The origins of the Sunset Ceremony lie in two evening routines formerly carried out by soldiers garrisoned in the Low Countries in the 16th Century. The first occurred at sunset, when soldiers fired evening guns, withdrew into fortified camps and cities, locked the gates, and, as the sun set and darkness approached, lowered their flags for the night. The second routine followed at or near dusk, when the night watch was set. Rounds were made to check sentries. During this period, the drums beat a warning for all to return to barracks, and often the band played entertainment tunes, an evening hymn and, finally, the national anthem. The Royal Canadian Navy commenced performing the current and uniquely Canadian Sunset Ceremony in the early 1950s.
Royal Roads Military College carried on this tradition commencing in 1972, and annually conducted this ceremony on the evening prior to the Graduation Parade. It was last held on the grounds in 1995.
The Sunset Ceremony also officially marks the beginning of our 2015 celebrations, acknowledging a combined 75 year legacy of learning and leadership at Royal Roads: 55 years as a military college and institution and 20 years as a public applied research university. For over seven decades, graduates from Royal Roads have applied their learning to lead positive change in their lives, work, communities, Canada and the world.
This evening’s Sunset Ceremony revives the spirit of Royal Roads’ military tradition, both as a training establishment and as an educational institution. The ceremony will include elements of the Royal Military College of Canada Pipes and Drums, the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, the United States Air Force Academy's Drum and Bugle Corps, a fly past by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, a naval guard from Maritime Forces Pacific, guns of the 5th (BC) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, and members of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.
This anniversary provides an opportunity to highlight Royal Roads’ powerful continuum: to celebrate where we came from and where we are going.