Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Military Engineers

Coutumes et traditions du Génie militaire canadien


The Canadian Military Engineer Branch is steeped in history and this `Red Book` provides an excellent reference for all military Engineers to ensure that those time-honoured traditions and customs are maintained and passed on. These traditions and customs define who we are as Engineers within the Canadian Armed Forces.

New recruits should treat this manual as mandatory reading to gain a better understanding of the Canadian Military Engineer Branch. All leaders within the Branch should read this manual and keep a copy at hand to ensure that our customs and traditions are properly adhered to on all occasions.


J.S. Sirois Major-General Chief Military Engineer


Military Engineers are people “…of all work of the army and the public: astronomer, geologist, surveyor, draughtsman, artist, architect, traveller, explorer, antiquary, mechanic, diver, soldier and sailor; ready to do anything or go anywhere.”

 Capt T.W.J. Connolly (1815-1885), Royal Engineer Historian

As Captain Connolly so eloquently stated, and as our motto suggests, Canadian Military Engineers are truly everywhere. Whether it is firefighters serving on ships in the Royal Canadian Air Force Bases, construction engineers building camps on operations, or Sappers preparing ice runways in the North, our diverse Branch is prepared to assist the entire Canadian Armed Forces to live, move and fight – and deny the same to the enemy.

The traits that define us as the Canadian Military Engineer Branch are quite unique to the Canadian Armed Forces. As such, it is important to maintain this uniqueness and hence why it is important to have a book, such as this, to capture and document our great traditions.

This `Red Book` provides a great resource to everyone within the Branch, from the new recruit who in learning the traditions of the Branch, to the seasoned veterans who need to revisit it and ensure that we all continue to uphold the customs and traditions that have made us what we are today. Take pride in who we are, what we have done, and what we will do next… everywhere.


S.M. Irwin
Brigadier-General (Retired)
Colonel Commandant
Canadian Military Engineers

The CME Branch publishes a complete compendium of Canadian Engineer customs, officially titled "Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Military Engineers" A-JS-007-003/JD-001, but traditionally known as the "Red Book".

Use the links to download a complete copy or chapter by chapter.

Instrumental versions of 'Wings', the CME March Past and the traditional drinking song 'Hurrah for the CRE' are also available for download. There are vocal versions of 'Hurrah for the CRE' on YouTube, as well as recorded videos of Wings. The CME shares this music with the Royal Engineers and other Commonwealth Sappers.

  • Wings contains two tunes: "The Path Across the Hills", a traditional tune from Germany; and "Wings", a Victorian ballad composed on 1850 by a Miss Dickinson. Click here for more detailed description of the song's origin. Click here for the words to the song.
  • Hurrah for the CRE originated during the South African War is sung in a mixture of English and Zulu. Click here for the words.