Why the “H” in college numbers?

We often are asked about the “H” with the college number especially when it involves an Ex Cadet. Following is a short back and forth exchange on the subject.

I enjoy receiving Veritas via e-mail each week; however, occasionally questions or comments occur to me which I would like to address directly to the editor. Perhaps my eyesight is failing me, but nowhere can I find a way of sending a ‘Letter to the Editor’. If there is a way, would you please enlighten me.

Incidentally, I notice opposite Jack Vance’s college number at the beginning of his obituary the letter ‘H’. Would you please tell me what the ‘H’ signifies?

3569 P.B. Hindmarch

Hi Phil: Thank you for contacting us.

In regards to the “H”. It signifies that he was was made a Lifetime Honouary member of the Club.

In regards to contacting the Editor. Feel free to contact me at anytime. We always appreciate receiving ‘comments’ on particular articles.

I hope this has been helpful.

Bill Oliver


I’m sorry to bother you further with this matter but, frankly, I’m confused (not an unusual state for someone of my advanced years!).

In my experience, one is not made an honourary member of an organization to which he (or she) already belongs, and presumably will continue to belong for the rest of his/her life. For example, a respected faculty member at RMC who is not an ex-cadet might, quite rightfully, be elected an honourary member of the Club, but were he an ex-cadet some other way of recognizing him would be found.

Jack Vance deserves every honour that can be bestowed, but I can’t see that an honourary membership in the RMC Club, in which he was a member since his graduation in 1957, is appropriate.

I would appreciate your comments.



We asked an expert on the subject, 5611 Gerry Stowe, Adjutant of the Old Brigade to provide some background.

Hi Phil,

As the chairperson of the Honours and Awards Committee in the RMC Club of Canada, it falls to me to explain our system of honours and awards.

Our Constitution provides, in Article 9.3: .1 Gentlemen and ladies who have at any time rendered outstanding and long term service and brought great honour to the Canadian Military Colleges, the Club or the Foundation may be elected to Honorary Life Membership.

.2 Honorary Life Members shall be accorded all privileges of membership and shall be exempt from the payment of annual dues. They shall be granted an honorary college number with the prefix “H”.

We have accorded such membership to members such as Air Commodore Len Birchall, General John de Chastelaine, Colonel Chris Hadfield, successive Governors General who have accepted the invitation to be the Patron of the Club, others who have rendered outstanding service to the Club, whether they be Ex-Cadets or not. In order to recognize Ex-Cadets in this way, the prefix “H” is added to their original college number. The practice has been carried out for several decades and is very much appreciated by the recipients, even though most of them are paid up for life, and receive no rebate on their Life Membership subscription.

I hope I have provided some enlightenment on this subject.

5611 Gerry Stowe

Adjutant of the Old Brigade

Thank you, Gerry.

I think all the people you mentioned deserve special recognition (honourary degrees?), but honourary memberships in the RMC Club for those who are already Club members seem to me rather ridiculous; however, if the practice has been carried out ‘for several decades’ I won’t make an issue of it now.


Note: In a future edition we hope to clarify the difference between the “H” and the “S” both of which signifies Honourary members. BTW there are no Ex cadets with the “S” with their college number.

One Comment

  • JJ Smith

    October 16, 2013 at 4:52 pm


    Thank you for an incisive response (including that of 5611 Gerry Stowe) on this fascinating and hitherto little known matter. Ever the jurist, I feel it necessary to point to a conflict in the matter of the issue of “H” designators for college numbers. (I mean in no way to impugn the integrity of those deciding upon Honorary membership, and less so the recipients of it.) Here’s the conflict. The Canadian state issues, in the first instance, college numbers to entering cadets (and others). So the jurisdiction in respect of college numbers is that of the Crown (at least ultimately). I can’t think that the RMC Club (i.e. its members) would want to trench on the Crown’s authority in the matter. It comes down to a question of the legality of Article 9.3.2 of the Club’ constitution. I would conclude, although reluctantly, that the Article is ultra vires the Club’s authority insofar as it operates to confer college numbers.

    Kind regards, 16142 JJ Smith