E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) in conversation with 8833 Colonel (Ret) Dr. John Leggat (RMC 1971), who served as RMC Club President 1999-2000.
John Leggat: I attended RMC as a RETP cadet from 1967 to 1971 (BEng). In my final year I was a cadet wing officer and held the position of Cadet Wing Communications Officer. It was a new position that year and in addition to looking after the publishing of The Review and The Marker (Wing newspaper at the time), the four of us in the communications group worked to improve internal communications in the College.
One of the features of the RMC program that attracted me was the athletic program. I was a member of the varsity tennis team. I was also a member of the choir; not a sport of course, but it did give me a musical diversion and regular work out of the vocal chords (as if anyone at RMC needed that!)
e-veritas: Outline your career progression:
John Leggat: After RMC, I continued my education at theUniversity of British Columbia(MASc 1973 and Ph.D. 1976) in the field of aeroacoustics. I am a graduate of the National Defence College. I spent 33 years in the Reserve component of the Canadian Forces, retiring in 2001. I served as Assistant Deputy Minister (Science & Technology) for the Department of National Defence and Chief Executive Officer of Defence R&D Canada (DRDC) until 2005 when I retired from the Public Service of Canada. Since then I have worked with CFN Consultants inOttawaand am now their Senior Advisor.
e-veritas: Experts from RMC were involved in various defence research projects when you served in a number of appointments in Defence R&D.
John Leggat: Certainly. RMC professors and researchers provided scientific contributions to many defence advanced technology programs, particularly in the areas of energy, environment and chemical and radiological warfare defence. There was a close relationship between Defence R&D Canada and RMC, and this led to the formation of the Defence Research Institute at RMC shortly after I retired. One other interesting development came from that relationship. In the early 2000’s I worked closely with two RMC Principals, H3948 Doctor John Plant (RMC 1957) and H24263 Doctor John Cowan to have RMC included as an institution eligible to receive Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grants from the Government. We met with NSERC President of the day, Dr. Tom Brzustowski, who quickly grasped the strengths of the research base at RMC and put the wheels in motion to have RMC included in the research grants program.
e-veritas: How did you get involved with RMC Club business? How did you end up as RMC Club president?
John Leggat: I was active in the Halifax Branch of the RMC Club. When I moved toOttawa, I was encouraged by H3550 Murray Johnston and 8813 John Gibson to let my name stand for election to the Club Executive Committee. As things go, I joined the committee in 1994 and was elected president for the 1999-2000 term. We had a good group throughout those years. We worked well as a team and we took on a number of initiatives that were important for the College and the Club.
e-veritas: What were some of the biggest challenges during your tenure as president?
John Leggat: Three challenges stand out in my mind that we tackled during my tenure. The first was to expand the membership eligibility to non Ex-Cadet graduates, post graduates and those graduating from the College’s Continuing Studies programs. We also brought in a category of Student Member so that Officer Cadets and all others enrolled in programs could become engaged. In bringing in these changes the Club provided the means for all graduates and those enrolled to join an association that binds all those together that have an interest in the well being of the Colleges. The Club passed these membership amendments to its constitution at its AGM in 1999.
Second on my list is Rapprochement. I think that most will remember that this was the bringing together of the Club des anciens du CMR and RMC Club so as to provide one alumni association for graduates and one Club that could attend to the interests of the membership and the Officer Cadets at RMC and Company Fort St Jean (at the time). I worked through the year with 8765 Claude Tassé, President of the Club des anciens du CMR, and we brought this to a successful conclusion at our respective AGMs in the fall of 2000.
Finally there was the question of the refurbishment of the Memorial Arch. During the year, the Club and the Foundation made this initiative the centrepiece of the 125th anniversary of RMC that was to be celebrated in 2001. The Arch was originally built through the contributions of Ex-Cadets of the day, and it seemed reasonable to ask the Club membership to contribute to its refurbishment. It took the efforts of many to complete the task, and it was done in time for the Reunion Weekend of 2001.
I should add that in 1999, the Club launched its magazine Veritas. Getting it up and running was a big effort led by the Executive Director of the day 5851 Barry Winfield. It has proved its value over the years and along with E-veritas serves to keep us up to speed on what is happening at the Colleges and the Club.
e-veritas: What are you most proud of?
John Leggat: Looking back, I think that I am most proud of the volunteer spirit that was endemic at the time and is still characteristic of the Club. It was a great experience to have been a member of that team.
e-veritas: What do you know of the Club business today? What are the Club’s/College(s) biggest challenges?
John Leggat: I keep abreast of what is going on in the Club through Veritas and E-veritas – both are excellent. The challenges to the Club today are in some ways the same as 12 years ago – funding and membership, and in other ways brand new – adapting to the evolution of the colleges and the programs. The challenge remains being relevant to both the membership and the Colleges. It is never a simple task and one that is guaranteed to keep the Executive on its toes.
e-veritas: Would you advise cadets/Ex cadets and former students to get involved with the College extracurriculars/RMC Club?
John Leggat: Yes it is definitely a good idea to get and stay involved in whatever way. We all have made so many life-long friends while at the College. The Club provides one way of keeping in touch. It also provides an avenue to give back to an institution that has given us all a great grounding for life and so many wonderful memories.
e-veritas: What are you up to these days?
John Leggat: I retired from the Public Service of Canada in 2005 after 38 years of combined military and civilian service. I have been consulting with CFN Consultants since then. www.cfnconsultants.com. I also keep busy on the volunteer front. I am a member of the science advisory boards of two federal departments (Natural Resources Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans) and a member of the NSERC Standing Selection Committee. I also do committee work for the Canadian Academy of Engineering, of which I am a past president, and the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries. On the personal side our daughter just gave birth to a son – our first grandchild. So that opens a new dimension in our lives.
Previous interviews with Club Presidents:
E3161 Victoria Edwards in conversation with 3010 Peter McLoughlin (RRMC RMC 1952), who served as the RMC Club President from 1987-88.
E3161 Victoria Edwards in Conversation with 5739 André Costin (CMR RMC 1963), who served as president of the RMC Club in 1995-96. Second in a series.
E3161 Victoria Edwards in conversation with G0055 Valerie Keyes who served as President of the RMC Club in 1998-99
E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) interviewed #3251 Jim Tremain (RMC 1954), who served as RMC Club President 1980-81.