What is “Colonel-Maître”?


Colonel-Maître® Michel W. Drapeau

In Canada, after an officer leaves the military, they are prevented from using their rank – unless it is followed by the word “retired” both in correspondence and socially. [Art. 3.13 of the QR&Os refers] This is opposite of the American experience, retirement does not strip a member the ability to showcase their pride in service to their country. A rank is earned, after all whether in retirement or otherwise engaged in a follow-on career.

I served in the rank of lieutenant-colonel from 1977 to 1984 and in the rank of colonel from 1984 to 1993 for a total of 16 years; hence, I spent almost half my 34-year military career as a ‘Colonel’.

Not being ‘retired” and being still active in the workplace,I find it sad that I am prevented from publicly pronouncing my pride of service unless I present myself as being ‘retired”.

It is for this reason that I have registered the trademark Colonel-Maître®.  [See: Colonel-Maitre registration.] The title enables me to showcase my continued commitment to the values and ethos that guided my military career, even following my honourable release from the military. These values include ethics, leadership and commitment to betterment. They also include professionalism, stewardship, fairness, respect for the dignity, safety and wellbeing of others.

DSC_0034The term “Maitre” is a French title used to denote persons who practice law, such as legal counsel, lawyers or notaries.  Being of Francophone descent, I am familiar with the meaning of the word Maître . In 2002 I was called to the Ontario Bar, and continue to serve as an advocate for members of our Armed Forces, to help them seek justice when the system has failed them.  So I naturally adopted the term Maître within my law practice.

Aside from the legal and practical aspects of the trademark registration, this combination of words is highly significant because it incarnates the symbiotic relationship and synergy between the military and the legal professions, giving our law office the special distinction and unique expertise to look after the legal rights of our growing military clientele. Above all, it is symbolic of our special blend of experience of the Canadian military culture and legal advice tailored expressly to the complexities of the defence environment.

Anyone who holds the distinct attributes of being a retired or serving Colonel, and practicing in law who wishes to use the term ‘Colonel- Maître’ is encouraged to write me outlining their credentials. I would be pleased to consider any applications for permission to use this esteemed moniker.

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