RMC Heritage

True stories, anecdotes and factoids about the history of the Canadian Services Colleges

The purpose of this feature is to catalogue and preserve interesting information about the Colleges and to serve as an authoritative reference.

Every article which appears in this space has been vetted by at least one authoritative and respected figure from RMC's past. Readers are invited to contact the webmaster, or Ed Murray who is the inaugural champion of stories for this archive, with any information relating to the stories, or with new stories, photos, recollections  or suggestions.

Stories we are working on:

  • College Flag
  • Commandant's House
  • Cadet Traditions: doubling the square, saluting the inner playing field, cadet uniform, swagger stick, swimming off the pier, etc.




Click on the picture links below for amazing details about RMC's history:

► RMC Club reference Book

When was the Royal Military College Club of Canada organized (according to a reference book compiled by Captain Ernest F Wurtele, then Club Secretary,)
a) 1874 b) 1884 c) 1894   d) 1904        e) 1914

Answer: b)
1884. The RMC Club reference book, which is now available
online, was originally pubished in 1892.   (By courtesy of eVeritas)

View the Reference book page by page by clicking on the link below.



► RMCC club TIE

Did you ever wonder how it started?  Click Here

Submitted by:  4459 Ed Murray


Our Old Brigade Adjutant has done some fine work in collecting the information surrounding the proliferation and variety of College numbers. Click Here

Submitted by:  5611 Gerry Stowe

► Roll Call - Origins and use at dinners

Murray has done soime research and is soliciting opinions on his findings. Click Here

Submitted by: H3550 Murray Johnston

The Origins of the College Motto and Cap Badge

Do you know when it was first worn? If not, click here to read this fascinating article.

Submitted by: #8057 Ross McKenzie, Curator RMC Museum

► RMC Virtual Museum - www.rmcvirtualmuseum.com

► 1897 - Ex-cadets blaze a Northwest trail to yukon gold

Since 1977, Kingston Branch member 3646 Fred Simpkin has been researching and compiling information on a NWMP patrol in 1897 from Edmonton to the Klondike.  The members of the patrol were an Inspector (his great grandfather) a constable, an experienced woodsman, a packer and two special constables who were to act as surveyors and mappers.  The special constables were very recent graduates of RMC – 347 Francis Delamere Lafferty, Class of 1896, and 375 Henry Seymour Tobin, Class of 1897. Their trek took 14 months from September 4, 1896 to October 1897.  They were trapped for the winter in the Rocky Mountain Trench, close to starvation on at least two occasions and given up for dead for several months. The official patrol report was available in the National Library. At the end of the patrol Tobin stayed in the NWMP in the Yukon, was called to the bar in the Yukon, Alberta and BC, led a Regiment known as "Tobin's Tibers" in WW I and died a successful industrialist in Vancouver.  Lafferty was posted to Ottawa to prepare maps of the patrol route.  He remained in the artillery, was Staff Adjutant at RMC from 1905 to 1908. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1919 and died a few days later of a heart attack. His son attributed his health issues to privations experienced on the patrol. While he was Staff Adjutant Lafferty dictated his memoire of the patrol. All references to the maps petered out in 1943.  By a series of serendipitous events, Fred found Lafferty's memoire in the Yukon archives and located a copy of the three map sheets prepared by him hanging in the RCMP Headquarters in Whitehorse. Fred was able to obtain high resolution photographs of the maps. He was always puzzled by the sending of two recent graduates of the College as mappers.  Fred has recently been informed by Dr. David Baird, who is writing a book on the teaching of Physics at RMC that RMC was turning out the best trained surveyors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

 Fred’s excellent work is presented here. He has skillfully woven researched material, family observations, photographs and Lafferty’s memoire (with permission of the Yukon Archives) into a story you won't put down till finished! The story of this long and arduous trek gives us an exciting insight to the spirit of the men of these times, and the hardships they encountered to achieve their goals. For this story in PDF format, Click here or on photos.      Full sized maps are available, too large to reproduce here.

Submitted by author 3646 Fred Simpkin, member of Kingston Branch


► the tale of the t-square

A new acquisition by the RMC Museum has given us an intriguing glimpse at the College’s past. During renovations of an old Kingston home a somewhat battered wooden T-Square came to light and, as it was clearly marked as having belonged to, “Gent Cadet Albert A. Vernon RMC 97-99”, the renovators thoughtfully passed it on to the College Museum. What makes this old wooden T-Square such a find is that Vernon used it as a diary. No 454 Albert A. Vernon, RMC 1897-1899, carefully recorded the noteworthy activities of his class over the period February-May 1899. (For full article click here or on photo)

ubmitted by author 8057 J. Ross Mckenzie, RMC Museum Curator


► canadian soldiers in africa

This article was written by Branch member Andrew Godefroy for Canadian military history that covers many of the grads that went on to serve in West Africa.  Much of the research information was available in sources at RMC archives and library.  (For full article click here)


Submitted by G1397 Major Andrew B. Godefroy, CD, MA, Ph.D.


► The College Coat of Arms

Submitted by RMC Museum Staff

Do you know why these two crests are different?

On 31 July 1920 His late Majesty King George V issued a special Warrant granting the use of Armorial Ensigns, “for the greater honour and distinction of [the] Royal Military College of Canada” and directed that they be recorded in the College of Arms. This Royal Warrant transcended the normal method of granting Armorial Ensigns (or Coats-of-Arms); as such things were normally left to the College itself to sort out in accordance with the established laws of heraldry.

  The design had originated with the College’s first Commandant, Colonel E.O. Hewett, and, from the earliest years, it was widely used as an unofficial symbol of RMC. Colonel Hewett and his senior officers also created the College motto, “Truth, Duty, Valour”. Having first decided on the words, “Truth” and “Duty”, they came to the conclusion that where there is Truth and Duty, Valour was sure to follow. (For full article, click here or on image)


► The Real Case of No. 943 William Avery Bishop

Submitted by author 8057 J. Ross Mckenzie, RMC Museum Curator

"This is an old article, written about 20 years ago when I had just started employment at the College as the Museum Curator and as a Liaison Officer. In the first two years of my civilian employment I actually had time to do museum work and time to research stuff like this

This was published in the cadet newspaper and individual copies were passed around and generated momentary interest. Extracts appear in Dave Bashshaw's pro-Bishop chapter in his book, "Knights of the Air." A copy went to the late Ben Greenhouse - a vociferous anti-Bishop historian- and he lifted some of the information and footnotes without any credit to me and used them in another of his books on Bishop

► From Gentleman Cadet to No Known Grave

Submitted by G1397 Major Andrew B. Godefroy, CD, MA, Ph.D.



 The RMC Museum was fortunate to receive a large collection of souvenirs, memorabilia and personal items which once belonged to 1271 Douglas W. Frederick who attended RMC  from August 1916 to November, 1917, was commissioned as a 2nd Lt., Royal Garrison Artillery  and served in England, France, Belgium and Italy as a communications officer with a heavy siege battery. Frederick survived the war, finished his education at McGill and worked in the financial sector in Canada and the USA and as active in the ex-cadet club, including a spell as President of the Hamilton Chapter. He died in 1975.

The collection was researched, catalogued and photographed and soon will be available on a national database to researchers interested in the period. Minimal restoration has been done to date. This work has been done principally by Branch members 8057 Ross McKenzie and 4976 Reg Watts. In the collection were 164 item groups. Some, such as the letter and postcard categories, contain hundreds of individual pieces.

 The main groupings are:

  • RMC memorabilia.

  • Letters to his parents and 4 small personal war diaries.

  • Letters and postcards between Douglas and his infantryman brother.

  • Service kit and sidearm.

  • Trench maps, bombardment plans, and aerial bombardment recon photos.

  • German army souvenirs.

  • Post-war civilian items, including RMC club items.

A fortunate find, and among the items, several pieces of RMC kit and memorabilia of which only photographs existed previously.  Following are three slideshows of Frederick’s RMC memorabilia:









Source: RMC Museum, DW Frederick Collection



Designed , built and tested in Navy Bay, the RMC Submarine was another  unique output of LCol Peter King

Source: Ed Murray et al      Authentication: RMC Records




The purpose and dedication of the arch, arch ceremonies and events.

Source: Ed Murray                 Authentication: Jack Pike, Charlie Simonds







RMC Branch has a unique asset in the number of senior ex-cadets in the area. Our goal here is to capture all of the stories behind their cadet and war experience, which can be shared with the public and by researchers. We record the interviews on videotape and on digital audio recorder, and our long-term aspiration is to encourage other RMC Club branches to do likewise.


The following short excerpts are from a series of interviews with senior Kingston Branch members. The purpose of this new heritage project is to preserve in audio and video format, the experiences of ex-cadets which may not be recorded elsewhere, and provide a database for future researchers and writers on College and cadet history. These archives will become a part of the RMC museum collection.

This project was originally conceived as an aural recording theme, and was rapidly expanded to include the video format. This first interview was planned and conducted by Ed Murray, audio and videotaped by Reg Watts who also edited and produced the DVD (1 hour 12 minutes) and the 8 minute excerpt show below. Bob Adams joined the team for later interviews.

A series of interviews are planned for 2011. Suggestions for interview subjects are welcomed.


Note Interviews are generally about 2 hours long. Samples below are 10 minute extracts.

Full Interviews are available from the RMC museum Curator



RMC Heritage Interview - 2816 BGen W. Turner




RMC Heritage Interview - H25917 Maj. Danny McLeod




RMC Heritage Interview - 2652 Col. Britton Smith





RMC Heritage Interview - H2612 BGen Mike Webber




Under this heading, we include stories about or from ex-cadets or cadet events that would not fit the class of "Historically Significant" as in the section preceding, or the category of humourous single-event deliberate "jokes" which fit the standard Colleges definition of a skylark, as collected in the section following.

►Volunteer 4th Year Boxer (Submitted by Dusty Miller)

   Click on me!


Furter & Miller Go Duck Hunting - October 1952 (Submitted by Dusty Miller)

Two notable events occurred at the college that year. I had never done any duck hunting and the Kingston area was under a major migratory route. A classmate, Bill Furter shared my enthusiasm and we agreed to a hunt. He had his own shotgun and I drew one from gunroom stores. It gets dark early in October so we made a plan to depart for Wolfe Island after classes. By four we had a canoe loaded with our guns and ammunition, donned our life jackets and set off for the Island....

For the rest of this story, click here!




A Skylark - "..plays tricks.." (Oxford dictionary) Thses stories are unauthenticated accounts of cadets to fool and/or embarras their seniors and the administration. The best skylarks were thought to be those which cause no harm or damage other than the above purpose. Some times they went astray.

Talk about a Skylark!

If you weren't with the Records Gang on March 4, you missed seeing this:

This toy cannon was made by 2191 A. Stuart Robb (RMC '34) in the mechanical engineering lab ~ 1933. As a lark he fired it down the hallway of Ft Lasalle. The resulting noise and alarm caused him to almost get thrown out of the college. Stu was one of two cadets to enter RMC from Nova Scotia in 1930. (Thanks for this article to Andrew Robb)


Currie Hall






Click to see the contents of the RMC museum at Fort Frederick