RMC opened 1 June 1876 at Kingston, Ontario. It stands on the site of significant historic events. Kingston had been established as a refugee settlement for United Empire Loyalists in 1783-84. Though Kingston was not ideal for a naval station, it was Upper Canada's major population centre and therefore was officially a logical choice.
The War of 1812 transformed the little town of Kingston. In 1813 the Royal Navy absorbed the small army naval establishment. Kingston was the key to Upper Canada and the presence of the Royal Navy on Lake Ontario ensured its successful defence. Dockyard facilities were improved and several stone buildings erected, including a stone warehouse known as the Stone Frigate, which still exists.
Before the establishment of RMC, Canadian officer cadets had to study in England. Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie supported the idea of setting up a Canadian military school when it was proposed by LCol Walker Powell, acting Adjutant-General of Militia in 1874. Powell suggested an institution that would provide a military and scientific education.
The government passed an Act to establish a military college and Kingston, with its military history, was selected as the college site. Some of the buildings of the Naval Dockyard were used for accommodation. The school was modelled after the United States Military Academy at West Point. It opened on June 1, 1876 with a class of 18 cadets. RMC received degree-granting status in 1959. The first graduate to receive his RMC degree was Desmond Morton, one of Canada's most widely read historians and contributor to The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Royal Naval College of Canada, authorized by the 1910 NAVAL SERVICE ACT, opened at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1911; as a result of the 1917 HALIFAX EXPLOSION it moved to RMC, then in 1918 to the former British dockyard at Esquimalt, BC. It closed June 1922, and for 20 years naval cadets attended Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, England. As a result of wartime expansion the new Royal Canadian Naval College, Royal Roads, opened near Esquimalt in 1942.
RRMC was established on land around the Esquimault Lagoon. In 1790 Sub-Lt Don Manuel Quimper anchored his ship in the roadstead and claimed the land for Carlos IV of Spain. (A roadstead is an area where ships can anchor safely near shore, though not as safely as in a harbour. "Roads" is a short form, hence Royal Roads.) There was a small settlement on the area; much of the property was sold to the British Navy in Esquimault Harbour. It was eventually purchased by Roland Stuart, who named the estate Hatley Park.
In 1907 James Dunsmuir, a Vancouver Island industrialist and president of E&N Railway, and Premier and later Lt Gov of BC, acquired the first 600 acres of the property. He added to it later. He built a $4 million house, called Hatley Castle. He commissioned beautiful and expansive gardens on the property, which remain. After Dunsmuir's death in 1920, his widow Laura continued to live at the castle. The Government of the Dominion of Canada bought Hatley Park for $75,000 in 1940, roughly the value of the fence surrounding the property. On December 13, HMCS Royal Roads was commissioned to train naval officers during WWII.
In 1942, the institution became the new Royal Canadian Naval College. In 1947 the college was renamed the RCN-RCAF Joint Services College, as air force and navy training were combined. In 1948 the name was changed again to Canadian Services College, Royal Roads, when it became a tri-service military college. Royal Roads, with a two-year program, was a feeder school for RMC's four-year program. The name was officially changed to Royal Roads Military College in 1968. It received degree-granting status in 1975. The first graduation of a fourth-year class was in 1977.
In 1952 CMR was established at St-Jean, Québec, primarily for French-speaking officer cadets. CMR was set up as a feeder school for RMC, with the purpose of increasing the number of francophones in the officer corps. It provided the opportunity to achieve higher rank to two under-represented groups - French Canadians and Atlantic Canadians. CMR received degree-granting status in 1971 (with UNIVERSITÉ DE SHERBROOKE). With the three military colleges came the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP). In response to the Cold War and NATO commitments, the Canadian government had authorized a large standing peacetime military force. Women were admitted to RMC post-graduate degree programs in 1978, and female cadets were enrolled in the Regular Officer Training Plan in September 1980.
After commissioning, an officer's professional development and education may include courses at other military educational institutions. Canadian Forces College (CFC) is a professional development institution. Officers are selected to attend CFC by National Defence Headquarters based on professional merit. Most promotions to LCol and Col (and Navy equivalents) depend on successful completion of CFC courses.
CFC was founded in 1943 at Armour Heights as the RCAF War Staff College. Its reorganization over the intervening years reflects the evolution of the professional development of Canadian military officers. In 1945 it became the RCAF Staff College and in 1962 a component of the Air Force College, which also included a Staff School and an Extension School. The latter operated in conjunction with the U of Toronto between 1963 and 1974. In 1966 a new course designed to meet the requirements of the unified force structure was introduced as part of the CFC's curriculum.
In 1974 the Staff College Course became the Command and Staff Course that exists now. The CFC's role expanded in 1998 to include advanced courses in military studies and national security. The Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, Kingston (opened as a Canadian Army Staff College during WWII), offers a tactics-oriented course for operational command and staff duties.
Author STEPHEN HARRIS
Links to Other Sites
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa is dedicated to the men and women who served with valour and distinction in Canada’s armed services. Their website features a virtual tour of the museum and multimedia online exhibits that depict how Canada met and overcame wartime challenges throughout its history.
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Royal Military College of Canada
The official web site of the Royal Military College of Canada.
Canadian Naval Centennial
A great source for information about celebrating the Canadian Naval Centennial. Check the menu on the left for event updates and historical notes about Canadian naval history. Click on "This Day in Canadian Naval History" for more. From the Department of National Defence.
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
This association represents colleges and institutes to government, business and industry. Extensive online resources, including full text journal articles.
Conference of Defence Associations
The website for the Conference of Defence Associations, a prominent advocacy group within Canada’s defence community. Check the menu on the left side of the page for links to policy papers and videos about various national and international security issues.
In honour of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the Archives of Ontario presents this stirring retrospective of Ontario’s extraordinary Home Front contribution to the war effort. Check out the personal stories, photographs, posters, video clips and other multimedia.
Canadian Military History Gateway
Search this website for authoritative information about Canadian military history. Provides links to websites for Canadian museums, libraries, archives, and other heritage organizations. Also features an online glossary of military terminology, educational resources and much more. From the Department of National Defence.
Canadian Military Journal
The online edition of the "Canadian Military Journal." Many articles about contemporary military issues, compelling history features, book reviews, and much more.
Canadian Forces College
The Canadian Forces College provides professional military education for selected members of the Defence Team for the command and control of the Canadian Forces, across the continuum of operations in joint, interagency, multinational and public environments. Check out the "Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs."
Canada’s military is getting a new name — again
A news story about the federal government's decision to change the name of the Canadian military to it's former moniker "Canadian Armed Forces." From the National Post.
Royal Military College Saint-Jean
The official website for Royal Military College Saint-Jean, Department of National Defence.