With thanks to 5611 Gerry Stowe for providing the background story, and 12215 Dave Mowat for providing the original program
While touring the Campus last week my Colleague, Riley Jessup, and I were tasked with taking some photos of Brucie as he will be moved slightly from his current position in the coming weeks. In order to correctly see if the new positioning would work, MWO Richard Corneau, Infrastructures Coordinator, Royal Military College, was called upon to “strike his best Brucie pose”. We thought the Warrant did an excellent job as a stand in for Brucie!
That got us thinking…. how did this iconic statue come to life?
Our friend 5611 Gerry Stowe provided us with the following background.
The Royal Military College of Canada opened its gates to the first class of cadets, the “Old Eighteen”, on 1st June 1876. The RMC Club of Canada had commemorated the centenary of this event by the gift of a bronze statue depicting a cadet in ceremonial dress. The statue is a symbol of the century of service which the College has rendered to Canada and provides a reminder to successive generations of cadets of the qualities which are fundamental to the training and education of an officer for the Canadian Armed Forces – qualities which are summarized by the College motto, “Truth, Duty, Valour”. The work was executed by Mr. William McElcheran of Toronto.
One notable comment, which should invoke laughter from current cadets, was “More hair would be visually pleasing! After all, the Cadet depicted is a senior, long past the skin-headedness of a Recruit.” The photograph of the first sculpture could possibly have led to nicknames like “Old Baldy” or “Chrome Dome”, which are hardly inspiring. One very senior Ex-Cadet, visiting the College from the United Kingdom, was heard to remark, “I don’t recall ever seeing a gentleman standing in that pose”.
The statue has had its place in many College stories; ‘Brucie’ is known by that name to many since that Ex-Cadet Weekend of 1976, and the snack-bar in Girouard Building is known to the current generation as ‘Brucie’s’.
This also made us wonder, how many skylarks has Brucie been involved in over the past 46 years? From our research we discovered he has been caged in for his own protection, endured years of fashion abuses, painted all colours of the rainbow (including being painted with Kraft Dinner Cheese sauce- that’s a new one), had a concert named after him in his honour – Bruciepoolaza, acted as a stand in groom for more than one wedding party, been subjected to many atrocities from Queen’s nursing students, and last but not least had his picture taken with the Stanley Cup (Sorry Leaf’s fans).
We reached out to a number of ex cadets (who would like to remain nameless) to share their best (and funniest) Brucie Skylarks:
– Brucie had Red Scarlets painted on him, which actually looked pretty good!
– As I recall it, the recruits from Six Squadron “polished” a six (6) onto Brucie’s chest, which the rooks from Eight Squadron promptly turned into an 8. As this was just a few days before Ex Cadet Weekend, the punishment for this heinous act was to talk to the Chemistry (FAME) Department in order to find a way to “re-tarnish” Bruice and return him to his normal colour.
– A first year cadet (name omitted) was tied to the parade square lamp post beside Brucie who kept vigil and the Cadet had molasses and feathers thrown on him. College RSM made him pick up all his lost feathers.
– Cadet in 4 Sqn at the time recalls that it was one of the fourth year cadets from their squadron who got bored one Standdown weekend and was responsible for the “Brucie scarlets artwork”. he thinks there may have been a couple of others who helped him, but since he was a fourth year at the time, he was held responsible and may have lost his bars because of that.
– Dug hole near Brucie night before, in morning buried cadet with only head out looking serenely at Brucie. Metal garbage can and bat available to put over his head, bang the metal basket, yell wake up Brucie and donate funds to war amps or a child charity. We made a lot of money that morning!
– Cadet thrown semi dressed into mattress bag, there was a 5 am bus beside Brucie of Civ Eng guys going to CFs alert from Trenton and Cadet put in bud luggage bin. Hercules load master wouldn’t let writhing cargo on board and professor said he needed to stay or will fail since he was a bad student. He was returned to RMC, but still failed even with sups, and stayed for a victory lap for year 5. He blames me to this day but class of 83 was much nicer to him … perhaps.
-I recall Bruce being painted the exact colours of our dress uniform. This was circa 1977/78. I believe it was a Frontenac/#4 Squadron Skylark and I think JCL (last name omitted) was OIC of that caper. My recollection is that by order of the supreme command he had to scrape all the paint off with a toothbrush….I also remember that those involved had to take advice from classmate Chem Eng’ers to come up with a concoction to not only strip the paint, but to restore the statue back to its “aged” condition, to meet the expectations of the RMC Club who had recently donated Brucie to the college as a 100 year anniversary gift in 1976 to the college.