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MGen Brian Vernon CD (ret'd)
Major General Brian Vernon retired from the Canadian Forces in late 1996, having
served 39 years, regular and reserve, in the Infantry.
A native of Windsor Ontario, as is his wife Jill, he enlisted in the Army Reserve (The
Essex and Kent Scottish) in 1957 and was commissioned in 1963 whilst attending University.
After a brief stint as a systems analyst with Chrysler Corporation, he joined the regular army in
1965, serving with the Black Watch, the Canadian Airborne Regiment and the Princess Patricia’s
Canadian Light Infantry in Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and across Canada. Most of
his appointments were in field command and operational staff billets. He commanded the Second
Airborne Commando (350 troops), the Third Battalion of the PPCLI (700 troops), Base Calgary
(1200 troops and civilians), the First Mechanized Brigade Group (5,000 troops) and Land Forces
Central Area (14,000 regulars, reserves and civilians). The staff positions included being: an
operations officer at battalion, regimental and brigade levels; the first Brigade Major of the
Special Service Force; the Chief of Staff of our sole Division; and, then as Chief of Staff of
Mobile Command and then Land Forces Command.. His final year of service was at the National
Defence Headquarters in Ottawa - a posting which he classifies as penance for having had the
good fortune to have spent most of his career with soldiers, not paper.
General Vernon is a graduate of the usual schools: parachute, intelligence, the Army Staff
College (1970-71), language training, the Australian Jungle Warfare School, the UK Joint
Warfare School, the National Defence College (1984-5), and so forth. In addition, he was a
member of the Directing Staff at the Australian Army Command and Staff College during 1981-
83. In all, he spent three years on post-graduate studies and was assessed as being bilingual in
English and French.
Foreign assignments included duty with the Canadian brigade in Northern Germany and
with the ACE Mobile Force in Northern Norway. Service with the United Nations included two 6
month tours, the second as a battalion commander. An active parachutist for 30 years, he was the
senior serving paratrooper when he retired. He was involved in a steady stream of joint training
experiences with Allied forces, especially those from Britain and the United States, including
marine, armoured, parachute and special operations units.
The Vernon’s bought a retirement home in Comox (on Vancouver Island on Canada’s
Pacific coast), somewhat hastily, in 1991. More by good luck than sound management, that
choice has suited them very well indeed as they appreciate the locale, climate and people. Two
sons remain “on the mainland” in Calgary and Edmonton, whilst the third has recently moved to
Victoria BC after a five year teaching assignment at a Korean university. Retirement has proven
to be more fun than was anticipated, with enough consulting work and community volunteer
projects to keep mentally active and the mountains and the sea for more physically demanding
activities, such as Nordic skiing, kayaking and bicycling. Consulting projects have included
foreign affairs and defence commentaries on National TV and radio, emergency preparedness
training exercises and lectures on leadership, ethics and command. A prolific and somewhat
eclectic reader, his major interests are history and current affairs