THE NEW FORT CHAMPLAIN – In the making…

THE NEW FORT CHAMPLAIN – In the making…

By: 14510 LCol Susan Wigg 0f Director of Cadets (Photos by: Susan Wigg; Cynthia Kent & Heather Wallace)

Memory lane is one way to describe my return to RMC…and it is surprising how many things fit into that category. But I am thankful that I arrived in time to visit my old rooms in Fort Champlain … before their destruction. Built in 1965, it was 15 years old when my class arrived. Looking back, we would surely describe it as solid, functional, comfortable and above all else, easy to clean. Twenty-six years later, looking past the minor destruction, dirt and general disarray as it was about to undergo transformation, it felt as if time had stood still – everything was as it used to be.

My fellow 5 Squadron members will no doubt understand the selection of pictures and relate easily to the entrance foyer from Point Fredrick Drive, the arrival at the door to the room where Kye was enjoyed every night, moving up the few stairs to use the phone booths (yes, there were no cell phones in that era), sliding behind the wall of phone booths to get our mail and then darting across lobby to try to avoid the Squadron Commander’s office doorway on our way up stairs. My reminiscing was in August 2010 and now those locations are all gone.

Everyone is now watching with excitement the reconstruction of Champlain and the resulting birth of a new era of cadet life in the majestic building. A huge excavation exists where the first floor was. The purpose – to lay the foundations on solid rock, to bring the building up to code from the inside out, bottom to top. It is extraordinary. Special care is being taken to get it right and to ensure drainage and water proofing so dampness will not permeate. On the way to the second floor the extra wide cement staircases have been replaced by scaffolding steps that feel more like a monkey gym and challenge the best of us to overcome a sense of vertigo.

Each of the floors has been gutted completely. Gone are the long hallways where we stood to attention outside our doors while the Cadet Squadron Training Officer barked out drill commands to start morning inspections and the rooms and washrooms where we used a good deal of elbow grease polishing and dusting. Modernization will include new windows and … well, we will just have to wait and see beyond that. A complete transformation is underway! With such vast empty space, it would be too hard to imagine and do justice to the possibilities this clean slate will produce. The project completion is expected for the arrival of the class of 2016.

xxxxxx

2 Comments

  • 6940 Ron Stewart

    February 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I too remember Ft Champlain. Is seems like only yesterday that I moved to the newly finished Ft Champlain after three great years in Ft Haldimand as a member of the baby blue, Number Four Squadron. As CSSO,in my senior year, I Initially claimed the top floor south west corner dorm room as my domain. This was short lived as CFL Clive Addy in cohouts with other squadron executive ganged up and had me booted down the hall to less princely quarters. Nevertheless I excelled as sports officer and ensured Four Squadron’s just and deserving place at the right of the line.
    It doesn’t seem possible that that 1965 sparkling new dormitory is up for a renovation. Perhaps it’s also time to consider a similar project for this 1943 model as well.

  • Don Gates, 8035

    March 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Great reminders of Ft. Champlain when it was brand new. What a great way to be welcomed to RMC as a rookie in the fall of 1965, along with a visit by Queen Elizabeth II just to cut the ribbon. The priviledge of being allowed in the New Dormitory was just one of the reasons we were told that Number 5 Squadron Brock was so special by our SHQ’s Doyle, Hunter, Thompson, Watson, and of course, the infamous Ken Spinney, then divied up into flights that first fateful day. With a commanding view into the mailroom from the floor above, it was somewhat of a shock to be awoken for the first (but not the last) time at 2 am to the somehwat boisterous shenaginans of seniors from 4 Squadron (so named above?) returning from the Manor. Or overlooking some poor malcontent’s entire room & contents set up in a more snowy setting just off the front entrance. It all seems now to have balanced the fearful nature of those first few weeks, notably after other big changes like the morning runs right off the end of the old dock.

    Perhaps arrangments can be made for the Queen to re-dedicate Ft. Champlain some 50 years after her first opening, along with special entry to the Old Brigade for such excellent services rendered to RMC like the rest of the Class of ’69.