La Chasse-Galerie & 8833 John Leggat

“Logo courtesy of Sleeman/Unibroue”

E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) interviewed 8833 Col (Rat’d) John Leggat (RMC 1971), one of fifteen Ex-Cadets who will raise money for the Danny McLeod Athletic Endowment Fund by paddling a voyageur canoe from Ottawa to Kingston this September, 2011. You can make a pledge or donation at

Victoria Edwards: You are related to several ex-cadets.

John Leggat: Yes. My dad, 2098 BGen Walter Leggat (RMC 1929) went overseas during WWII as a Captain and was promoted in 1944 to Brigadier at 32 years of age.  He passed away 15/06/1992.  My uncles on both sides were ex-cadets. My mother’s brother was Jack Wallace and my dad’s brother-in-law was Donal McInnis. My Great Uncle Sydney Williams, who served as honorary chaplain for the RMC Club for many years, died in 1968. They all advised me to go to the College and supported me while I was there. My parents visited me at the College each year and my uncle Jack attended my graduation.

Victoria Edwards: This is your first ex-cadet fund-raising canoe trip down the Rideau.

John Leggat: 8788 Geoff Bennett (RMC 1971) asked me to paddle in 2006, however it  wasn’t convenient since I had work commitments with CFN Consultants. For this year’s trip, I was able to clear out the week.

Victoria Edwards: You took the salute during the first trip in 2001.

John Leggat: Since I had served as President of the RMC Club in 1999-2000, I was the past president of the Club during the first La Chasse Galerie canoe trip in 2001. I dressed up in my RMC blazer and attended the send off under the Wellington Bridge in Ottawa by the Chateau Laurier. Once the group were organized and kitted out with the canoe, they sailed past Le Café, at the National Arts Center where a group of friends and families of the paddlers enthusiastically bid them farewell. I recall that H4860 Gen (Ret`d) John de Chastelain (RMC 1960) played the bagpipes. I took the salute. We drank Maudite beer and thought of the paddlers.

Victoria Edwards: Any lessons learned from your previous paddling experience e.g. with 8788 Geoff Bennett (RMC 1971)?

John Leggat: Certainly. I have canoed for a long time and own a fiberglass canoe made for trekking.

After grad in ‘71, Geoff Bennett and I paddled from Algonquin Park to Ottawa along the Madawaska. We camped the whole way. Since you get pretty hungry canoeing, we packed some freeze dried food and ate at a few village hot dogs stands. The best meals, however, were the fish we caught and cooked over open fires in a frying pan with real butter, salt and pepper.

Since it was July, we got eaten by bugs. We sank the canoe once while going through the rapids. We portaged the fourteen foot canoe (80 pounds) along railway tracks. Although we didn’t sing, we chatted a lot.

We navigated using the green maps from Natural Resources Canada. We got lost once because the Centennial Dam, which formed the Centennial Lake (1966) was not on the map. We were surprised to find that the water got wider and not faster. When we walked to a nearby village, the outfitter laughed at our map and showed us where we were. We coloured in the contour on the map.

The 2011 trip will be follow the river and locks, with clearly identified buoys; it is simple from a navigational perspective. Since we will be flatwater canoeing in September, the water shouldn’t be too rough and there are not that many bugs that time of year.

The ex-cadets will eat at restaurants and stay at bed and breakfasts or private homes. The worst day we may face would be south west wing and rain; I recommend grinning and bearing it. We will wear good wet weather gear, and will try to keep our feet and extremities warm.

The bagpipes are always stimulating. I recommend singing as a good way to stay active, motivated and moving.

Victoria Edwards: Traditionally, an adjutant is a regimental staff officer, who assists the colonel, or commanding officer of a garrison or regiment, in the details of regimental and garrison duty. What will your role as the trip adjutant consist of?

John Leggat: I took the job of Adjutant because no one else wanted the job. My assistant –adjutant is 15414 Catherine Paquet-Rivard (RMC 1986). The role of adjutant is a responsible position. In practice, I will carry a credit card (possibly my own) and pay the bills for lock fees, meals and accommodation. I believe we are spending one night in Jeff Bennet’s family cottage on Rideau Lakes and we are still looking for a place to stay in Manotick. The paddlers are a good bunch. The most contentious part of the job may be in determining the sleeping arrangements in the event that paddlers don’t get along or snore.

Victoria Edwards: Why is it important to you to support RMC’s Athletic Endowment Fund, which was named in honour of Major Danny McLeod?

John Leggat: Athletic training is one of the four pillars of RMC. Since there already were ex-cadet endowment programs such as the Cordite Foundation that provides financial support to those activities of the staff and students of the Department of Mechanical Engineering that add value to their experiences at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC).

It was important to me to support RMC’s athletic program. I played on my high school’s football team. At College, I played on the varsity water polo, tennis, and lacrosse teams and was an instructor of swimming classes. I actually never met Maj. Danny McLeod until I graduated from RMC. He was the coach of the hockey team when I was a cadet.

The athletic programs improve the esprit de corps and built the character of college.  The Athletic program is a major contributor to building character. The sports program is important to recruiting of cadets who want to participate at the intramural or intercollegiate level.  Through the athletic program, cadets build confidence, mental and physical stamina. Cadets also develop conditioning and build muscle mass. When I entered RMC at the end of a growing period, I was 5 foot 11 and only 135 pounds. By graduation, I weighed 160 pounds with the additional 25 pounds of muscle mass.

I would like to do some personal fund raising as well as raising funds on behalf of the 6 paddlers from the class of 1971.

Victoria Edwards: Describe the typical RMC athletic gear when you were a cadet?

John Leggat: I recall running the Wing Harrier race wearing PS flyers, which were like boots with flat rubber soles and no arch support. The cadet’s didn’t necessarily get shin splints, or fallen arches, but the shoes weren’t helpful. I recall going to tennis meets in bloomery shorts, white RMC t-shirts with a red border. We didn’t have any RMC jackets or warm up gear. In the late 60s, the cadets` short hair cuts and military looking PT gear always stood out.  It didn’t bother us; we had a lot of fun. The intervening years have brought considerable improvements in PT gear.

Victoria Edwards: Your 4th year mechanical engineering project was aboard the RMC Cordite?

John Leggat:  I studied engineering as a reserve entry cadet at RMC. In fourth year I worked with Col King who wanted to get the most speed out of a sailboat who owned. I use the Chordite motor to tow his sailboat on Lake Ontario to determine the lowest drag conditions. I measured the tension and wrote a good report on it. In the 1970s, researchers were more interested in acoustic ranging and propagation to avoid detection and the impacts of vibrations of the shipboard and radiated noise

Victoria Edwards: outline your career progression since leaving RMC? Any highlights?

John Leggat: I received my education at the Royal Military College of Canada (BEng 1971) and the University of British Columbia (MASc 1973 and Ph.D. 1976) in the field of aeroacoustics. I am also a graduate of the National Defence College.

As a military engineer, I served as an Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) officer. My primary defence research interest is in hydro acoustics, specifically in the silencing of submarines and frigates. I spend spent 14 years at the Defence Research Establishment Atlantic carrying out and leading research in the area of ship and submarine technology pertaining to noise reduction, hydromechanics, ship structures and materials. I retired from the Military in 2000 as a Colonel after spending thirty-three years in the reserves. As Director General of the Defence Research Establishment Ottawa from 1994-1997, I directed a program that addressed radar systems, electronic warfare, communications and space systems.

From 1980 to 1990, I was an adjunct professor in the engineering physics and mechanical engineering departments at the Dalhousie University. Although I never taught at RMC, I helped former RMC’s Principals H24263 Dr. John Plant (RMC ’57), and Dr. John Cowan to have RMC researcher qualify in 2002 as recipients for NSERC grants. I assisted in the effort to make the case that RMC profs should earn NSERC grant. Up to that point, RMC professors were ineligible for NSERC grants since they were considered part of the public service. Today, the REMEC’s rate of grants to active researchers at RMC is one of the highest in Canada.

I retired from the Public Service in 2006 as the Assistant Deputy Minister (Science & Technology) of the Department of National Defence and Chief Executive Officer of Defence R&D Canada (DRDC).

I have been an Associate Consultant with CFN Consultants since September 2005.

The defence S&T network extends beyond the Defence Research Centres to encompass partnerships with Canadian industry, universities, and allied defence S&T organizations.

I help companies who aspire to support the defence and security programs in National Defence and the public service.  I enjoy working with small companies developing innovative ideas for advanced technology and also helping universities win grants.


Donation Forms & Assistance

Our aim at e-Veritas is to conduct one-on-one interviews with all 15 participants (in no particular order) over the next few months of e-Veritas editions.


Class of 1960 4815 Mike Jackson

Class of 1960 H4860 John de Chastelain

Class of 1963 5893 Tom Gee

Class of 1968 H7543 Joe Day

Class of 1971 8684 Peter Holt

Class of 1971 8725 Fergus McLaughlin

Class of 1971 8788 Geoff Bennett

Class of 1971 8816 Marius Grinius

Class of 1971 8833 John Leggat

Class of 1971 8926 Ray Hook

Class of 1972 9143 Bruce McAlpine

Class of 1983 M0288 Roxanne Rees

Class of 1986 15414 Catherine Paquet-Rivard

Class of 1997 20800 Cindy McAlpine

Class of 2002 22461 Claire Bramma