A Tale of Two Cadets…

Many pass up and down the memorial staircase each day, and even more have at least once in their time at RMCC walked its steps – either to run an errand or because the beauty of the stained glass windows adorning the first landing caught their eye. Of these three stained glass windows, there is one on either side that is different in design and by name but is nevertheless still connected with the other. The one on the left shows St. Michael and is in memory of OCdt Logie; the right depicts Sir Galahad and is in memory of OCdt Smith. Originally, this was all that was known about these two cadets. More is now known about the mystery surrounding these two windows and the sad tales they hold.

The date was May 3rd, 1903, and 603 Arthur Latrobe Smith and 588 James Wylie Logie decided to take to the water on a canoe. Both of their parents resided in Hamilton, Ontario. They were just finishing the school year when tragedy struck. Upon noticing that the two had not returned, search parties were sent out Saturday afternoon, and a lookout was kept throughout the entirety of Sunday. In the Monday’s issue of The British Whig, the front page stated that the “commandant, officers and cadets at the Royal Military College and the relatives and friends of the missing cadets have been forced to face the worst in regard to the disappearance of J. W. Logie and A. L. Smith. That they were drowned from their canoe late on Friday afternoon seems to be certain.” The canoe, Smith’s kitbag, and a paddle were the only remnants found of the incident.

Colonel W. A. Logie had just spent a week in Kingston with his wife for a Queens University convocation ceremony, and they had gotten a chance to see their son days before the accident. He returned to Kingston and took part in the search Saturday afternoon. On the other hand, Mrs. Smith was notified about the missing cadets while visiting in Almonte and was only able to arrive by Sunday afternoon. Smith’s late father, C. B. Smith of Toronto, died the previous July – he was a member of the firm of Smith Curry & Chase and had charge of the Hydro-Electric construction at Niagara Falls. Both Logie’s parents and Mrs. Smith returned home Sunday evening when there was no sight of the cadets’ bodies.

Hamilton Times says “This is not the first time that Logie has been the victim of an accident on the water. A year ago he had a narrow escape. Logie was well and favorably known in Hamilton. A splendid rifle shot, member of the collegiate cadet rifle teams, and having taken part in the annual matches at Toronto and Ottawa, he was well-known outside the city as well. The young man came within a few points of making the Junior Bisley team two years ago.” Logie’s cadet file also notes a ‘Quebec Cup’ that was won for  soccer while at RMC. Not much is known about Smith however; it is only listed that he “was about five feet ten or eleven inches in height and was educated at l’arkdale Collegiate institute Toronto.”

No further articles were found in The British Whig*; the bodies were never found. From this, the parents decided to remember their sons’ passing with the stained glass windows that can be found in the MacKenzie memorial staircase today.

*However, an obituary is recorded to have been written in a long-lost copy of The Proceedings, 1914.

~ Researched and Written by C. W. Kunkel


  • Mike Kennedy

    October 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    An interesting, and obviously tragic, story of two fine young cadets who were taken from us much too soon. As the events in question took place in early May, we can only surmise that their canoe must have somehow overturned, and that the two young men undoubtedly succumbed to hypothermia very shortly thereafter. Their disappearance must surely have been a terrible shock to their families, and to all who knew them at RMC.

    Reading this story, I am reminded of an experience that took place during my own cadet days. Fortuneately, it was one that ended without incident, and in fact on a somewhat humourous note.

    One fine summer afternoon in July 1977, my friend 12498 Peter Bolton took a canoe out onto Lake Ontario. I had never been in a canoe before, so it was a new experience for me. Lucklily, Peter was a fairly expienced canoeist, so he knew what he was doing.

    I remember that once we left the shelter of Navy Bay, the wind started gusting, and the lake became rather turbulent, making the canoe somewhat difficult to control. Peter and I pressed on, landing briefly at Cedar Island, and then continuing back to Kingston, where we debarked in the harbour. As noted above, we were fortunate that our travels proceeded relatively smoothly, and without any real difficulties.

    What I remember next is the two of us sitting on a bench in the harbour, and Peter turning to me and saying, “Do you realize we couldn’t even go for a beer right now ?” Upon hearing this, I withdrew from my pocket a plastic bag containing a $5 bill. After complimenting me for the thoroughness of my Preparation and Planning, Peter and I retired to Muldoon’s, where in those days $5 was sufficient to buy both of us a couple of beers. Peter was even generous enough give my change to the waitress ! After we ran out of money, we paddled back safely to the College, none the worse for the wear.

    As both of us were at RMC that summer awaiting our release from the College and the Forces, Peter and I parted company shortly after this little adventure, and I never saw or heard from him again. I’ve often wondered what eventually became of him, and would appreciate any insights readers of e-Veritas might be able to share. Peter was one of those irrepressible characters who, under the right circumstances, would no doubt have made an exceptional combat leader. Sadly, the CF never recognized or appreciated his talents. But I am sure he has done well in whatever pursuits he has gone on to subseuqent to his premature departure from RMC.

    Any information anyone might be able to provide as to Peter’s activities or whereabouts would be most appreciated.



  • E3161 Victoria Edwards

    October 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I profiled the 3 memorial stained glass windows on the first floor stairwell in the Mackenzie building in the Aug 22nd 2010 edition of e-veritas. The windows recall three cadets who died prior to World War I. http://everitas.rmcclub.ca/?p=42536

    151 Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Macdonell K.C.B., CMG, DSO, ADC, LL.D, who served as Commandant of RMC from 1919-25 made the staircase in the administrative building into a memorial staircase.

    The St Michael window memorial for Gentleman Cadet James Wylie Logie (drowned 1913) was donated in 1920 by his father Hon. James Wylie (1789–1854) and his mother Mary Wylie née Hamilton.

    The Sir Galahad window memorial for Gentleman Cadet Arthur Latrobe Smith, (drowned 1913) was donated in 1920 by his mother and brother.

    The Truth Duty Valour window memorial for Gentleman Cadet Douglas Burr Plumb, (drowned at Romaine, Labrador in 1903) was donated in 1920 by his stepfather, Wallace Nesbitt a Canadian lawyer and Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.