Copper Sunday – Perspective from a II Year Cadet
RMCC Celebrates Cadet Traditions from the 1800’s with Copper Sunday Parade!
By: 26659 OCdt (II) Danielle Andela – E-Veritas Correspondent | Correspondant d’E-Veritas
During the 1880’s, it became a tradition for cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada to toss handfuls of pennies into the donation bowls at the mandatory Sunday church parades. The custom was a boisterous expression of the cadets’ contributions to the church community and evolved throughout the years to include carrying pennies in the military issue black socks, and inevitably, evolved into the Copper Sunday parade. This entertaining parade saw the entire cadet wing march down from RMC, across the LaSalle causeway and all the way to the front of City Hall.
The cadet wing commander then knocked on the front door of City Hall and Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen answered and took several minutes to address the parade and the customs that Copper Sunday originates from. After a short address by Commandant of RMCC, Brigadier-General Al Meinzinger, the parade was dismissed and the officer and naval cadets of RMC spread into the town to have breakfast, attend church services and mingle with the rest of the Kingston population.
The Royal Military College of Canada has strong ties to Kingston both historically and currently as the college supports local causes such as Kingston food banks and cleaning local parks. Copper Sunday is yet another opportunity for the students of RMC to get off the peninsula and enjoy time with other members of the community.
Copper Sunday: Time to Change the Name
Sunday morning (4 May) was a wet and cool one in Kingston.
Those cadets who were not assigned to attend the Battle of Atlantic ceremony later in the morning, formed-up at 0730. They marched off sharply around 0835 and headed to Kingston, City Hall. On arrival at City Hall, approx. 0900, they were welcomed by His Worship Mayor Mark Gerretsen, and the RMCC commandant, BGen Al Meinzinger.
Following the expected friendly exchange between the Mayor and the commandant, BGen Gen Meinzinger had this message to those standing on parade. “Your commitment to the great city of Kingston clearly demonstrates what fine leaders you are becoming and I am confident that you will carry-on in this tradition in your future communities as you depart to serve in locations across this great country.”
Cadets on the parade who had been experiencing the elements for the past hour and a half seemed to appreciate the fact that the speeches were short.
In a tradition dating to 1882, Officer Cadets attended various Kingston churches on the last Sunday of the academic year. For 132 years it has been designated Copper Sunday.
While the RMC Chain of Command did not influence cadets toward any particular religion, one of the goals was to expose the cadets to the typical processes and procedures of religious ceremony, should they have need to carry out Assisting Officer duties in the future. The name comes from the custom of cadets gathering their pennies for collection into the offering plate.
No longer is it the case that cadets automatically attend a local church of their choice – although a fair number appeared to do so this time.
We understand that military members cannot be compelled to participate in religious observances except for Remembrance Day, Battle of the Atlantic Sunday, Battle of Britain Sunday or military funerals. The Canadian Forces drill manual has also been amended following a court decision a few years ago. In short, Charter right to freedom of religion trumps RMC tradition.
So once the formal ceremony concluded and the cadets received the Fall Out order – they dispersed around town dropping into local restaurants mainly – because of the time of day and the weather. They were told to mingle with town folks and not return to the college grounds before 1100.
The commandant and his escort party managed a quick visit into St George’s, St Andrew’s and St Mark’s churches and had this to say. “It is interesting to note that Billy Bishop has his name and College number scratched into one of the pews in St Andrew’s Church.” The 1989 RMC graduate and first year commandant added: “It was such an honour to see our College Colours displayed in St George’s and St Mark’s along with a beautiful stain glass window of RMCC in St Andrew’s.”
It is not the intent with this article to offer any comment on this current practise but it may be time that the last Sunday of the academic year be named something other than Copper Sunday.
For more Copper Sunday photos go here
RMC Naval Cadets & RCN Staff Celebrate 71st anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic
By: 26816 NCDT (II) Avery Burke
Naval Cadets from RMCC as well as personnel from HMCS Cataraqui and the Kingston branch of Sea Cadets celebrated the 71st anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic on May 4th with a parade at the Kingston naval memorial.
The yearly event held on the first Sunday in May commemorates the sacrifices made during the longest continuous battle in the Second World War. Lasting 6 years, and covering thousands of kilometres of ocean it has been described as “the dominating factor” during the war.
Canada’s sizable contribution involved members of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Merchant Navy, with over 3000 Canadian casualties taken during this campaign.
For more Battle of Atlantic photos Go Here
- Curtis Maynard;
- Dan Ryan;
- Nicolette Gignac;
- Erik St-Gelais; and
- Kai Zhao
Remember to check out Flickr to view more photos.