From the Archives: Christmas Past at RRMC

Jenny Seeman
Christmas lights at RRMC

Fifty years ago this week, Royal Roads Military College was full of the Christmas spirit. For the first time, the Christmas dinner for staff and cadets was held in the evening rather than at noon. As reported in the annual yearbook, The Log, this move “allowed for a more relaxed and congenial atmosphere in pale candlelight. A good time was enjoyed by all”.

The Christmas Ball was held on the following evening and as in previous years, cadets dressed in their scarlets and welcomed their gown-clad dates to the Quarterdeck for a night of dancing, live music and frivolity. Each year, the task of decorating was given to a small team of cadets and in 1966 the theme of “A Christmas Frolic” was achieved with grand archways of fresh cut boughs leading up the stairs, low strung streamers in the dance hall, several glittering Christmas trees and a 10ft wreath with a giant foil candle as its centrepiece. Even the outside of Grant Building and the mast in front of the castle were festooned with Christmas lighting. 


Our archival collection of photographs shows that the Christmas Ball was always a grand affair at the military college. However, leaving Christmas decorating to cadets could be a risky endeavour. In the 1950s, some cheeky cadets took the task of decorating for the Ball a little too literally!

Sports also found their way into the festivities. In the final week before Christmas, a hockey game was played between the junior and senior cadets. After the challenges of the recruit term, where the second year cadets were allowed to exercise their seniority over the new cadets, a 2-1 victory to the juniors in 1966 must have been a sweet victory!

As well as a Christmas Dinner and Ball, the cadets also performed an annual carol service in the castle for invited guests. For many years, a bell ringing club enhanced the performance with their renditions of various traditional Christmas tunes. Sixty years ago, in 1956, the Lieutenant-Governor attended the carol service, after which the assembled guests enjoyed an evening of refreshments in the Wardroom. The performing cadets were not invited to this event and had to return to their dorm rooms in Nixon building. No doubt they found other ways to celebrate the completion of their exams!

In 1952, the bell ringers made a Christmas album. You can hear a clip of the recording here.

Do you have any Royal Roads related archival holiday stories to share? Contact Jenny Seeman in the archives on ext. 4122.