Shared with permission from the Class of 1979 website: https://www.tdv79ers.ca/classmates/anecdotes/recruit-life/the-arrival
With thanks to 12149 Pete Avis
Cast your mind back – waaaaaayyy back to early August of 1975. It is a bright, sunny day in Kingston; the breeze off the lake is wafting across Point Frederick, past the Martello Tower, and across the football field. There is quite a crowd on the RMC parade square – what’s going on?
Remember, this was the mid-70s. On the car radio, during the drive down, these happy Canadian folks were listening to songs on the summer hit parade: “Black Water” (The Doobie Brothers), “Jive Talkin’” (Bee Gees), “Kung-Fu Fighting” (Carl Douglas), “Get Down Tonight” (K.C. and The Sunshine Band), and “One of These Nights” (Eagles). Once out of their cars, the families follow the signs toward the parade square – where the ghost of the College’s founding father, Prime Minister Mackenzie, glowers down at them from the tower of the majestic building named after him! The loving families have all come to carry out a modern-day patriotic ritual — escorting their teenage boys, now recruits (or “rooks”), into a walled compound to become scholars and military men of Canada!
The new recruits were still very civilian and portraying the society that brought them through their teenage years: longish hair, athletic bodies, plaid (oh dear!) baggie pants or bell-bottoms, cool platform shoes, sports shirts or some with jacket and tie – and very large glasses! Each recruit had a large trunk with everything they were told to bring on that first day of their four-year sojourn (they wouldn’t see the contents of the trunks for about two months – until they had passed into the cadet wing.) The trunks were set to the side of the flags that marked the groupings to which each recruit would be assigned. They would be picked up and transported to the dorms later.
Suddenly a group of fine, upright military cadets in fabulous scarlets dazzled the families with bright colours, precision drill, and loud commanding voices. They called the names of the recruits who would be in their respective groups or “Flights,” and formed them up. Their commands were dutifully obeyed by the rooks – well maybe not to a T, but they had all seen Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., after all! The welcoming squad courteously gave them initial instructions and a package of reading material. The older cadets were quiet and stern, not at all scary, as they welcomed the recruits. In the package was a lifeline called “The Cadet Handbook” which, once memorized, would save the youngsters miles and miles of “circles” … which they had yet to learn about.
Thus, it began…walking became marching; longish hair became brush-cuts; whiskers and moustaches became clean-shaven cheeks; sleeping-in became unknown; civvies became military uniforms and sports gear; and pillboxes found their way on to their newly-shorn heads! Wakey-wakey, morning runs, inspections, drill classes, doubling across the Square, marching to the cadet mess for meals (!), phys ed, drill, polishing boots and shoes, ironing, laundry skills, bed-making skills, Old Eighteen, RMC history and sites, aptitude tests, Additional Duties (ADs), circles, kye, bed. Never seen so many hours in a day!
They had arrived in a new land; the inhabitants taught them how to survive. By honing their new skills, they did well and came to thrive in their new home behind the stone walls on the Point of land just east of Kingston.