5276 JR Digger MacDougall: “Caught on my return from the Colwood”

“Caught on my return from the Colwood”

J. R. ‘Digger’ MacDougall

At Royal Roads, supplemental exams were held before graduation. While those that had to write supps studied and looked for other things to fill their time, seniors and juniors that had passed all exams went on a sailing cruise aboard HMCS Oriole, the RCN’s 100 foot yacht. I was not one of the sailors.

I had a record amount of supps to write at the end of 1st year. When the boredom of studying set in, I got a table and six chairs and set up a poker game in my cabin, to which I invited a few seniors and juniors to participate. It just so happened that my cabin was on the 2nd deck at the back of the Nixon Block where my window opened directly to ground level; very appropriate for an undetected exit. On the 2nd night of poker, one of the players suggested that a beer would go down “quite lovely”. I was sitting out of the game at the time; so I just  donned my cape over my T-shirt, sneakers and dungarees, took my pillbox, exited via the window and headed up the hill behind the Nixon Block. I snuck around the guardhouse, where normally I would have had to sign out, and walked to the Colwood Inn, with the money I had collected from the players, and purchased a case of 12 Lucky Lager.

I put on my pillbox and headed along the road toward the college, carrying the case of 12 under my cape.. A car stopped beside me and the civilian driver asked if I wanted a lift. At my request, he took me into the PMQ area and dropped me off. All I had to do was walk down the hill.

As chance would have it, a commissioned officer was walking his dog in the opposite direction along the path that I was on. Noting my weird uniform and sneakers. He asked if I was on a Skylark. I replied no, and that I was on an errand for some seniors and my own classmates. He said, “I don’t want to see what you have under your cape, but I do want to see you in my office at 0900. Carry on.” I saluted, acknowledged and walked away very briskly. The poker players each enjoyed two cool and delicious brews that night as the game went until about 0100. I took the case of empties the stationary engineer who operated the college heating plant in the subterranean basement of the Nixon Block.

The next morning, I missed breakfast to cram for my upcoming exam at 0900. I never did get to the office of the Squadron Leader who had stopped me. When he later questioned my not showing up as ordered, I said I was writing exams at 0900. I got off with a warning.

Thereafter, we took turns going to the Colwood Inn but ensured that we did not encounter any dog walkers.

5276 JR Digger MacDougall


  • Dan Farrell RRA12

    February 5, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Been there, done that. Like you I ducked out a window during study period one evening and trotted up to the Colwood. I did not, however, go to buy beer for my classmates. There was a mixed section in the Colwood then where ladies were admitted. In the section for males only I entered and ordered a beer. While quaffing my drink I happened to glance past an open partition into the mixed section where, to my horror, I observed the commander of the cadet wing, W/C …. and his wife enjoying a glass with other staff members. I evaded detection then and exercised great caution during future visits. Cheers.

  • 10296 Stewart Robertson

    February 5, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Digger. I thoroughly enjoyed your story – it certainly is ‘in character’. Brought back memories of Nixon block, the smell of the woods and feel of the night Pacific air.

  • 7151Russ Moore

    February 5, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Just drove by the site 10 minutes ago returning from the golf course (12 and sunny)
    News item from a few weeks ago “A backhoe dug through the remains of the Cross Roads Bar and Grill on Wednesday. The Tudor-style building, originally called the Colwood Inn, was built at Colwood Corners in 1936.
    It was moved in 2012 to the back of a lot on Sooke Road to make room for Capital City Centre, a project that was abandoned in 2013 when developer League Assets faced bankruptcy.”