The Canadian Army’s Royal 22e Régiment, the Van Doos, dates back to 1869 and today they are the only French-speaking Regiment of the Regular Force. Make no mistake about blue flannel-wearing “Jon Paul” Quebecois jokes, the Van Doos are legit, especially when it comes to cold weather ops.
In 1919, after returning with 21 Battle Honours from a very serious tour on the Western Front during the Great War, the unit was barracked in metropolitan Quebec.
On 22 May 1920, the Van Doos moved into the City’s historic Citadelle on Cap Diamant, the site of fortifications protecting the city going back to 1608.
This month the Regiment celebrates its 100th year in residence, which remains a functioning military installation as well as an official residence for the Monarch– the Queen is their Colonel-in-Chief– as well as being the typical summer home of Canada’s Governor General.
In such official public duty at the Citadelle, with the site entertaining a quarter-million visiting tourists each year, the Van Doos wear the familiar scarlet uniforms and bearskin caps of British Foot Guards regiments.
They earned them, having stood post at St. James and Buckingham in 1940, during the Blitz, the first French-speaking unit to do so. In that gig, they wore standard kit, down to gas masks, and charged SMLEs.
Their traditional mascot, Batisse, is a goat, and their motto is Je me souviens, (I remember).