RMCC Fall Convocation set for Friday at Currie Hall


Royal Military College of Canada will bestow its highest honour on two outstanding individuals by awarding them an honorary degree at its fall convocation ceremonies.

H 3918 Al Roberts will be made a Doctor of  Laws , honoris causa. Former Speaker of The House of Commons, Peter Milliken will also receive a degree of  Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Installation of,  14458 Dr. H.J. (Harry) Kowal, CD, rmc, BEng, MSAe, MA(SS), MDS, PhD, PEng, BGen (Ret’d)  as Principal will also take place during the ceremonies.

M.A. Hennessy , BA, MA, PhD.Professor, Dean of Continuing Studies will receive the John Matheson Award for Academic Leadership.

The honorees will share the stage with approximately 11 undergraduates and approximately 40  graduating students at the ceremonies to be held on Friday, November 22, 2013 at Currie Hall commencing at 1345 hours.

“Upon learning that the Senate of the Royal Military College of Canada was to confer upon me an Honourary Doctorate of Laws for my services to the College and Club, I was surprised and, of course, exhilarated, said Roberts, a 79 year old native of Toronto.

“My ongoing attachment to the College began immediately upon graduation as Secretary of the Class of 1957, a position I have held ever since. This provided initial contact with the Club, which eventually led to active participation in the activities of my hometown Quebec City Branch. The next step was to the Club’s Executive Committee in 1996 and, eventually to the Adjutancy of the Old Brigade in 2003. Through all this, I must mention the loyalty and support of my classmates was vital to my continued involvement in the affairs of the Club and interaction with the College.”

“I would like to name a few of the many colleagues who supported my efforts while I was a member of the Executive Committee and Adjutant of the Old Brigade. At the beginning there was Club President H3550 Murray Johnston, who challenged me to establish relations with the residual cadets at Campus Fort Saint-Jean following the closure of CMR in 1995. Over the years, this led to involvement in the eventually successful rapprochement efforts between the Club des anciens du CMR and the RMC Club. Of particular note in this regard, was the collaboration I had with 8765 Claude Tassé, a graduate of CMR who was concurrently a member of the RMC Executive Committee, President of the Club des anciens du CMR and President of the Rapprochement Committee.”

1957 RMC graduate well known for never being short of words went on to add. “Then there was the invaluable help received from the members of the Executive Committee and the Old Brigade Advisory Committee, which was crucial during the debates surrounding two important amendments to the Club’s Constitution; one to accommodate an Early Welcome into the Old Brigade on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of graduation of a class, if so desired by that class; and the other authorizing an Assistant Adjutant with coordination responsibilities at the recently reopened Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMCSJ).”

Al who has lived in Quebec City with his wife Cynthia for the past 53 years heaped praise on some other key people he has been associated,  within – the Club, the Foundation and College staff.  “The other two members of the Group of Three that instigated the Navy Bay Pavilion Project in 2005 (subsequently renamed the Birchall Pavilion) were key collaborators: 13731 Steve France, then Executive Vice-President of the Foundation, and Darren Cates, then and now Director of Athletics at the College. It almost goes without saying that none of the foregoing could have been accomplished without the unwavering assistance of S150 Peter Dawe, then the Club’s Executive Director, and his dedicated Panet House staff. Along these lines, there were also the ever-present interest and often inspired inputs from my wife, Cynthia, to whom I became engaged while still a cadet and who has been my constant companion ever since.”

The Class of ’57

“When all is said and done, it comes back to the Class of 1957, the first to graduate cadets from all three Colleges (Royal Roads, CMR and RMC), to which I am firmly anchored. It was classmate and friend, 3837 Bill Campbell, who initiated the process for the high honour I am now to receive from the College. I am indebted to him as well as to the officers of the Club and College staff who sanctioned Bill’s proposal.”

 (A full house is expected – to avoid disappointment, visitors are advised to arrive early)


Alexander (Al) Kelso Roberts was born in Toronto and attended Upper Canada College before entering RMC in 1953 as a reserve cadet. He studied Chemical Engineering and played on the senior football and junior hockey teams during his first two years as well as on the senior hockey team during each of his four years at the College. Al attained fleeting notoriety after being assessed the second RMC penalty in the history of the West Point/RMC hockey series!

Following his graduation from RMC in 1957, Al completed his BASc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto the following year, and then earned a MASc in Aeronautical Engineering in 1960 also from U of T. He then spent 25 years as a Defence Scientist at the Defence Research Establishment Valcartier, near Quebec City, before going into private industry for six years followed by 15 years as a R&D Consultant, almost all in the defence business. He is married to the former Cynthia Freeman and they have two sons and two grandchildren.

Al has been the Secretary of the RMC Class of 1957 since graduation. He was also active for many years in the Quebec City Branch of the RMC Club until, as President in 1984, he was forced to close it down due to a lack of members and stiff competition from the Club des anciens du CMR. After becoming a member of the RMC Club’s Executive Committee in 1996, and with the old CMR having been closed the previous year, Al met with the President of the CMR Club to negotiate formation of Rapprochement Committees for both clubs. Subsequent discussions resulted in a formal rapprochement agreement being approved in 2000. Al served as one of the four members of the RMC committee (the only one who hadn’t attended CMR!).

As a member of the Executive Committee, Al was appointed Club Liaison Officer with the Compagnie Fort Saint-Jean (later renamed l’Escadron Richelieu) located at the Campus Fort Saint-Jean, site of the former CMR. He held this position for six years (1997-2002), the last three as an ex-officio member of the Executive Committee. In 2001, Al was given the Club’s President’s Award for his work on rapprochement and with Richelieu Squadron.

In 2003 Al was appointed Adjutant of the Old Brigade, a position he held for the next seven years. Of particular note during his tenure were two constitutional amendments that he sponsored: one to accommodate an Early Welcome into the Old Brigade on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of graduation of a class, if so desired by that class; and the other authorizing an Assistant Adjutant with coordination responsibilities at the recently reopened Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMCSJ). In recognition of the latter, combined with his having developed an annual welcoming ceremony into the Old Brigade for ex-cadets of the former CMR at Campus Fort Saint-Jean, Al received a formal Mention élogieuse from the Commandant, RMCSJ in 2010 during Reunion Weekend there. He was named Adjutant Emeritus and made an Honourary Life Member of the RMC Club at its 2012 AGM.

He was also one of the Group of Three that instigated the Navy Bay Pavilion Project in 2005 (subsequently renamed the Birchall Pavilion).



Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken was born in Kingston, Ontario on November 12, 1946. He is the eldest of seven children to a physician father, and is a descendant of United Empire Loyalists. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics from Queen’s University (1968), a Bachelor of Arts (1970) and Master of Arts (1978) in Jurisprudence from Oxford University in England, and a Bachelor of Laws (1971) degree from Dalhousie University.

Called to the Ontario Bar in 1973, Milliken was a partner at the prestigious Kingston law firm, Cunningham, Swan, Carty, Little & Bonham, before entering political life. He also lectured on a part-time basis at the Queen’s University School of Business from 1973 to 1981, became a governor of the Kingston General Hospital in 1977, and has been a trustee with the Chalmers United Church. A fan of classical music, he has sung with the Pro Arte Singers and the Chalmers United Church Choir as well as serving on the board of the Kingston Symphony. He also often canoes, taking week long trips in northern Canada.

Milliken was first elected to Parliament in 1988 as the representative for Kingston and the Islands by defeating well known Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Flora MacDonald. Milliken would continue to serve as Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands until his retirement in 2011. He served on a number of important parliamentary committees and held numerous appointments in his early years on Parliament Hill but he is most notable for his role as Speaker of the House during the second half of his political career.

Milliken was first elected Speaker of the House in January 2001 and would continue to serve in that role for the next ten years. On October 12, 2009, he became the longest serving Speaker of the House of Commons in Canadian history. His Speakership was notable for the number of tie-breaking votes he was required to make as well as for making several historic rulings. Milliken also has the unique distinction of being the first Speaker to preside over four Parliaments. His legacy includes his landmark rulings on Parliament’s right to information, which are key elements of parliamentary precedent both in Canada and throughout the Commonwealth.

Mr. Milliken retired from politics in 2011 and was appointed to the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada on May 8, 2012, giving him the accordant style of The Honourable for life.

In May 2001, he received an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the State University New York at Potsdam, an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from Queen’s University at Kingston and McGill University in Montreal in 2012, and from University of Victoria in 2013. He currently acts as a special advisor to Cunningham, Swan, Carty, Little & Bonham and serves Queen’s University as a Fellow in the School of Policy Studies. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Military College of Canada, and an Honorary Patron of Choirs Ontario.


John Matheson Award for Academic Leadership

The Colonel the Honourable John Matheson Academic Leadership Award – The Academic Leadership Award was established upon the suggestion of Colonel, the Honourable John Matheson, to recognize outstanding leadership by a member of the RMC academic faculty in support of the objectives of the Royal Military College. This is the fourth year this award is being presented.

Professor Michael A. Hennessy

Since he was hired by the RMCC History Department in 1993, Professor Michael Hennessy has provided distinguished leadership at all levels within the College and has also served as a valuable ambassador for the College to the wider DND community.

A respected researcher and teacher in the fields of naval history, defence policy, strategy, and intelligence studies, Professor Hennessy has also held numerous senior leadership positions at RMCC, including Head of the History Department (2003-8), Dean of Continuing Studies (2007-12), member of the RMC Senate (2007-12), and Co-Chair of War Studies (20012-present). In addition, he has served on countless College committees, including the Cowan Prize in Research Excellence Committee, the Continuing Education Committee, and the Commandant’s Strategic Awareness Committee. His leadership can also be observed in a number of initiatives that he has undertaken at the College and in conjunction with the wider DND community. He has been a driving force behind the very successful Annual RMC European Battlefield Tour, serving both as co-organizer and as a guide. He also played a leading role in the creation of the Canadian Military Journal (serving as Chair of the Planning Committee and as the journal’s founding editor) and as Chief Civilian Project Manager managing the establishment of the CF Leadership Institute.

Professor Hennessy has also represented the College on many external committees, including the Inter College Committee, the Canadian Virtual University, and the Council of Ontario Universities Working Group on the Online Institute of Ontario Universities. He is currently the Principal’s Representative on the CDA Executive Working Group on Professional Military Education and Training. Between 2008 and 2012 he served as a member of the Board of Governors of St. Lawrence College.

It is notable also that Professor Hennessy has provided exemplary service to the wider CF and Government of Canada communities. In addition to helping design courses for Advanced Military Studies and the CF School of Intelligence, he served as Chair of Course Development for the J2-CSIS ad hoc Higher Education Committee and as a member of both the Partnership for Peace Consortium on Terrorism and the DND Directorate of Strategic Planning Operational Working Group on the Revolution in Military Affairs. More recently he served as the first external member of an RCMP intelligence review committee. In undertaking these many external leadership responsibilities, Professor Hennessy has been an excellent RMCC ambassador to other federal organizations.

Unquestionably, RMCC and DND are the better for Professor Hennessy’s leadership accomplishments and tireless commitment to service.

1 Comment

  1. Dick Patterson on November 5, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    Well deserved, Al. Congratulations from us. Dick and Kathryn Patterson

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