National Defence and the Canadian Forces

4 Cdn Division
4th Canadian Division

31 Canadian Brigade Group

Operation Yellow Ribbon

Who are we

Read our 2016 Unit Update ....

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry – is the oldest combat infantry regiment in the Hamilton-Burlington area and the only one with a presence in both cities. The infantry’s role is the most complex and demanding of all combat roles and the light infantry role is the most demanding within the infantry. With continuous heritage stretching back to 1862, no other unit in Hamilton and Burlington comes close to matching the history, combat record and community presence of “the Rileys”.

  • Our first combat action was right here against Fenian raiders in Niagara in 1866, and continued in South Africa, through two world wars and Korea, on NATO service in Germany, humanitarian operations in Haiti, on armed operations with the United Nations, NATO and Coalition forces in Cyprus, the Balkans, the Golan Heights, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Afghanistan.
  • The Rileys have been awarded 44 Battle Honours, including Afghanistan, and two Victoria Crosses.
  • Rileys have served long and honourably in the most difficult of professions and emerged on top.
  • We are Rileys.

Light infantry are

“… a force optimized for military operations in complex environments, rapidly deployable through a variety of means, yet not tied to any one platform.”

This means we are able to assault and take objectives using skill, training, guts and innovation. But more than that – the light infantry role builds confidence, reinforces fitness, demands commitment and instills a sense of pride and mission that nothing else can give. You are a Riley.

As light infantry, we are capable of a strong range of combat operations:

  • Cross-country infantry assaults against an entrenched enemy
  • Missions with helicopters, armoured vehicles, artillery, mortars, anti-tank weapons and assault boats to accomplish full-spectrum combat operations
  • Calling down artillery fire on opposing forces
  • Night time reconnaissance (recce) across complex terrain undetected to the enemy’s own lines
  • Deep penetration air-mobile operations
  • Patrolling urban environments collecting intelligence, looking for insurgents and providing protection to local citizens
  • High-north sovereignty patrols asserting Canadian dominance of the Arctic
  • Over-water stealth operations using inflatable recce boats
  • Live-ammunition training on large-scale ranges for anti-armour weapons, the 60-mm mortar, heavy, medium and light machine guns, pistols, and above all the C-7 service rifle, the basic tool of the infantry.

All of this is part of the RHLI skill-set.

This isn’t just “what if” stuff.

The skills our soldiers have ingrained through intense training have been put to good use in defence of others in numerous and very real foreign missions. In the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, operating in harsh conditions, Rileys came under fire while on operations which stretched their ingenuity and capabilities to the utmost. In Afghanistan, "Rileys" operated in complex terrain, moving through ancient and twisting village streets, large urban areas and mountainous, rugged land at high altitude while facing rocket, mortar and machinegun fire on their camps and patrols.

In Sierra Leone, operations based in heavy jungle included training and supporting national forces to renew their capabilities in the face of determined insurgent operations.

In South Sudan, operating under extremely harsh conditions, we have overseen the emergence of a new nation.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Riley experienced full combat operations while acting as a liaison officer between the UN and the DRC army in the field against M23 rebel forces and was present at their final defeat.

In Canada, Rileys have rescued citizens of eastern Ontario communities frozen in the grip of a tremendous ice storm, bringing order from chaos and aid to thousands. We have built dikes to roll back the raging Red River in Manitoba. We have asserted Canadian sovereignty by patrolling on the rolling ice of the Arctic Ocean in -50 weather in February. We were on stand-by at the "Y2K" Millennium change-over in the event of large-scale computer-centred problems. We take part in community events including food delivery for the disadvantaged, toy collections so deserving children have something Christmas morning, and marathons to help hospitals.

To keep this fine edge, we train continuously in Canada and internationally. Florida, Texas, Kentucky and Vermont are on the RHLI checklist. The huge Canadian Forces Base at Petawawa, ON receives regular visits where the RHLI train with thousands of other Reserve soldiers in massive exercises covering all aspects of modern warfare. Closer to home, the 4th Canadian Division training area near Meaford on Georgian Bay allows more frequent opportunities to learn and use a broad ranges of skills from basic weapons training to advanced tactics in foreign-style urban-operation settings. In addition, periodic exercises are held on public and private property (with permission!) on lands in the Hamilton-Burlington area.

The RHLI now part of the 4th Canadian Division within the Canadian Army - are training for "next-generation" full-spectrum military capability which allows our soldiers to take part in anything from humanitarian relief operations to full combat. Using the modern and flexible Task Force concept now employed in places like Afghanistan, we spearheaded the first Task Force in 31 Canadian Brigade Group the army in south-western Ontario.

Day and night, on foot or in the air, rain, sun or snow, in the high Arctic, in mountains, jungle or desert, the RHLI are doing it all!


Under the Official Languages Act, the information on this website is intended for a specific audience within a defined geographic area. All content appears in English only. You will find general information in both official languages on the DND/CF main site.

Aux termes de la Loi sur les langues officielles, l'information publiée sur ce site est destinée à une clientèle précise, dans une région géographique déterminée, et n'est affichée qu'en anglais. Vous trouverez des renseignements généraux sur le site du MDN/des FC dans les deux langues officielles.