List of Prime Ministers of Canada by military service

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This is a list of the Prime Ministers of Canada and their military service

The Prime Minister is not Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, rather the role is held by the Queen of Canada and is held on behalf of the monarch by the Governor General of Canada.

Prime Minister Service Rank Active Service
Sir John A. Macdonald Sedentary Militia Private Kingston during Upper Canada Rebellion 1837; Minister of Militia and Defence 1860-1867
Alexander Mackenzie Canadian Militia Major None; member of militia in Lambton, Ontario (1866–1874)
Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott Canadian Militia commanding officer (Lieutenant Colonel?) None; officer of 11th Argenteuil Battalion militia in Montreal area (1866-1874?)
Sir John Sparrow David Thompson none none none
Sir Mackenzie Bowell Canadian Militia Lieutenant Colonel Canadian militia posted along the border during the American Civil War; member of 49th (Hastings) Battalion of Rifles militia unit in North Hastings, Ontario (1867–1872); Minister of Militia and Defence 1892 and 1896 (acting)
Sir Charles Tupper none none none
Sir Wilfrid Laurier none none none
Sir Robert Laird Borden none none none
Arthur Meighen none none none
William Lyon Mackenzie King none none none
Richard Bedford Bennett none none none
Louis St. Laurent none none none
John Diefenbaker Canadian Expeditionary Force (Permanent Active Militia) Lieutenant Served during World War I (1916–1917) in Britain as member of 196th Battalion (Western Universities), CEF
Lester Bowles Pearson Canadian Expeditionary Force (Permanent Active Militia) Lieutenant Served during World War I in Greece and Egypt as member of Canadian Army Medical Corps and later in the Royal Flying Corps as Pilot (1915–1918) in Britain
Pierre Trudeau Canadian Army Home Service / Canadian Army Reserve Officer cadet None; Served in Canadian Officers' Training Corps from 1943 to 1945 in Montreal during World War II, but never deployed overseas
Joe Clark none none none
John Napier Turner none none none
Brian Mulroney none none none
Kim Campbell none none none; Minister of National Defence 1993
Jean Chrétien none none none
Paul Martin none none none
Stephen Harper none none none
Justin Trudeau none none none

Only seven Prime Ministers have served in the military:

  • Four Prime Ministers served in volunteer militia units (see Canadian Militia) attached to the British Army in Canada in later part of the 19th century
  • One Prime Minister (Trudeau) was a cadet (not a full member) of the volunteer Canadian Army during World War II
  • Only Diefenbaker and Pearson served as officers and overseas (during World War I)
  • Seven Prime Ministers were members of the Army (none in the Navy or Air Force)
  • One Prime Minister (Pearson) served in a non-Canadian military unit, the Royal Flying Corps (later RAF) during World War I

Two Prime Ministers have been Minister of Militia and Defence (Macdonald and Bowell) and one as Minister of National Defence (Campbell).