Reprinted with the kind permission of Andrew Cusack
WHAT BETTER WAY to celebrate this, the feast of St. John the Baptist and the national day of Quebec, than to bring you news of the reëstablishment of the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. The site in the town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu was first put to a military use in 1666 when the French soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. The Collège militaire royal, however, was only founded in 1952 when it was inaugurated by the Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey, CC, CH, GCStJ, CD, PC as a classical college to increase the number of French-speaking officers in the Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
An artillery salute is fired as the Governor General arrives to re-open the Collège.
The end of the Cold War, however, resulted in massive cuts to Canada’s armed forces, and both the Collège militaire royal in Quebec and Royal Roads Military College in British Columbia faced the axe, as a traditional military education became the exclusive preserve of the old Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario.
Lt. Gen. the Hon. Roméo Dallaire, OC, CMM, GOQ, MSC, CD — a Senator and alumnus of the Collège — said “The decision to close the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean was particularly ill-advised,” and urged its re-opening. The Hon. Marcel Prud’homme echoed the retired general’s sentiments, rising in the Senate to say “Honourable senators, the closing of Collège militaire royale de Saint-Jean is one error of the past that I find unforgivable. Given the very important role the new administration wants to give to the armed forces, could the government now consider reopening Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean as soon as possible?”
The band of the Royal 22eme Regiment lead the march-past for the Governor General.
The government decided last year to re-establish the Collège, though not as the full university it was when it closed in 1995. Instead, the CMR will be a CEGEP or Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel. CEGEPs are two-year programs, unique to Quebec, that are equivalent to the last year of American high school and the first year of university studies. For Québécois students, they are mandatory if one desires to proceed to university. The re-founded Collège militaire royal will act, in part, as a feeder school for the Royal Military College in Kingston as well as a place of education for those who desire a Francophone education in the military tradition.
The new cadets on parade.
Assembled and ready for inspection.
Her Excellency inspects the cadets.
After reviewing the troops, Her Excellency the Governor General unveiled the grant of arms from the Canadian Heraldic Authority alongside Colonel J.U.F. Pion, head of the Collège…
… while representations of the arms & flag, the Queen’s Colour, and the College Colour were also unveiled.
Col. Pion admires the resurrected arms.
So we wish a très bonne St-Jean-Baptiste to all the Québécois, and may St. John the Baptist continue to bless his Royal Military College, his province of Quebec, and all the Dominion of Canada!