close up of canada flag on army uniform

Military History of PEI

A Brief History of the Military in PEI

The original militia

militia: a military force comprised of civilian population, who are called into service in emergencies.

The first Militia Act was passed in Prince Edward Island in 1780, stating that Islanders should be well armed and properly trained to defend themselves.

While the government did arm the first Island militia, members had to provide their own uniform (from an accepted local pattern). The iconic tree, well known today to represent the province, was first used in the early 1800s on an etched breast plate worn by members of the PEI Volunteer Militia.

Members trained once a year, and by 1829, the unit had grown to 5,400 members. The unit then split into different localized ones, spread out over various Island communities.
 
Shortly after Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1873, the Canada Militia Act of 1875 reorganized all militia units.

Present Day

PEI's military is made up of three separate units:

  • Prince Edward Island Regiment (PEIR)
  • 36 Signal Regiment
  • Prince Edward Island Naval Reserve
Each unit has its own diverse history, mission, and focus.

Prince Edward Island Regiment (PEIR)
The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC) officially formed on 25 June 1875 in Charlottetown, when the formation of the Queen's County Provisional Battalion of Infantry was authorized.

It has been through many changes since then, emerging as what is known today as the Prince Edward Island Regiment, a reserve unit based at the Queen Charlotte Armoury at the west end of Water Street in Charlottetown. There is an additional training unit in Slemon Park, Summerside.

To learn more about the Prince Edward Island Regiment (PEIR), click here.

36 Signal Regiment

The original Signals regiment officially formed in 1904 (12 Signaling Section), becoming the second authorized Signals unit in Canada at the time. Following WWI, the unit underwent four name changes, the present-day Regiment deriving its lineage from 5 Signal Regiment when it stood up in 1970. Prior to becoming 36 Signal Regiment, the unit was known as 721 Signals Regiment.

The Regiment is located at Brighton Compound, Victoria Park, Charlottetown, PEI.

To learn more about 36 Signal Regiment, click here.

PEI Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve was created in 1914 (renamed Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1923). The volunteer unit was replaced in 1945 with the formation of The Naval Reserve (renamed Canadian Forces Naval Reserve in 1968 and Royal Canadian Naval Primary Reserve in 2012).

Her Majesty's Canadian ship HMCS Queen Charlotte is the Naval Reserve Division in Charlottetown, PEI.

In the early twentieth century, recruitment began in PEI for the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve. Initially, 30 members were enrolled, but recruitment soon grew and membership expanded. On November 1, 1941, the unit was commissioned as a division.

Members of the PEI Naval Reserve train out of Charlottetown, at the HMCS Queen Charlotte building.
 

Please note - If you have any historical information that you would like to see on this page, please contact the PEI MFRC at info@pei-mfrc.org