3857 Richard Patterson Remembers: How RMC Was Hit by an Ice Storm On a Cloudless Night (or Mission Accomplished)

Article by 3857 Richard Patterson

It was the winter of 1956/57, as I foggily remember.  One evening, the Football team, after a successful season, was having a little party in the Staff Mess where there was a bar available.  Perhaps we were now not being completely regarded as children.

It was Friday evening; I think I recall. It was a nice get-together but there was a Wing parade the next morning (could have been Saturday night and Sunday morning). If the weather was bad, the parade would be held in the halls and seniors didn’t have to attend. A bunch of us in fourth year were looking out the window occasionally, hoping for a snowstorm so we wouldn’t have to go on parade on the morrow.  It was a clear, starry night.  Not encouraging.

One of us, I can’t remember who, suggested that we should help a reluctant Mother Nature a bit.  We knew that there was a firehose on a cart in a shed behind the Commissionaire’s gatehouse, so we went to our rooms and changed into other gear, including those big US Army parkas the team used as warming coats. Out we went.

One volunteer distracted the Commissionaire while the rest of us rolled out the fire hose cart and took it to the parade square. We managed to hook it up to a hydrant and started to make a rink out of the square starting on the East side. A third-year cadet came out to see what was going on and was persuaded by Roy Naudie (a Big man) that it would be better if he (the third-year cadet) went to bed, having seen nothing. “Yes, Mr Naudie. Right away, Mr Naudie!”

The effect was perfect. Wherever the spray hit it froze into glaze ice immediately.  Sometime up the front of the buildings. Problem was we got onto our own ice and then the hose started pushing its holders around.  “Lookout, Roy!” Swoosh.  “Here it comes again!” Swoosh. Naudie’s parka was a sheet of ice.

Our fun was interrupted when a senior came out and told us that the Duty Staff Office had been called and was dressing to come. We reluctantly turned off the hydrant, rolled up the hose and took the cart back.  The duty commissionaire either didn’t know or didn’t want to know.

Next morning dawned bright and sunny.  The eastern sun glint off over a little over half of the square which was glaze ice from that strange storm, glaring into the eyes of residents on the west side of the square.  Shelby Golab (the coach’s son) was having considerable trouble getting to the Stone Frigate on his bike to deliver his papers.

There was no outdoor parade that morning.

3 Comments

  • 8457, Paul Robinson

    April 20, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    I recall a similar endeavour a few years later. We were due to put on a parade for a visiting US general, as I recall. So, to avoid the bother of a parade, we got hoses, gash buckets, etc into play and worked throughout the night. Mission accomplished as the square was completely iced. The next day the parade went ahead on the football field!

  • Gerry Stowe

    April 21, 2021 at 10:03 am

    I remember Paul’s incident well. I was on staff in the winter of 1966-67, and the College was slated to parade on Parliament Hill in the spring to celebrate Canada’s centennial. When the Commandant, Air Commodore Birchall, was informed of the parade square skating rink, he quickly decided the the Cadet Wing would have an early practice on the football field grass. The “icers” had done a lot of work for a skylark that did not save them from the Sunday morning parade.