The RCMI seeks to promote pride in a strong, unified and independent Canada by enhancing public understanding of political and military history, and regularly conducts educational conferences, seminars and open forums as well as preparing and publishing original papers, studies and journals.
The RCMI is supported by fees, donations, and the volunteer services of private members.
In 1890, 50 Officers of the Toronto Garrison founded the Royal Canadian Military Institute with the then Governor General of Canada, The Earl Grey, as its patron. Earl Grey laid the cornerstone of the existing premises in 1907.
The Institute's founding President, Lieutenant Colonel William Otter went on to become one of Canada's most distinguished military figures, ending his career as General Sir William Otter KCB CMG CVO, Inspector-General of Militia of Canada. Colonel Otter set the founding objectives of the Institute, to be "the Promotion and Fostering of Military Art, Science and Literature in Canada."