Royal Roads – Military College or University

Royal Roads Hatley Castle 23We recently spent four days at our Worldmark condo in Victoria, with good friends Richard & Karen. With no time constraints for the return, we decided to complete a circuitous route through the western suburbs, along the coast to Port Renfrew, then across the mountains and up to Duke Point Ferry Terminal. One of our stops was at Royal Roads in Colwood, which is currently a University, but in previous years hosted one of Canada’s Military Colleges.

For an additional challenge, I signed up for the Writing 201 Course at Blogging University and this week’s challenge is to find a different angle, while creating a post, or re-writing an existing one.

Completely devoid of any artsy qualities, as I am your classic Type-A, director type personality, this is a really tough assignment for me. Firstly, even in retirement, I find rewriting an existing post terribly unproductive, so that leaves me creating a new one. Now my dilemma, since I only write about our travel experiences, which are always based on the normal “W’s”, how do I create one from a different angle?

Rather than only describing our current visit and including present day photographs, I am going to discuss our experiences at Royal Roads over the past 50 years.

Royal Roads Hatley Castle 2

                                               Hatley Castle from the lower parking lot (2016)

Royal Roads University is located on the grounds of Hatley Castle National Historic Site, which includes 800 acres of land. Originally purchased by James Dunsmuir, who’s family was one of the pioneer British Columbia families, they were heavily involved in the coal industry. Completed in 1908, the castle was the Dunsmuir’s family home/mansion.

The Government of Canada purchased the property in 1940, with the original plan to house the UK Royal Family during WW2. However, the children wouldn’t leave without the Queen, the Queen wouldn’t leave without the King and the King stated he would never leave.

It started as a naval training base, but by 1948 it changed name to Joint Services College and expanded to include the Air Force and Army. In 1968 the name changed again to Royal Roads Military College.

1967 - Andy & Jeff at Royal Roads Military College

Judi’s brothers while cadets at RRMC (1967)

The above photograph was taken during Judi’s first trip to Royal Roads, visiting her brothers who both attended the 2-year cadet officer training program. Her oldest brother Andy later returned in the 1970’s, as an instructor. This photograph was taken from close to the lagoon looking up towards the castle.

1968 - Geoff graduating from Royal Roads

                                                     Cadet graduation ceremony (1968)

The above graduation ceremony took place on the lawn directly in front of the castle, which in those days was well covered by vines. Judi and her parents were in the rows of seats while her younger of two older brothers graduated.

1968 - Geoff at his graduation from Royal Roads

                                                                      Graduation time (1968)

Judi’s brother on his graduation in front of the castle, off to the side of the stage.

1967 - Andy as a cadet on parade at Royal Roads Military College

                                                             Graduation Cadet Parade (1967)

The above photograph is from Judi’s older brother, on his graduation. The parade ground is now the lower parking lot, with the seating installed on the lawn above the rock wall.

1967 - Andy as a cadet on parade at Royal Roads Military College 4

Graduation Cadet Parade & Esquimalt Lagoon (1967)

The above photograph looks over the parade ground and playing fields to the Esquimalt Lagoon. The playing fields were used for parking the family cars.

Royal Roads was also a popular location for weddings and portraits/photographs. In 1980, I experienced my first visit to Royal Roads, while on our honeymoon. We hired a photographer, got dressed up again and had our wedding photographs taken at Royal Roads.

Aug 80 - Wedding Photos at Royal Roads, formal portrait, Andy & Judi walking up steps 2

                                                          Top of stairs in front of Castle (1980)

Zooming forward to 2016, on entering the facility, we initially drove around the castle then headed down to the lower parking lot, which used to be the parade ground.

Road Roads now parking lot and previous parade ground

                                                    Royal Roads Lower Parking Lot (2016)

The above photograph was taken at the opposite end of the parking lot/parade ground from the first of the graduating parade photos above. It is looking at the entrance, where the cadets entered the parade ground, in formation.

Royal Roads Hatley Castle

                           Royal Roads lower parking lot looking up to Hatley Castle (2016)

Taken from the lower edge of the parking lot/parade ground looking up towards the castle. The above graduation parade photographs were taken from temporary stands built atop the rock wall, for the ceremony.


Royal Roads Hatley Castle 23

                                                                          Hatley Castle (2016)

We walked from the parking lot up to the castle, with the above photograph showing the location of the 1968 graduation ceremony. Note, all the vines have been removed from the walls.

Royal Roads lagoon lawns

                               Old playing fields looking down to Esquimalt Lagoon (2016)

Taken from the lower edge of the parking lot, this looks across the lawns and down to Esquimalt Lagoon. This lawn was the sports fields, as seen in the first photo of Judi’s brothers and the family car parking during graduation ceremonies.

Royal Roads view of Esquimalt Lagoon from Hatley Castle

                                                    View of the grounds from the castle (2016)

Walking through the gardens around the castle, we were pleasantly surprised to spot the resident peacocks.

Royal Roads Peacock sitting on wall

Royal Roads peacock in garden

                       Two of the many peacocks freely roaming through the gardens (2016)

If you are in Victoria, don’t forget about Royal Roads, which can be a great scenic attraction, especially on sunny days. It is less than 1/2 hr from downtown Victoria, depending on traffic.


4 thoughts on “Royal Roads – Military College or University

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.