32 Sigs – A Proud History

32 Signal Regiment is the communication unit of the greater Toronto region’s 32 Canadian Brigade Group of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is composed of part-time and full-time Reserve and Regular Forces tradespersons, high school and university students, professionals and public servants who enjoy serving their country in the profession of arms. The Regiment encompasses the following elements:

Regimental Headquarters – Fort York Armoury, Toronto
1 Squadron (ATHENA) – Canadian Forces Base Borden
2 Squadron (2nd Signalling Company) – Fort York Armoury, Toronto
Support Troop (The Depot, RC Sigs) – Toronto and Borden

The Regiment’s earliest component was established in Toronto in 1907 – the 2nd Signalling Company of the newly established Canadian Signalling Corps, a component of Militia District No. 2. The 2nd Signalling Company employed semaphore flags, heliographs, and lamps to dispatch their messages. The construction of telegraph and telephone lines was still the responsibility of the Canadian Engineers, but the 2nd Signalling Company maintained a detachment that paraded with the 2nd Engineer Company in Toronto. In 1911 the 2nd Signalling Company was renamed No. 2 Signal Company.

In August 1914, upon the outbreak of the First World War, 36 officers and signallers from No. 2 Signal Company travelled to Valcartier, Quebec to join the 1st Canadian Divisional Signal Company. During the war, the telephone, telegraph, runners, and pigeons became the standard methods of transmitting messages on the battlefield. In some cases radios were available as well. Members of No. 2 Signal Company, along with hundreds of other signallers, engineers, and guides served in the different companies of the Canadian Corps Signal Service during the great and terrible battles of 1915 through 1918.

Following the First World War, the companies of the Canadian Signal Corps were reorganized into battalions, and telegraph and telephone specialists from the Canadian Engineers were transferred into the new Signal units. Along with No. 14 Signal Company in Hamilton, No. 2 Signal Company was grouped into the 2nd Signal Battalion with headquarters in Toronto. The new unit thrived over the following two decades, moving into an armoury at 185 Spadina Avenue in Toronto in 1924. In short order, they founded a Trumpet Band in 1926, joined the Canadian Signals Association, and won the Malloch Trophy in 1930, 1932, and 1934. In the summer of 1936, the Regiment commanded the largest training concentration of Signals formations ever assembled at Camp Borden, and the Royal title was granted to the Militia Signals Corps. In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals was arguably the best prepared element of the Canadian Army, and signallers were the first soldiers to be mobilized from Toronto and Hamilton to gather for war a second time. Members of the Regiment served in all of the Signal units within the First Canadian Army, through Italy, France, Northwest Europe, and elsewhere.

The latter half of the 20th Century saw the Regiment through many successive reorganizations, in particular the unification of 2nd Signal Regiment and 8th Signal Regiment into the Toronto Signal Regiment in 1964. This unit moved to Fort York Armoury in 1966, and was renamed 709 (Toronto) Communication Regiment during the unification and integration of the Canadian Forces in 1970. The Regiment’s trumpet band was divested from the Canadian Forces in 1970, but it has sustained itself as a civilian band ever since and continues to parade with the Regiment as the duty band. In 1962, a filter centre of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps was established at Camp Borden. After a decade of reorganizations, this unit became 700 (Borden) Communication Squadron in 1974. Over the following three decades, signallers from 709 and 700 served their country in Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Iran & Iraq, Central African Republic, the Persian Gulf War, Croatia, Bosnia, Haiti, the Golan Heights, Afghanistan, and Canada.

In 2011, 709 (Toronto) Communication Regiment and 700 (Borden) Communication Squadron amalgamated to form 32 Signal Regiment. The signallers of 32 Signal Regiment perpetuate a long and proud history from the Canadian Signalling Corps, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, the Communications and Electronics Branch, and the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals over a hundred years through to the future.