalion (which became 2nd Battalion, QOR of C) where he served as a platoon commander from 1952 – 1954. He then served at The Queen’s Own Depot, Calgary before becoming a student on the Canadian Army Staff College in 1954.

He was then posted as a Staff Captain “Q” at HQ, Central Ontario Area from 1956 to 1957. He then had several positions with 2 QOR as a Rifle Company Commander, Battalion Operations Officer in Victoria, Germany and Calgary during 1957 – 1960.

He then became the GSO2, in the Directorate of Operations in Army HQ (1961 – 1964) before being posted and promoted to command 1 QOR in Victoria and Cyprus from 1965 to 1966. This was followed by a posting as GSO1, Directorate of Operations at NDHQ (1967 – 1968).

General Kirby then attended the Imperial Defence College, London, England in 1970. He then became the Assistant Commandant, Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, Kingston from 1971 to 1972. He then was the Senior Canadian Military Officer, 1CSC, in Indo China from 1972 to 1973.

Returning to Canada he was promoted and posted as Commander, CAST Combat Group and 2 Combat Group, Petawawa, North Norway, Schleswig-Holstein, Zealand from 1974 – 1976.

General Kirby then Commanded the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College from 1977 to 1979, retiring from active service in 1979. Settling in Kingston, Ontario, where he now lives, he was the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, The Brockville Rifles from 1983 – 1993. General Kirby died in March, 2012.

Major General Lewis MacKenzie. Nova Scotia-born Major General MacKenzie joined The Queen's Own as a young officer in September 1960, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and posted to 2 QOR of C in Calgary as a Platoon Commander and Intelligence Officer. Late 1961 he was posted to Germany to 1 QOR of C as Platoon Commander and Unit Sports Officer. In 1963 he was posted to CBUME (Canadian Base Unit Middle East) with UNEF in the Gaza Strip as Sports Officer for Canadian Contingent. In 1964 posted to 1QOR of C in Victoria (Pl Comd, Recce Pl Comd), 1965 to Cyprus with 1QOR of C (Recce Pl Comd), 1967 posted as Exchange Officer to 2nd Bn the Queen’s Regiment, 10th Armd Brigade in Lemgo West Germany and promoted Captain. From there, in 1969, he spent a six month tour at HQ FMC in Montreal and thence to Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston and was rebadged PPCLI while on course.

Major General MacKenzie served in Germany with NATO forces, did nine tours of peacekeeping in the Gaza Strip, Cyprus, Vietnam, Cairo, Central America and Sarajevo and in 1990 was appointed commander of the UN's Observer mission in Central America. Two years later he was assigned to the UN's Protection Force in Yugoslavia, eventually commanding soldiers from 31 countries that opened the Sarajevo airport for the delivery of humanitarian aid during the height of the Bosnian civil war. His account of his military experiences, Peacekeeper, Road to Sarajevo, became a best seller in 1993. He retired after 36 years in the military in 1993, and now is active as a writer and public speaker. For relaxation, he races open-wheel sports cars.

Sir Hugh John Macdonald, PC
Hugh John Macdonald, PC (13 March 1850 – 29 March 1929) was the only surviving son of the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, and was a politician in his own right, serving as a member of the Canadian House of Commons, a federal cabinet minister, and briefly as Premier of Manitoba.

Hugh enrolled in the QOR, 9 Company, on 13 October 1868 as a Riflemen. He rose to the rank of Corporal then Sergeant before being commissioned as an Ensign on 22 April 1870. He retired from the QOR on 26 April 1882.
He saw active service on three occasions. He spent the summer of 1866 with the 14th Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles near Cornwall in anticipation of a Fenian invasion. In 1870 he joined the expedition of Colonel Garnet Joseph Wolseley and made the trek to the Red River settlement (Manitoba) as an Ensign. During the North-West rebellion in 1885 he would serve as Lieutenant in the 90th (Winnipeg) Battalion of Rifles, a unit he helped to organize. He saw action at Fish Creek (Saskatchewan).



"In Pace Paratus - In Peace Prepared"