Our first Canadian “School of Military Engineering” was authorized in July 1907 and included such components as; a Construction School, Electrical School, Mechanical School, Field Works Division, and a Telegraphy School.
That school operated in Halifax until the start of WW I when it was closed for the duration of the war. It re-opened in August 1927 as “The Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering.” At the start of WW II the school was transferred to the Active Service Force and renamed: “The Royal Canadian Engineer Training Center.” Moved to Camp Petawawa, Ontario in June 1940, it was later renamed “A5 - Canadian Engineer Training Center” in February 1942 and operated until October 1945. A second similar school: “A6 - Canadian Engineer Training Center,” was established in Dundurn, Saskatchewan in April 1941 to meet the increasing demand for trained sappers. This school moved to Chilliwack, British Columbia one year later where it conducted training for the rest of the war.
When the Army reduced to a small Permanent Force after the war, the school’s name returned to “The Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering” in October 1946. Some 40 years later its role significantly expanded in December 1968 to meet the needs of the former Navy and Airforce within the newly unified Canadian Armed Forces. It was renamed “The Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering” and Military Engineer training continued in Chilliwack for another 30 years until January 1998 when the school was moved to CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick upon closure of CFB Chilliwack.
In its new location, CFSME is the busiest school at the Combat Training Centre and annually trains some 1500 students on course lengths varying from 5 days to 9 months. It conducts 85 courses for 13 different Military Occupations.
Training continues to evolve to meet the changing needs. Officers receive their engineering degree from RMC or other universities and receive their basic Officer training at the Infantry School before undertaking Military Engineering Officer training at CFSME. Commissioned Officers return to CFSME for Advanced Training later in their career. The School also teaches a wide variety of trades courses for Non-Commissioned members who will return to CFSME for technical training throughout their career. In addition to Sapper training, courses encompass the construction trades of Carpentry, Electrician, Plumber, the mechanical trades of HVAC, Electrical Distribution, Water & Fuel storage and distribution, Environmental, etc and specialties such as operation of earth-moving equipment and the handling of Improvised Explosive Devices. CFSME also runs all Conventional Munition Disposal and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal training for the Army Navy, and the Air Force. In addition, CFSME is the Centre of Excellence for Army combat diving.
Since the opening of the School of Military Engineering in 1907 officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and sappers of both the Regular and the Reserve Forces have undergone training at one of its locations. Through this contribution, trained Engineers have been provided for two world wars, the Korean War and numerous United Nations operations as well as the day-to-day operations of the Canadian Forces.