Despite the fact that my dad was in the military, I wasn’t involved in the cadet programs during high school – I was more into sports – so while I had an idea that there would be some military discipline along with the academics, I was surprised at first when I got to Royal Roads. The bus pulled up and folks started shouting at us immediately. The next phase is a blur. Cadets are under constant pressure to run everywhere, to stand at attention anytime a senior student talked to you. There’s a fair bit of team building during the recruit term – the first six weeks. At the end of that period we had to run an obstacle course and then we were considered full cadets.
There was a daily mix of academics, sports, discipline and marching. It was very rigorous. In the small classes, there was no place to hide. We got lots of personal attention and the professors were available in the evenings for extra help.
There was a heavy emphasis on sports. We got introduced to English rugby which I really loved, and I played hockey and soccer. There was an intramural program as well as a rep team. It was always nice to get selected to the rep team, which meant a trip off campus to play. There weren’t many opportunities to go off campus, so any chance you got to leave was welcome.
As you might expect, there were many formalities at a military college, including a variety of visits and parades for visiting dignitaries. One such key event occurred in my second year, on February 15, 1965, when we lowered the ensign for the last time and raised the new Canadian flag. The fact that we had our own flag instead of the Union Jack was really quite wonderful, but something that we had little time to reflect on in that busy environment.
The first year was tough, but in the second year you were a senior – a king, almost. The environment contributes to the establishment of strong bonds, and I made many lifelong friends during my time at Royal Roads. There are quite a few from my class members in the Ottawa area and many of us socialize regularly. My wife and I definitely plan to go to the Homecoming events planned at RRU this fall. I’ve only been back twice since I graduated – once for my daughter Lara’s convocation. We can say we are both Royal Roads alumni! My wife and I were thrilled when Lara decided to get her master’s degree and the fact that she attended Royal Roads was an added bonus. After the ceremony, we walked around the campus and I saw myself in some old photos in the museum.
In going to university you gain a lot of internal discipline and problem solving skills. The ability to reason and work my way through problems logically was probably the biggest benefit of a place like Royal Roads.