Girl Guides of Canada

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Girl Guides of Canada
French: Guides du Canada
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario
FoundedSeptember 7, 1910
  • Girls: 75,432
  • Adults: 20,226
As of 2016[1][2]
Chair, Board of DirectorsRobyn McDonald
AffiliationWorld Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
 Scouting portal

Girl Guides of Canada – Guides du Canada (GGC) is the national Guiding association of Canada. Guiding in Canada started in September 7, 1910 and was among the founding members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in 1928.[3]


An outdoor storytelling session for the 72st Toronto Pack, 1938

Mary Malcolmson organized the first Canadian Girl Guides Company to be officially registered in St. Catharines, Ontario; their registration is dated 1910-01-11. A park in St. Catharines was later named for Mary Malcolmson. Other Guide Companies were registered later in 1910 in Toronto, Moose Jaw and Winnipeg. The First Toronto Company held the first-recorded Girl Guide Camp in Canada on the banks of the Credit River in June 1911. By 1912, the movement had spread to all parts of Canada, and had become so popular that on 24 July 1912 Agnes Baden-Powell created Mary, Lady Pellatt "Chief Commissioner of the Dominion of Canada Girl Guides". Many Guide events were held at Lady Pellatt's home, Casa Loma, in Toronto. It is now a tourist attraction with a special Girl Guide display. In 1917, the Canadian Government passed an Act of Parliament approving the Constitution of the Canadian Girl Guides Association, as it was then known.

In 1918 Newfoundland's first Guide Company was formed, even though the Province did not become part of Canada until 1949.

The Salvation Army adopted Guiding as part of its program for girls in 1937 when it became officially associated with the organization. Although the Army disassociated itself from the program in 1998, it continues to offer a form of Guiding to its girls.

The Canadian Girl Guides Association changed its name in 1961, again by Act of Parliament, to "Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada".

A recent initiative Girl Guides of Canada has undertaken is called “Thought Leadership” in which they conduct research on the challenges and issues facing girls, and use this information to develop relevant programming.[4] Their most recent report Sexism, Feminism & Equality: What Teens in Canada Really Think, released in October 2018, highlights how young people feel about gender inequality and how this inequality impacts their lives.[5]

Guides franco-canadiennes[edit]

In 1962 "Les Guides Catholiques du Canada (secteur français)" became a member of Girl Guides of Canada. This organization had originally been active only in the Province of Quebec but over the years had developed a small membership in other provinces. It had its own program, uniform and administration but acknowledged the Chief Commissioner of Canada as the head of Guiding in Canada and had membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. In 1992 "Les Guides Catholiques du Canada (secteur français)" became a separate, unaffiliated organization known as "Guides francophones du Canada". In 1995, they became officially affiliated with Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada again, as "Les Guides franco-canadiennes". This affiliation ended in 2006.


Girl Guides of Canada is the largest organization for women and girls in Canada. The membership is organized into different groups according to age. These are Sparks (ages 5 and 6), Brownies (ages 7 and 8), Guides (ages 9 – 11), Pathfinders (ages 12 – 14), and Rangers (15-17+) .

The new program called Girls First was just launched in 2018 and is meant to be a catalyst for empowering girls.

There is also a program for girls who, for whatever reason, are not able to physically attend unit meetings. They are known as 'Lones' and complete the program of their branch by correspondence with a Lone Guider.

Two of Guiding's newest initiatives are Extra Ops and Trex. These programs are for members who have more specific interests (i.e. Camping or Hiking), Trex and Extra Ops programs are generally adopted by girls who are already a member of a branch of Guiding.

Adult women over the provincial age of majority[6] are welcome in the organization as Leaders or Guiders. There are also places for volunteers in Public Relations, office jobs, and other important facets of the organization. A program for women ages 18–30 called "Link" is in place for young women who wish to retain or establish their ties with Guiding but who may not be able to give of their time to the extent of being a Guider. However, Link members are sometimes Guiders or will hold other positions within the organization as well. Link members choose to meet when convenient to do so and will often participate in various Guiding events.

Adult members over the age of 30 have the option of becoming Trefoil Guild members. A woman can opt to be a member of the Trefoil Guild and participate in other roles within the organization. Trefoil Guild groups usually meet once or twice a month, and often participate in various Guiding events. Many Trefoil Guild members are senior citizens, some of whom have decades of Guiding experience.



The Sparks program is for five and six-year-old girls. Their program book is called "Go Sparks Go!" Sparks participate in a wide variety of activities with other girls of the same age. The Sparks uniform was originally a pink shirt with the Sparks promise, "I promise to share and be a friend.", printed on it, they now wear the same blue T-shirts as brownies through rangers, except with pink inserts at the collar and sleeves. Sparks have the chance to work towards nine "keepers" (badges). The nine "keepers" are:

  • Being a Spark: The activities for this keeper introduce girls to the Sparks program and include learning the Sparks promise, singing songs and participating in an enrollment ceremony.
  • Being Me: This keeper involves helping the girls discover themselves and reinforcing friendship.
  • Going Outside: These activities take the girls into the outdoors and help them learn about their natural environment.
  • The World Around Me: This keeper focuses on increasing the girls' awareness of Guiding in other countries.
  • Being Healthy: This keeper promotes positive body images by learning to take care of you body and staying healthy. This includes eating well and getting lots of exercise.
  • In My Community: This keeper allows Sparks to explore their community and local institutions such as schools, libraries and fire halls.
  • Exploring and Experimenting: These activities allow girls to look beyond their immediate environment and discover new and exciting things.
  • Going Camping: The goal of this badge is to introduce concepts of independence and outdoor living to the young girls.
  • Brownies and Beyond: These activities let Sparks learn about the Brownie program before advancing to a new unit.[7]

Sparks wear their enrolment pin and these badges on a sash.


Brownies are 7 and 8-year-old girls. Brownies aim to develop a sense of identity and a positive relationship with others by participating in a varied program of activities. Their uniforms used to be brown, then changed to orange and navy blue, and are now the uniform blue T-shirt with brown insets at the collar and sleeves. The Brownie program book is called "Brownies Can Do It!", and is divided into ten "keys". There are program requirements to complete each key, and a number of corresponding optional "interest badges". The keys are: Key to Brownies, Key to Me, Key to My Community, Key to I Can, Key to Active Living, Key to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Key to the Living World, Key to Camping, Key to the Arts, Key to Girl Guides.


Guides are girls between 9 and 11 years of age. Guides are encouraged to do service projects to help their communities. Guides learn about people in other countries and are encouraged to discover and explore issues which are important to them. Their uniforms, originally navy blue, were then sky blue and navy blue, and are now the uniform blue shirts with navy blue insets and the collar and sleeves. The program is called "Guides on the Go" and was first distributed in 2006. There are four program areas: You in Guiding, You and Others, Discovering You and Beyond You.[8] Girls can earn their Lady Baden Powell Award, the highest achievement a Guide can earn, as well as many different "interest" badges. Occasionally Guides help sparks and brownies, earning a crests entitled " spark/brownie helper". Guides can go camping, canoe, Have a sleepover, or help a local women's shelter.


Pathfinders are girls between 12 and 14 years old. They focus on community service, leadership and camping. In Pathfinder units the girls are very independent and plan many camps, district camps, and meetings. The units are also usually very small, so the Pathfinders are usually close friends and very welcoming to new members. Their uniforms were green T-shirts, or white tee shirts, with the opposite coloured sleeves, they are now uniform blue with green inserts on the collar and sleeves. Pathfinders also wear a white neck tie with green maple leaves on it. Their program was revised and the new edition, "Listen, Learn, Lead, Live!", was released in 2006. Through program work, girls can earn their Canada Cord, the highest achievement that can be earned by a Pathfinder. To earn the Canada Cord award, a Pathfinder must complete 20 select modules (about 4 activities each usually) participate, plan and lead 3 camps and/or leadership events, earn her community service award by working 15 hours of community service, participate in two Ranger meeting bridging activities, lead three bridging activities for younger girls (Usually guides or brownies, but occasionally sparks) complete a first aid course given by a recognized agency, and earn her citizenship certificate by doing 8 activities out of the be a model citizen module. Girls have 3 years to complete this if she chooses too. The Canada Cord requires a great commitment to guiding to be earned. Any girl registered in Girl Guides as a pathfinder is eligible to earn her Canada Cord award, regardless of how long she has been a member with Girl Guides of Canada.


As of September 2008, girls between the ages of 15 and 17 (or older) are known as Rangers (prior to that date three branches of the GGC existed for youth in this age bracket: Rangers, Cadets and Junior Leaders, the latter two now defunct). The new Ranger program is very flexible and allows members the opportunity to pursue the areas of Guiding which are of interest to them (Camping, working with younger members, community service, etc.). Adult leaders are there for guidance, but it is the Rangers who are responsible for planning and executing their activities. The Rangers uniforms were the same as those worn by the adult members, with the addition of a neck tie that is white with red maple leaves, however with the new uniforms the Ranger shirts now match the rest of the girl uniforms with red insets on the collar and sleeves. Red is the colour that is associated with the Ranger branch.

Awards that can be earned while in Rangers include the Girl Guides of Canada Chief Commissioner's Award, the Cookie Campaign Challenge Pin, the Ranger Service Project Pin and the Commonwealth Award. The Chief Commissioner's award has three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The Chief Commissioner's Gold award is the ultimate award a youth member can earn within Girl Guides of Canada. Rangers can also earn the Ranger Certificate for being an active unit member and the Junior Leader Certificate for helping with a younger branch of Guiding.


Adult women can be a leader in a unit, or they can choose to be a member of Link or Trefoil Guild, depending on their age. Some members choose to participate in both functions.


The Guiding movement is based on the principles outlined in the Promise and Law. Every Guide makes this promise when she is enrolled. The Promise and Law were renewed in 1994, and on 13 January 2010, the current Promise was unveiled.

Promise (current)[edit]

I promise to do my best,
To be true to myself, my beliefs, and Canada.
I will take action for a better world
And respect the Guiding Law.

Promise (1994-2010)[edit]

I promise to do my best,
To be true to myself, my God/faith and Canada;
I will help others,
And accept the Guiding Law.

  • The word God or the word faith is chosen according to each girl's own personal convictions.
  • The Brownie Promise finishes with "And respect the Brownie Law".

Promise Guides (pre-1994)[edit]

I promise, on my honour, to do my best:
To do my duty to God, the Queen, and my country,
To help other people at all times,
And to obey the Guide Law.

Promise Brownies (pre-1994)[edit]

I promise to do my best:
To do my duty to God, the Queen, and my country.
To help other people everyday, especially those at home.

Spark Promise (current)[edit]

I promise to share and be a friend.

Law (current)[edit]

The Guiding Law challenges me to:

  • Be honest and trustworthy
  • Use my resources wisely
  • Respect myself and others
  • Recognize and use my talents and abilities
  • Protect our common environment
  • Live with courage and strength
  • Share in the sisterhood of Guiding.

Guide Law (pre-1994)[edit]

  • A Guide's honour is to be trusted.
  • A Guide is loyal.
  • A Guide is useful and helps others.
  • A Guide is a friend to all and a sister to every Guide.
  • A Guide is courteous.
  • A Guide is kind to animals and enjoys the beauty in nature.
  • A Guide is obedient.
  • A Guide smiles and sings even under difficulty.
  • A Guide is thrifty.
  • A Guide is pure in thought, word, and deed.

Brownie Law (pre-1994)[edit]

A Brownie is cheerful and obedient. A Brownie thinks of others before herself.

Girl Guide Cookies[edit]

Girl guides in 1969 with cookie boxes to sell

Girl Guide Cookies are a tradition in Canada. Inspired by America's Girl Scout Cookies, they were first baked by a Guide leader, Christina Riepsamen, in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1927. They were sold door-to-door, with a bag of 12 cookies costing 10 cents (equivalent to CA$1.47 today), for the purpose of earning passenger rail fares for a camping trip to a lake. The sales were brisk, requiring extra batches to be baked to meet demand. It was then adopted as a simple way to raise money for uniforms and camping equipment.[9][10]

In 1929, the National Headquarters began selling the cookies across Canada. Girl Guide cookies have gone through many recipe changes but the goals remain the same. Girl Guide cookies today are the largest fundraiser for the organization, and are used to help support the girls in their program and activities.[11]

There are two different cookie campaigns, one in the fall and the other in the spring. The fall cookies are the chocolatey mint cookies, similar to the Girl Scout Thin Mints cookies sold in the United States. The classic vanilla and chocolate sandwich cookies are sold in the spring.

Manufactured by Christie's from 1960-2003, they are now made by Dare Foods Limited. This was due to Christie's inability to meet the Girl Guides' new "nut-free" requirement.

According to, modern Girl Guide Cookie history began in 1946:[12]

  • 1946—Introduction of vanilla crème cookie, maple cream and shortbread
  • 1949—The embossed trefoil on the cookies was introduced in Ontario. The supplier was Barker-Bredin. The price is 25 cents a box (equivalent to CA$2.73 today).
  • 1953—A box of 24 cookies is 35 cents (CA$3.33 today). The sandwich-type cookie, in vanilla & chocolate, is introduced
  • 1955—The cookie supplier becomes Weston's, Canada. Price rises to 40 cents a box (CA$3.78 today).
  • 1960—The supplier changes to Christie's. They make a special sugar-topped cookie to celebrate the 50th Jubilee of Guiding in Canada
  • 1963—Girl Guides switches to plain cookies
  • 1966—Vanilla & chocolate sandwich-type cookies brought back
  • 1967—Canadian centennial cookies produced
  • 1968—The price rises to 50 cents a box (CA$3.55 today)
  • 1985—Special cookies to celebrate 75 years of Guiding in Canada
  • 1993—Chocolate mint cookie introduced, starting in Ontario
  • 1995—Chocolate mint cookie introduced to all provinces
  • 2003—Supplier changes to Dare. They did face some complaints when the taste changed after the switch to Dare Foods.


Guiding Mosaic 2010 was held in from 8–17 July at Guelph Lake Conservation Area in Southern Ontario. Over 2,500 girls and women attended the camp.[13] Participants came from across Canada as well as from many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

On 8 July 2010, Canada Post made a stamp to commemorate the centennial of the Girl Guides.[14]


  1. ^ "2016 Annual Report". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Girl Guides of Canada Strategic Plan 2016-2017" (PDF). Girl Guides of Canada. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Archived from the original on 15 April 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  4. ^ "Thought Leadership". Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Sexism, Feminism & Equality: What Teens in Canada Really Think". Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sparkling Ideas! Program Ideas for Spark Guiders, Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada, 2004.
  8. ^ "Girl Guide Branches - Guides". Girl Guides of Canada, Ontario Council. September 2005. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  9. ^ "Cookie Story". Girl Guides of Canada Guides du Canada. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  10. ^ "Canadian foodies create new ways with Girl Guide cookies". CTV News. The Canadian Press. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  11. ^ Cookie Booklet March 2007 Saskatchewan Council; Girl Guides of Canada
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Guiding Mosaic 2010". Seaway News. 2 September 2010. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  14. ^ Canada Post Stamp Details, July to September 2010, p.14, Volume XIX, No. 3

External links[edit]