E3161 Victoria Edwards interviewed 14444 Dorothy Hector (RMC 1984) about the painting she commissioned titled “Memories of RMC” for the Class of 84.
Victoria also caught up with Joanne Gervais, a visual artist specializing in portraiture, sports, landscapes & cityscapes in and around Kingston.
e-veritas: How did the `Memories of RMC` commission come about?
Dorothy Hector: My personal desire to have a painting of “memories of RMC” grew into a class project. I approached Joanne Gervais, a professional visual artist in Kingston with the idea. She prepared prep paintings which give you an idea of the elements that are in the final painting. The prep paintings feature the RMC Mackenzie building, RMC Memorial Arch, RMC band, Hospital, and a skylark. Although the final painting wasn’t ready for the reunion weekend, 2009 a partially completed painting was shown at the reunion meet and greet.
e-veritas: I understand that you plan to present a print of `Memories of RMC`.
Dorothy Hector: A print of the final painting will be presented to the Commandant during the reunion weekend in October 2010.
e-veritas: Cadets involved Beetle bugs in many practical jokes over the years. Explain the VW bug in the Coup d’état skylark.
Dorothy Hector: The painting has in it many of the class memories including the Coup d’état skylark. In 1982, the RMC leadership was suddenly unconstitutionally deposed of by a small group of cadets with bananas for epaulettes. Some `banana republic` cadets drove a VW bug onto the parade square while other cadets rappelled out of the Mackenzie building. Since I was on sick parade, I saw the skylark unfold from behind the dais. I recall the irritated expressions and body language of 3173 BGen (Ret) John A. Stewart CD (RMC 1953) the Commandant 1980-2 and of 4154 Col John Annand (RMC 1958), DCadet as they reacted to the skylark. I recall that we were told to quiet our giggling.
e-veritas: Were the skylarks different since your was the first class to included women cadets?
Dorothy Hector: I suppose. Since Brucie has always figured prominently in class skylarks, the early 80s may not have been his first experience in a dress and heels. The cadet sculpture Brucie was dressed regularly in skirts in honour of the first class of lady cadets. Prior to our time, senior male cadets were occasionally dressed in mattress covers and deposited in strategic locations to find their own way home. In our years, makeup and smelly perfumes were applied to these cadets first.
e-veritas: I understand that some class skylarks were left out of the picture.
Dorothy Hector: Sure. We couldn’t possibly include all of the skylarks. At the time, the main guideline was that skylarks needed to be correctable by noon on the following day. I recall that two cadets pulled skylarks on each other regularly. At one point, a cadet was dressed in a clown suit and buried up to his neck. When 3572 BGen (Ret) Frank J. Norman CD (RMC 1956) passed by the garden between the Brucie sculpture and the Mackenzie building, the cadet called out, `sorry, I can’t salute`. Gen. Norman returned shortly with a coffee for the cadet and a chair for himself.
At one point, a VW bug was parked on the oak head table in the RMC mess hall. Another time, a sailboat appeared in the swimming pool in the basement of Fort Haldimand. [The pool in Fort Haldimand, which was closed in the mid-1990s, was filled in and covered with a concrete slab].
E-veritas: What are your ties to the military colleges?
Joanne Gervais: As a professional visual artist specializing in portraiture, sports, landscapes & cityscapes, I have frequently been inspired by RMC. I have had the opportunity to participate in an art exhibition at RMC. I am represented by the Royal Military College of Canada and my prints are available from the RMC Club gift shop. http://www.rmcclub.ca/GiftShop.html The `Memories of RMC painting` and various RMC works, including some larger originals, are currently at my summer gallery at 109 Princess St., Kingston.
E-veritas: Describe commissions you have completed involving the military college.
Joanne Gervais: My website, www.joannegervais.com includes several works featuring cadets and College life. In the reproduction activities section, `The Piper` depicts a piper in the RMC band. In the city and landscapes section, `Sunset on the arch` depicts the Memorial Arch at RMC and `The harbour` depicts the Fort Frederick Martello Tower that houses the RMC museum. In the winter sports section, `Heritage hockey` depicts a Kingston Febfest celebration of the first game played in Kingston in 1886 between hockey teams from the Royal Military College and Queen’s. In the miscellaneous section, there are several scenes of RMC. `Absent Friends` depicts the Remembrance Day parade at RMC. `Glorious Flyer` depicts a plane on a stick on the RMC grounds. `RMC drummer` depicts a drummer in the RMC band. `RMC Mackenzie building` depicts the College administration building and the old hospital. `The old gun` and `The tank` depict a WWII German Anti-Tank Gun and a tank on the RMC grounds.
E-veritas: I understand that your portraits of RMC staff hang at RMC.
Joanne Gervais: Yes. My portrait of H3948 Dr. B. John Plant, OMM, CD, (RMC 1957), hangs in the RMC Senate Boardroom. [Dr. Plant has held academic appointments at RMC since 1965: Lecturer 65/66, Assistant Professor 66/67, Professor and Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering 67/72, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research 1972/84 and he currently serves as an Adjunct Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, RMC.] In addition, a portrait of the late Dr. Walter S. Avis was commissioned by the University Training Plan Non Commissioned Members, hangs in Fort Brant at RMC. [The “W.S. Avis Memorial Lecture Series” and the Class of ‘78 – Dr. Walter S. Avis UTPNCM Honour Shield were also created in memory of this lexicographer and RMC professor of English.]