Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1961, but raised in Mount Albert, Ontario, Major-General McQuillan enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1980. He attended The Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1984 and completed his Basic Military Engineering Training in 1985.
Major-General McQuillan’s initial posting was served with Construction Engineering at Canadian Forces Base Kingston as the Production Officer, Engineering Officer and Requirements Officer. He commanded from the troop to regiment level with 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, as part of the Special Service Force and 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group: regimental command occurring between 2002 and 2004. He served as Commander 2 Area Support Group (2008-10). He served as Deputy Commanding General – Development, 1st Cavalry Division, United States Army / Combined Joint Task Force – 1 (CJTF-1), Regional Command–East, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghanistan (2011-2012).
Major-General McQuillan’s staff assignments included operations positions in Land Force Command Headquarters (LFC HQ) (1992-1994), the Strategic Joint Staff (1999-2000), Chief of Staff (COS) of the Kabul Multinational Brigade Headquarters (KMNB HQ), ISAF (2003-2004). He was the Director of Staff, NATO Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters Brunssum, located in The Netherlands (2005-2008). He was the Assistant COS, Canadian Expeditionary Force Command responsible for operations in Southwest Asia (2010). Other staff assignments have involved doctrine writing at LFC HQ and personnel administration as G1 Land Forces Central Area Headquarters (2001-2002). Finally, instructional and directing staff appointments have included an exchange tour at 12 Regiment, The Royal School of Military Engineering in England (1990-1992) where his instructional duties included engineer support to air operations – helicopter, harrier, and airfield damage repair, The Canadian Forces Military Engineer School (1995-1996), and The Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College (2004-2005). Prior to his current posting he was the Chief of Staff Army Operations, Canadian Army (2012-2015).
Major-General McQuillan has several prior international operational tours including a year of service as a Senior Technical Advisor with The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (1994-1995), as Officer Commanding the Engineer Squadron in the 1st Battalion, RCR Battle Group with NATO in Bosnia (1998), the aforementioned deployment as COS KMNB HQ in Afghanistan (2003-2004), and as Deputy Commanding General – Development, CJTF-1 (1st Cavalry Division HQ) in Afghanistan. His domestic operations experience includes in aide of the civil power operations while Officer Commanding the Engineer Support Squadron to 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) on Op AKWESASNE (1990).
Major-General McQuillan is a graduate of the Canadian Army Command and Staff College, the Canadian Forces College (Joint Command and Staff Course), and the United States Army War College where he obtained a graduate degree in Strategic Studies. He is a Professional Engineer registered in the Province of Ontario. Major-General McQuillan is married to Elizabeth McQuillan (née Rattray) of Kingston, ON, and has two adult children, Megan and Grady.