Chief Keeper's Gate Insignia

This patch is one of the more interesting pieces of insignia used in the federal penitentiary service in Canada.  The royal blue rectangular crest depicts a Gothic-style double-gate with bars in the upper portion of the arch, surrounded by a brick wall with loop holes to either side of the gate.  The device was used to designate the rank of the wearer.  This version is mounted on a slightly larger piece of red felt in order to designate the wearer as the “Chief Keeper” of the institution.

Based upon archival evidence, this crest was part of the redesign of federal penitentiary insignia that took place in 1933.  For a time prior to that date, the penitentiary service employed the exact same insignia devices as the military in order to designate rank (i.e. Various combinations of metal “pips”, or stars, and crowns on epaulettes and collars.)  Due to complaints received from military authorities claiming that the similarities were causing confusion, Minister of Justice Hugh Guthrie authorized a completely new system of insignia for penitentiaries.

It was to be worn on both sleeves of tunics and overcoats. According to circular 139/1934 – effective Sept. 1, 1934 both Senior Keepers and Keepers were to wear it below the elbow, while the new ranks of “Senior Warders” and “Warders” were to wear it above the elbow. The new rank of “Warder” was to be junior to “Keepers” but senior to “Guards”.  An important distinction is that when issued to the one “Senior (or Chief) Keeper” and “Senior Warder” it was mounted on a red flannel backing creating a 5mm border.

It was discontinued when the khaki green uniform was changed to a civilian-style, blue uniform in 1963-64.

Item Chief Keeper’s Gate Insignia
Dimensions 6.5cm x 5.5cm
Material Worsted; felt; cotton
Period Made 1933 – 1963
Period of Use 1933 – 1963
Maker Unknown