Royal Roads Military College

Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) was a Canadian military college (1940 to 1995) located in Hatley Park, Colwood, British Columbia near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The facility is currently being used as the campus for Royal Roads University, a public university that offers applied and professional academic programs. The centrepiece of the campus is Hatley Castle, constructed in the early part of the 20th century by B.C. coal baron James Dunsmuir for his wife, Laura. The house had been purchased as a wartime residence for the King, Queen, and their daughters.

The gentlemen cadets of RRMC were not only required to excel in their respective academic fields, but to achieve the standard in the three other components as well, the Second Language Training component, Physical Fitness component and the Military component. Failure in any of these four components resulted in the officer cadet not being awarded the coveted RRMC degree.

In February 1994, after the end of the Cold War and under the pressure of massive spending cuts from the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence announced that it was would be closing Royal Roads Military College, along with the Le Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean (CMR) in St-Jean Sur Richelieu. CMR however was retained as an educational institution for lady and gentlemen cadets, as a preparatory college for certain cadets before proceeding to the Royal Military College Kingston. The final class graduated in May 1995.

Hatley Park and former Royal Roads Military College was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995 to commemorate the Dunsmuir family (1908-1937) and RRMC (1940-1995). The site was plaqued in 2000 as a Canadian example of an Edwardian park, with gardens, which remains practically intact. HMCS Royal Roads is a Canadian naval training centre commissioned on 13 December 1940. This was the first of a series of related institutions to be set up by the Department of National Defence at Hatley Park in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

Designed to support Canada's naval war effort, it was operated as an Officer Training Establishment until October 1942. Many of the 600 volunteer reserve officers who underwent training during this time served in the Battle of the Atlantic. The HMCS Royal Roads was used to train short-term probationary Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) sub-lieutenants to serve in World War II.

The name Royal Roads was drawn from geography. The name refers to an anchorage located in Juan de Fuca Strait between the city of Victoria, British Columbia and Albert Bay. The HMCS Royal Roads was located on a property originally purchased by James Dunsmuir in 1902. Dunsmuir was a former British Columbian Premier and Lieutenant-Governor. The Hatley Park Estate originally comprised 650 acres. The Dunsmuir family added Hatley Castle, which was completed in 1908. The Canadian Department of National Defence purchased Hatley Park, almost in its entirety, in 1940, for $75,000. This sum was roughly the value of the fence surrounding the property.

As Executive Officer, Commander Reginald Amand (Jumbo) Webber D.S.C., C.D. served there till late 1942. On June 21, 1995, after negotiations with the Department of National Defence and the Government of British Columbia, the British Columbia government passed the Royal Roads University Act, creating Royal Roads University. The campus is currently leased from the federal government under a $1, 50-year lease agreement with Royal Roads University which was announced in 2001. The Department of National Defence leases approximately 55 hectares of land for the campus to Royal Roads University, and has entered into a five-year Renewable Management Agreement with the University for the maintenance of the remaining 175 hectares of property owned by the Department of National Defence.

Notable historical milestones

Year Significance
1921 The Canadian Government purchased the land for Royal Roads to reestablish the Naval college

  • The Naval Training Establishment at Royal Roads was changed and commissioned to HMCS Royal Roads.
  • Auxiliary buildings on the Hatley estate such as the Mews stables and garage were converted into classroom space.
  • A new building called the Grant Building located behind Hatley Castle was built in order to provide a mess hall and dormitories, as well as classrooms and laboratories.

1942 The Royal Canadian Naval College was established to train marine and naval officers.
1946 The Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force College offered the first two years of university-level programs to Royal Canadian Air Force and Navy officers
1947 The Canadian Services College Royal Roads offered the first two years of university- level programs to army, navy and air force officers.
1950 The Old Brigade, alumni celebrating 50 + years since they entered one of the military colleges, are inducted.
1956 Red tunics reintroduced
1968 Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) offered the first two years of university-level programs to Royal Canadian Air Force and Navy officers.
1975 The Royal Roads Military College Degrees Act was passed by the Government of British Columbia, allowing the Royal Roads Military College to grant degrees.
1984 The first female cadet enrolled at RRMC creating a slight shift culturally in the Canadian Military Colleges, as well as in the CF as a whole.


Building Year Significance
Hatley Castle 1908 administrative centre of Royal Roads University. From 1941 until 1943 when Grant Block was completed, the Castle served as dormitory and mess hall for cadets and staff officers at RRMC. Registry of Historic Places of Canada
Mews Conference Centre 1912 James Dunsmuir's stables and garage later converted to classrooms, dormitory, social centre and conference centre. Registry of Historic Places of Canada
Cedar Building 1900s The original Tudor-style dairy and cattle barns were converted into laboratories and classrooms for physics and oceanography. The building was refurbished in 1998 into research and computer laboratories
Arbutus Building academic classrooms, administrative offices, a computer lab, and a canteen
Gate House (or White House) an administrative centre
Millward Wing (of the Nixon Building) 1991 Offices, dormitories, named for former Commandant Air Vice Marshall James Bert Millward DFC (Bar), GdG(F), CD, RCAF 1949-52 the 4th Commandant of RRMC.
Nixon Building 1991 classrooms, dormitories named after the former Commanding Officer Nixon of the Royal Naval College of Canada, when it was re-established in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1918. *Registry of Historic Places of Canada
Grant Building 1943 main academic building, laboratories, cafeteria, and offices named for first Commanding Officer of HMCS Royal Roads, Captain John Moreau Grant. The building was recently renovated. Registry of Historic Places of Canada
Boat House 1989 boat house
Swimming pool 1959 two-storey, white concrete building composed of horizontal cubic volumes Registry of Historic Places of Canada
dock 1990 dock
sports complex 1942 - 1957 gymnasium, weight room, fitness studio, squash courts, outdoor tennis courts *Registry of Historic Places of Canada

Royal Roads Military College Museum

Hatley Castle is home to the Royal Roads Military College Museum.

The museum is located in Hatley Castle, on the campus of the Royal Roads University and former campus of the Royal Roads Military College of Canada. The Museum mandate is to collect, conserve, research and display material relating to the history of the Royal Roads Military College, its former cadets and its site.

The Royal Roads Military College Museum is a member of the Canadian Museums Association and the Organization of Military Museums of Canada Inc. The Royal Roads Museum is an accredited museum within the Canadian Forces Museum System. The museum has formed a cooperating association of friends of the museum to assist with projects.

Theses Canada

Theses Canada acquires and preserves a comprehensive collection of Canadian theses at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) through partnership with Canadian universities who participate in the program including: Royal Military College Masters 1984- and Royal Roads Military College Masters 1990-1995. All theses in Library and Archives Canada's collection are available on interlibrary loan.


Tradition Significance
blanket toss blanket toss of senior class members after the last waltz at the Graduation Ball
ceremonial mace Symbolizes the authority of the college, as granted in the name of the Sovereign (currently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II). When carried into the ceremony and placed on stage, the mace signals the opening of the convocation.
'change of command ceremony' The former commandant offers farewell and best wishes to the college and to the new Commandant. The new commandant accepts a first salute as the cadet wing marches past.
college Toast (honor) RRMC club toast to absent comrades meaning those who have fallen in action or who had died
colours After the last parade of RRMC in spring 1995, the Colours were deposited into the care of Christ Church Cathedral in - Feux de Joie an [[honour guard perform a rifle salute with field artillery, or more commonly, rifles using blank ammunition.
Ghost Stories B.C. Society of Paranormal Investigation and Research into the Supernatural have investigates stories of paranormal activity in and around Hatley Castle
Graduation and Commissioning Parade in honour of graduating cadets:

Jacket exchange RRMC Director of Cadets exchanges tunics with I Year Officer Cadet at RRMC Christmas Dinner.
Just Passing By When a graduate of the RRMC pilots an aircraft in the vicinity of Victoria, British Columbia he or she conducts an impromptu airshow over the College.
March Hatley Park; Going Home
obstacle course race gruelling course for recruits set up by the cadets' immediate predecessors
Old Brigade Alumni who entered military college 50+ years before wear unique berets and ties, have the Right of the Line on reunion weekend memorial parades, and present the College cap badge to the First Year cadets on the First Year Badging Parade. Each class traditionally marks its 50-year anniversary and entry into the Old Brigade with a gift.

  • annual class practical joke or prank
  • Apples were taken from the Commandant’s trees at 2am and bring the apples back to the doors of popular seniors.
  • A whaler was taken to dockyard and the Navy Dockyard flag was liberated and run up the RRMC mast.
  • A dingy was strung up the mast in front of the Castle and left there.
  • A cow was chained to the top of Neptune stairs where the Director of Cadets held his morning parade.
  • The Cadet Wing Commander had the 1st year cadets muster in the common rooms while 2nd years took their rooms apart, moved their mattresses out and ran their sheets from building to building. The cadets scrambled back to their rooms to prepare for an inspection of their rooms to find no beds.
  • During 100 days to grad parties, 4th years were not allowed to sleep in their dorm. Instead, the 3rd years took their beds and moved them around the college. Cadets might find their bed - up a tree or in a hall. The DCadet found a cadet's bed in the DCadets residence and another in the yard.

sweetheart broach officer cadets gave their dates an enamel brooch in lieu of a corsage for formal dances at Christmas, and Graduation.
white peacock Blue Indian peafowl have lived free on the college grounds since the 1960s. Albert, a rare white peacock resident since RRMC days, died in 2003.


# Name Year Significance
Group Commander Avant DSO, DFC, CD, RCAF 1960-63 8th Commandant, RRMC
7264 Colonel Ross K Betts CD CF (RMC 1967) 1987-89 17th Commandant, RRMC
9318 Captain(N) (ret`d) David B Bindernagel CD (RRMC RMC 1972) 1994-1995 10th Commandant, RRMC
8241 Lieutenant-General (ret`d) Vaughan Michael Caines, A de C, CF (CMR/RMC 1970) CMM, CD 1991-94 19th Commandant, RRMC; Chair of the DND/CF Ombudsman Advisory Committee
2444 Captain John A. Charles, CMM, CD RCN (RMC 1935) 1954-1957 6th Commandant, RRMC
Colonel Cooper OBE, CD, L Edmin R 1957-60 7th Commandant, RRMC
Captain Creery, CBE, CD, RCN 1946-48 2nd Commandant, RRMC
Capt(N) Draper CD CF 1983-84 15th Commandant, RRMC
6440 Captain(N) Tony AJ Goode CD CF ((Royal Military College Saint-Jean/RMC 1965) 1984-87 16th Commandant, RRMC
Captain Creery CBE, CD RCN 1946-48 2nd Commandant, RRMC
2576 Captain William P Hayes CD, RCN(RMC 1937) 1963-65 9th Commandant, RRMC
Captain John Moreau Grant, CBE 1940-42, 42-46 First Commanding Officer of HMCS Royal Roads, Grant Building was named in his honour.
RRA18 Colonel Kenneth E. Lewis CMM, CD CF (RRMC ‘47) 1968-70 11th Commandant, RRMC
3912 Colonel George L. Logan CD CF (RHC)(RRMC/RMC ‘57) 1979-83 14th Commandant, RRMC
Air Vice Marshall James Bert Millward DFC (Bar), GdG(F), CD, RCAF 1949-52 4th Commandant, RRMC
8335 Colonel Claude JEC Naud CD A de C. CF (CMR/RMC 1970) 1989-91 18th Commandant, RRMC
Capt(N) Peers CD CF 1979076 12th Commandant, RRMC
Captain Rayner, DSC, CD, RCN 1948-49 3rd Commandant, RRMC
Colonel Roddick CD, Canadian Forces}CF 1976-79 13th Commandant, RRMC
2253 Major General Cameron Bethel Ware DSO, CD, PPCLI (RMC 1931) 1952-54 5th Commandant, RRMC
Group Captain Wurtele, CD, RCAF 1965-68 10th Commandant, RRMC


Name Year
Commander Ketchum 1942-45
Captain Ogle 1945-51
Professor Brown 1951-55
Professor Cook 1955-61
Professor Graham 1961-84
3237 Doctor John J.S. Mothersill (RMC 1954) 1984-95

Notable alumni of the Royal Roads Military College

Royal Roads Military College is prestigious and has had many notable alumni (Shown with college numbers).

# Name Grad Significance
14008 Mr Alan Cumyn RRMC 1983 Canadian novelist
3528 General (Ret) Paul David Manson O.C., CMM, CD, B.Sc., D.M.S. RRMC 1956 military leader, business executive and volunteer; former Chief of Defence Staff
7344 Robert Brown RRMC RMC 1967 Businessperson, philanthropist
13738 Colonel (Ret'd) Chris Hadfield RRMC/RMC 1982 Astronaut


# Name Quote
Mr. Kasper, 3rd Session, 35th Parliament, Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

  • "Be it resolved that this House strongly condemn the Government of Canada's unfair decision to close five defence installations in British Columbia, including the Royal Roads Military College, resulting in the elimination of nearly 900 civilian and military jobs; and be it further resolved that this House, noting the reputation of academic excellence offered at the Royal Roads Military College during its fifty-five year history, and in light of the recent $20 million upgrade, urge the Government of Canada to re-examine the utility of closing the only military college in Western Canada, affecting 230 civilian and military jobs."


The campus of Royal Roads was used as:

  • the Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the "X-Men" movies.
  • the Luthor Mansion, the estate belonging to Lex Luthor in TV series "Smallville".
  • the Shady Glen School in the 1997 movie, Masterminds
  • the hideout in "MacGyver", season 5, "The Legend of the Holy Rose, part 2"
  • the home for royal family in TV series "Seven Days", episode 9, season 2 "Love and Other Disasters"


  • Peter J.S. Dunnett “Royal Roads Military College 1940-1990, A Pictorial Retrospective” (Royal Roads Military College, Victoria, BC 1990)
  • 4237 Preston, Dr. Adrian & Peter Dennis (Edited) Swords and Covenants. Rowman And Littlefield, London. Croom Helm. 1976.
  • H16511 Preston, Dr. Richard A. Canada's Royal Military College: A History of the Royal Military College, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1969.
  • H1877 Smith, R. Guy C. (editor) As You Were! Ex-Cadets Remember. In 2 Volumes. Volume I: 1876-1918. Volume II: 1919-1984. Royal Military College. [Kingston]. The R.M.C. Club of Canada. 1984
  • To Serve Canada: A History of the Royal Military College since the Second World War, Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 1991.
  • 4669 Roht, Toivo (CMR RMC 1960) "Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, Royal Roads Military College and Royal Military College 1955-2006" 2007
  • Maurice Robinson, Bev Hall, Paul Price 'Royal Roads : a celebration' Natural Light Productions, Victoria, B.C., 1995.

See also


External links

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