An Archival Moment: Could you pass muster?

Jenny Seeman
An Archival Moment: Could you pass muster?

Stan Franklin (4906), in his biography of Cadet Life at Royal Roads Military College: 1956-1958, notes that January 30, 1957 was kit muster. His journal entry reads: “Had a kit muster. It wasn’t too bad. Mr. McMeekin inspected. School is going OK.”

The kit muster was a RCN practice inherited from the Royal Navy which required that a sailor had to produce his kit when required to do so by a senior officer. There were particular rules about how the kit should be laid out and where exactly on the kit the sailor’s initials should appear. The practice of kit musters was largely (unofficially) abandoned aboard ship during and after the Second World War but seamen were still expected to muster their kit before each draft. It was used for cadets as part of their training in proper maintenance of their personal supplies.

As cadets, the kit muster would be a 'surprise' inspection in that you couldn’t prepare for it in advance. Ideally, you should always be ready for a kit muster to show that you still possessed all the clothing and gear that had been issued to you. Failure to produce each kit item in good condition would result in punishment, as would any unauthorised alteration to kit items. With all the items in a kit to keep in perfect condition, it seems that the kit muster itself must have felt like a form of punishment.

The list below from the 1944-45 College Prospectus shows what was issued to cadets upon their arrival at Royal Roads in 1944.

More information about kit musters can be found on the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum website.