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RRMC Memories: William Rodney (former RRMC Professor of History/Dean of Arts)

William Rodney (former RRMC Professor of History/Dean of Arts)

The modern-European history exam that I gave to the science and engineering students at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria was intended to gauge the officer cadets’ knowledge of geography, current international affairs, history and their writing skills. “Who was the last Bourbon monarch of France?” was one of the questions. No one identified Charles X (1824-30). However, one enterprising cadet, rather than admit defeat, offered, “Jack Daniel.”

–William Rodney (from Reader`s Digest Humor in Uniform, 1995)

Flight Lieutenant (Ret`d) William Rodney D.F.C. is now enjoying retirement after his last posting as professor of history at Royal Roads Military College (now Royal Roads University) on Vancouver Island. He served as Dean of Arts, Royal Roads Military College 1979-88. He was born, raised and educated in Alberta. He earned a degree from the University of Alberta, then an MA from Cambridge and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He was later appointed a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Royal Geographical Society.

Rodney has written several books, many articles and radio documentaries. For Kootenai Brown, he received the University of British Columbia’s Medal for Popular Biography. The book also won an Award of Merit and Distinction from the American Association for State and Local History. Literary awards, however, are only one aspect of Rodney’s life. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and survived an operational tour with the RAF Bomber Command. This duty was extremely hazardous, with some 50 percent of the air crew killed in action. During his service Rodney won the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar.

His Air Force recollections c. 9 March 2005, are in the University of Victoria Military Oral histories. Accession No. 2005-029. William Rodney`s books include: `Kootenai Brown: The Unknown Frontiersman` (2010); `Deadly Mission: Canadian Airmen Over Nuremberg, March 30/31st 1944` (2008); `Joe Boyle King of the Klondike (1974); `Soldiers of the International : A History of the Communist Party of Canada, 1919-1929` (1968); `Neutralism in the Northern NATO States` (1965).

Researched by: E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003)


  • Bruce Beavis

    July 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I was one Dr. Rodney’s Arts students at RRMC. He was a great teacher and was one that stands out in my memories of RRMC.

    After finding some some of us were deficient in our reading for his course on Canadian history, I remember him remarking “I am not going to take you paddle stroke by paddle stroke through the interior with the the explorers, you gentlemen are going to have to do the reading!”

    In a similar vein on another day I can remembering him admonishing us to sharpen up with “There are no Billy Bishops among you birds!”

    Glad to hear that “Doc Rodd” is still around. All the best

    Bruce Beavis

  • Bryan Muloin

    April 6, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    I remember Dr. Rodney as a very impressive personage. He was the only teacher in my brief experience to attend the class in teaching robes. The class room had both a lectern on a dais. He had a full beard. As a first year history class there were only a dozen or so of us. I remember trying to stay awake in his class as all my fellow students had fallen asleep. It seemed as though the only thing we learned from him was to be sure to put our caps badge side down so we would not wake up with our hat badges impressed on our cheeks. I now suspect Dr. Rodney as a hypnotist, using his talent to investigate his students, a very military ploy.
    Is not the London School of Economics next door to the Tavistock Institute. I still wonder what we were evaluated on in his class?
    Bryan Muloin