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Documentaries recall life at Royal Roads Military College

Michael Reid

When Royal Roads comes up in conversation, it’s often in reference to its status as a progressive university, or to Hatley Castle, its historic centrepiece where sequences for many movies and TV series have been shot over the years.

With Nov. 11 approaching, it’s also worth remembering the educational institution’s military history.

Viewers will get a chance to do that when two documentaries about the university’s years as Royal Roads Military College air on Remembrance Day from 1 to 3 p.m. on CHEK-TV.

Coming Full Circle, produced by Royal Roads University in 2008, covers the former military college’s first three decades, beginning in 1940. Former cadets recall the lighter side of their lives in those days, including collegiate pranks.

Ingrained in Us, produced in partnership with Victoria’s Asterisk Productions Ltd., picks up where the first film left off.

The documentary, completed this year, offers a glimpse of life at the college from the 1970s — including the milestone achieved in the 1980s when female cadets were admitted — to the college’s final graduation parade in 1995.

When RRMC opened in 1940, it filled a need for naval officer training during the Second World War. Before it closed in 1995, making way for the public post-secondary institution of today, it became the country’s western military college serving all three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The profound connection to the military college expressed by interviewees in the films is still felt by current learners, said Paul Corns, associate vice-president community relations and advancement at Royal Roads University.

“We draw a strong connection back to the longer history of place on campus,” he said.

“When you look at the kind of education offered to young men and women, it was a leadership-invested educational experience common to the kind of education to students today.”

In addition to experiencing military discipline, camaraderie and the benefits of high achievement, students who attended the military college learned the value of teamwork, Corns said.

“Priority-setting was a fundamental part of that experience. They came to understand that their personal investment as participants was for the greater good.”

When Royal Roads University celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015, we’ll be hearing more about the site’s training legacy.

“There’s more that connects the public university to our time as Royal Roads Military College than many might think,” Corns said.

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