In April 1947, the Defence Research Board (DRB), established by an amendment of the National Defence Act of 1927, assumed full legal status and authority bringing together various research and development establishments created in Canada between World War I and World War II.
The Board’s terms of reference required the provision of scientific advice to the Minister of National Defence, meeting the research requirements of the Canadian Forces (CF), contributing to the collective defence of Canada’s allies and supporting research of defence interest with industry and universities.
When formed, the DRB included seven research laboratories. The National Research Centre (NRC), established in 1916, which conducted most war-time activities, would later divest its programs to the new organization. Over the next 25 years the DRB would see many organizational changes and amalgamations to its laboratories.
In the late 60s, the Defence Research Telecommunication Establishment, that included the Radio Physics Laboratory, later the Communications Research Centre (CRC), became independent from the DRB, but maintains until today an ongoing Communications R&D program serving the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CF.
In 1974, the laboratories of the DRB were integrated to DND through the formation of the DRB to forge closer relationships between scientists and the military. The new branch was led by the Chief of Research and Development (CRAD), within the Associate Deputy Minister (Materiel) group.
In 2000, DRB officially changed to Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), a Special Operating Agency within DND.
As Canada’s leader in defence and national security, DRDC maintains a broad scientific program and actively collaborates with industry, international allies, academia, other government departments and the national security community.
The creation of the DRB unifies various defence science laboratories which had previously existed autonomously:
- Associate Committee on Aviation Medical Research: 1939 – present (DRDC Toronto);
- Defence Research Chemical Laboratories: 1941 – present (DRDC Ottawa);
- Suffield Experimental Station: 1941 – present (DRDC Suffield);
- Defence Research Kingston Laboratory: 1942 – 1964 (closed, programs transferred to Ottawa);
- Defence Research Establishment Atlantic: 1944 – present (DRDC Atlantic);
- Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment: 1945 – present (DRDC Valcartier);
- Defence Research Northern Laboratory: 1947 – 1965 (closed, programs moved to National Research Council in the 1950s);
- Radio Physics Laboratory: 1947 – present (the Communications Research Centre)
A new lab is added to the DRB family when the Pacific Naval Laboratory is opened to carry out oceanographic studies and provide scientific services to the West Coast fleet.
Operational Research Group (present DRDC CORA) is formed at the DRB.
Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment is formed in Ottawa by uniting the Radio Physics Laboratory and the Electronics Laboratory.
Defence Research Medical Laboratory is formed, later to be amalgamated into Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine.
Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment is transferred to the Department of Communications as the CRC which retained, on behalf of DND, responsibility for research in radar and defence communications.
Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, ancestor of DRDC Toronto, is formed by the amalgamation of Defence Research Establishment Toronto and the CF Institute of Environmental Medicine.
DRB is no longer. The Defence Research and Development (R&D) Branch, under the CRAD, is formed with responsibilities for both research and development, including the operation of six former DRB laboratories.
Defence Research Establishment Pacific closes and consolidates with Defence Research Establishment Atlantic, leaving a small detachment to provide services to the West Coast fleet.
DRB officially changes to Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), a Special Operating Agency within DND, led by the Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology), who is also the Chief Executive Officer of DRDC. Five research and development centres assumed their present-day names: DRDC Atlantic; DRDC Valcartier; DRDC Toronto; DRDC Ottawa; and DRDC Suffield.
Operational Research and Development, now DRDC CORA, joins DRDC as the sixth centre. This centre delivers options, recommendations and potential outcomes to key decision makers using a variety of tools and methodologies.
The DRDC Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) was created as a joint endeavour between DRDC and Public Safety Canada to deliver S&T services and support to address national public safety and security objectives. The centre manages the Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI), the Public Security Technical Program (PSTP) and the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC).
Responding to the research needs of both the Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology) and the Chief of Military Personnel within DND, Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis (DGMPRA) joins DRDC to conduct strategic and operational research in the areas of personnel generation, personnel and family support and operational and organizational dynamics.