Royal Military College of Canada

Creating the College

In 1874, an Act was passed by the Dominion Government of The Hon Alexander Mackenzie to establish a Military College “for the purpose of imparting a complete education in all branches of military tactics, fortification, engineering and general scientific knowledge in subjects connected with and necessary to a thorough knowledge of the military profession”. Government emphasis was placed on nation building by the graduates, trained as engineers, in an attempt to defuse political opposition to the concept of a Military College.

The College opened in June 1876 with its first class of 18 Cadets, the “The Old Eighteen”. The first Commandant, Lt-Col (later Lt-Gen) E.O. Hewett of the Royal Engineers, served for eleven years, and it was he who chose the College motto, “Truth, Duty, Valour” and selected the College badge. The title “Royal” was granted by Queen Victoria in 1878. Canada’s standing army was very small at the time and provided only a limited opportunity for service. The British Army, however, offered at least four commissions each year to graduates and these were eagerly sought after by those seeking an Imperial military career. This practice was retained until 1942. Most graduates returned to a civilian profession, and saw service in the Militia where openings existed.

Contributions of Graduates

Since 1880, when the first class of Cadets graduated, Ex-cadets have distinguished themselves in many areas. They have seen military service in the North-West Campaign of 1885, in the South African War, on the North-West Frontier of India, in the First and Second World Wars and in Korea. More recently, Ex-cadets have participated prominently in Canada’s peace-keeping and peace-making commitments worldwide – serving with NATO forces in Europe, in the Middle East, South-West Asia and Afghanistan, Africa, the former Yugoslavia and now in Eastern and Central Europe.

Many have also served in government, academic, business and professional spheres, as the nation-builders of the original concept.

College Milestones:


Act was passed by the Dominion Government of The Hon Alexander Mackenzie to establish a Military College


June 1st, The Old Eighteen begin classes at RMC


After the outbreak of the First World War, RMCs academic focus was reduced and military training took priority


Major-General Sir Archibald Macdonell was selected as Commandant of RMC to restore RMC to its pre-war academic program combining engineering studies with military training.


RMC closed as a cadet college but continued to function as an army staff college.


RMC was reopened as a tri-service cadet college with an enriched academic program that balanced humanities and science.


Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) was introduced when the Canadian Forces was expanded to meet new NATO commitments.


By an act of the Ontario Legislature, the Royal Military College became a university empowered to grant degrees in Arts, Science, and Engineering.


RMC became bilingual with second language training added to the College program


The first female cadets were enrolled at RMC


The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) programme was introduced at RMC. ALOY offers aboriginal youth the opportunity to experience military life, take university level courses and develop their leadership skills.