RMC: Happy Birthday, #142

Feature photo: Royal Military College of Canada in 1920

“The early years of the College were stormy ones. The question of French-Canadian representation arose as early as 1878, with complaints that only one of the 45 cadets admitted at that time was of French extraction.”

Happy Birthday, #142

Compiled from various sources

The Military College which was modelled after the United States Military Academy at West Point opened 1 June 1876 with 18 cadets, staffed by British military officers and one Canadian civilian.

The first Commandant, Colonel E.O. Hewett (1875-86) had begun using the prefix ‘Royal’ (when referring to the Military College) as early as 1877 which was given Royal Assent by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1878.

The first Canadian commandant (1919-25) was 151 Maj-Gen Sir Archibald Macdonnell.

The early years of the College were stormy ones. The question of French-Canadian representation arose as early as 1878, with complaints that only one of the 45 cadets admitted at that time was of French extraction. This was deemed to be the result of having to write the entrance exams in English. Some minor changes were made, but were not effective since a French-Canadian still had to be fluently bilingual to gain entry, and it was well into the twentieth century before any significant numbers of cadets from French Canada were admitted.

In 1952, Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent’s government determined the need for a bilingual military college to provide more equitable representation of French Canadians in the military and founded Le Collège militaire royale St Jean (CMR).