The Return of the Royal Military College to Cadet Training
Dr. R. C. Wallace, C.M.G., Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University
(Excerpt from 1948 Review)
It has been, I feel sure, a very difficult problem for the Department of National Defence to decide how to proceed, in the light of the experience of the war, with the training of officers for the Army. So much is new that the old methods and old institutions had to stand on their merits, and not on tradition. But it was a very encouraging announcement that was made by the Minister of National Defense on May 1st when he stated that the Royal Military College would open for training of cadets in September 1948. Encouraging, that is to say, to the people of Kingston and those who have to do with Queen’s University. For we had learned to know R.M.C., its staff and its cadets, over many years.
There had been times of rivalry, even of feeling; but underneath it all was a sense of deep respect and understanding. For we on our side have had succession of specially recommended students to come to Queen’s for their final year of our B.Sc. course, in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and they have acquitted themselves with high credit. They brought to the campus as well that characteristic bearing and atmosphere which is hard to define, but which is very familiar to all who know the Royal Military College. In a word, they added something of value to our university life.
That is purely a local picture. I have no doubt that other universities could give a similar testimony, but we at Queen’s are the next door neighbours to R.M.C., and can speak with that knowledge which comes from familiarity. I would feel however that the authorities who had to reach decisions had necessarily a much wider viewpoint to consider than the purely local appreciation of an institution. They had to appraise the contribution that R.M.C. has made through its graduates in two world wars-and it is an unforgettable contribution. They had as well to consider the prestige that had grown round an institution in the public mind, in a country where traditions are all the more valuable in that they are scarce. A tradition had group up, as far as one could judge, greatly to the advantage of the Army, which had not quite as yet obtained the rating as a profession in Canada that it has achieved in older countries. But it is rapidly reaching that status, and traditions of R.M.C. have made no inconsiderable contribution to that end.
Now that the universities are a prominent part in the programme of training for officer rank in the services with an augury of success much more promising than might have been anticipated when the plan was proposed, the inauguration of cadet training in R.M.C. next year will provide a plan of training somewhat different from, and complementary to, the combined University-Defence-Department programme. We may expect that the two paths may lead to somewhat different goals, and that the choice will make possible that variety of technique and skill and personality which the experiences of the last four years have shown to be so necessary. May we not face another wat in our time, but may we have the men ready to meet it if it comes. The Department of National Defence is to be commended for the wise and statesmanlike steps which have been so well thought out and are in process of such careful execution.