ᐱᒋᐊᕐᓂᕆᓯᒪᔭᖏᑦ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᐅᓇᑕᖅᑐᒃᓴᐃᑦ,

Today’s Canadian Rangers had their beginnings in World War II. When a lighthouse on British Columbia’s coast was attacked by a Japanese submarine, it drew attention to the vulnerability of the sparsely populated coast.

The Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR) were officially formed on March 3, 1942. Their role was to provide military surveillance, conduct patrols, put in place anti-sabotage measures, protect communication and transportation lines and provide defense of British Columbia’s and the Yukon’s coast against possible Japanese invasion. And they served their role well - providing important operational intelligence to the military -like sighting Japanese bomb-carrying balloons in 1944 and 45.

The Rangers were all volunteers, largely loggers, trappers, prospectors and ranchers. But most anyone willing to give their time - from teenagers to retirees were accepted in their ranks. Although ethnicities weren’t recorded, given the region’s demographics, a high proportion of Rangers were Aboriginal peoples. The men were given some formal training in the larger towns, but many of the remotely located men received little or no formal instruction. To fill the gap, a training publication titled "The Ranger" was created on September 1, 1942. This magazine was chock full of useful information for Rangers like "Know where to shoot", "Edible plants of BC", and "What can you do with a tarp?"

The PCMR's early months were treated informally by the military – the men received little to no supplies, no appropriate clothing or weaponry. But things changed after the first Japanese Incendiary Balloons reached the West Coast. Within weeks the Rangers received steel helmets, uniforms and .303 rifles. Although the PCMR never engaged the enemy, they had an important role in giving rural coastal communities a sense of security. They also helped give those unable to go oversees have a role in the wartime effort.

At their height, the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers was made up of 15,000 volunteers in 138 companies. The Pacific Coast Militia Rangers were officially stood down on September 30, 1945. At the ceremony, Major General F.F. Worthington noted that, "the citizens of this country owe you a great debt of gratitude for the services you have rendered in the defence of their homes."

Learn more about the Canadian Rangers Today.