Entry Criterion for the Old Brigade


Bill Broughton: 22 Dec 07

With regard to the issue of entry into the Old Brigade, I believe a related problem also needs to be addressed; namely, how the traditional roll call is done.

It was quite clear at last fall’s Old Brigade dinner that the entry class of 1961 was visibly upset that they were “forced” to rise in two groups during the roll call.  And I must say that I felt that our own class was done a disservice as well.  To see about one-quarter of our class rise with just two from the class of ’56 (Charlie Simonds and Murray Johnson, two gentlemen in whom I have deep respect) and not rise with the rest of our class was rather disconcerting.

There was a time when the roll call was done by class of entry for the years until RMC closed, and then by graduation class for the years after it was re-opened.  With that procedure, the foregoing problem of splitting classes did not occur.  Perhaps the change  happened as a result of the postwar classes entering the Old Brigade, since the Old Brigade entry currently occurs based on year of entry.  But the change has given rise to the split class problem starting with our year. Clearly from Al’s letter, many classes do not like it.  At the time when Al wrote on the issue, Denny was right to say that eventually it will go away – but that was before the announcement to re-open CMR.  So now it won’t go away unless there is a change.

(As an important aside, I make this split class observation apart from the five year repeaters who should forever be allowed to choose their preferred class of association, or both if they so desire.  It’s basically a CMR prep year question, so someone like Bill Lynn may wish to express a CMR view of rising with 56ers instead of  with 57ers.)

I believe that the combined problem of entry into the Old Brigade and the roll call issue must be fixed together. And I would not like to see the roll call abandoned.

In conclusion, there are several possible solutions that have been offered.  I would support any of them so long as it is based on “the year the ex-cadet did, or would have been scheduled to graduate.”  That is to say, the primary factor must be the cohesion of class reunions.

Charlie Kingston: Class of '56; 18 Dec 07


Norm Freeman: Class of '56: 18 Dec 07

The Constitution actually says that: "If 50 or more years have elapsed from the year of entry into a Canadian Military College, a person eligible for ordinary membership shall become a member of the old brigade."
Phil's suggestion is a most simple and easy way to handle this issue (non-issue) - even simpler than Bill's suggestion. But I don't think it will satisfy those who want to change to the 45-year of graduation proposal.

Austen Cambon: Class of '54: 18 Dec 07

From the voluminous responses on this issue it is clear methinks that "Staus Quo - NO CHANGE" is the overwhelming desire of our many classmates who weighed in. I trust that message has gotten through and that it will be heard.
Incidentally, I am not amongst those who might think that this matter is "not a big deal".  There has been a lot of passion expressed by those of us who still believe in tradition and that tradition should be respected.

Phil Smith: Class of '58: 18 Dec 07 (his response to Phil Antonsen)

Your suggestion is sensible and pragmatic; and thus doomed to failure. I like it.

Phil Antonsen:Class of '61:18 Dec07

Again on the issue/non-issue of entry into the old brigade.  I've had  a reply from Norm Freeman but nothing from anyone else so thought I'd try one more time.
As I see it this is a NON ISSUE.  The constitution says 50 yrs must pass before you can enter the old brigade.  Believe it does not specify when you choose to enter the old brigade.
All entrants can be accommodated on entry by changing the welcoming wording used by the Adj.   If the wording is changed to "How many recruits/ex-cadets from (the college) are celebrating their entry into the old brigade this year"  it accommodates all who choose to celebrate their entry at this particular time.   No change to the constitution is required.

Bill Lynn: 17 Dec 07

I acknowledge Norm's support of the proposal that OB entry be 50 years after entry to First year. Unfortunately, I now realize that this proposal fails to address the objective that the year of OB entry coincide with a normal class reunion year, which I understand upcoming classes consider important and seems like a practical objective.
That objective is met by options 2 and 3, which effectively make OB entry 49 years after entry to First year or 50 years after entry to Preparatory year. (Option 3 would have to be worded to apply only to First year entrants, otherwise the class cohesiveness issue would remain.)
As I may have mentioned before, I have two concerns with these options:
a) At a time when our life expectancy is some ten years longer than it was when the Old Brigade was formed, and when we are concerned by the growing number of Old Brigade members, reducing the entry age would seem to be the wrong way to go.
b) In the year of transition, two classes would join the Old Brigade.
One alternative that has been suggested is to make Old Brigade entry 50 years after graduation (54 years after entry to First year or 55 years after entry to Preparatory year).
This would reduce the numbers problem and would eliminate the two class entry situation. However, the transition would result in a period of four years when no one would enter the Old Brigade. I have not come up with a way to make a gradual transition to this criterion, but it would seem to be a better long-term solution.
If we can produce an elegant solution to these issues, which are admittedly of trivial importance in a global context, then perhaps we can consider ourselves competent to tackle more pressing problems like Afghanistan or the environment.
As Al has suggested, maybe inspiration will strike with the help of some egg-nog during the festive season.

Norm Freeman (Terrible Class of '56) in reply to Bill Lynn's proposal below: 17 Dec 07

I had previously responded on a personal note to you that I support your modification of the existing criterion for Entry to the OB.
Based on the substantial number of responses I have received on this issue, I feel confidant that the Class of '56 would support your proposal.
FYI, from response to date, 37 Class of '56 Members support the Status Quo; 3 support the 45 years of graduation proposal; and 2 agree with the "fudge" option.
Our Class position is that the current criterion of 50 or more years after Entry, is sufficiently flexible to accommodate the CMR Preparatory Year Cadets.
Your proposal reflects the importance of a 50-year Anniversary and maintains a meaningful tradition. I have many more supportive comments on behalf of the Status Quo but will not discuss them here. Possibly this change could be handled without an Amendment to the Constitution - the latter requiring a vote of all RMC Club Members. My reading is that this is NOT a decision the Club's EC can make on its own.
As Charlie had said in an earlier e-mail, this subject has consumed a lot of time and effort.
My question for Al Roberts is: Where do we go from here? In partial answer to my own question, I suggest that the OBAC should formulate a position for Al to submit to the Club EC. This is in line with the Class of '56 position stated in response to the OB Governance paper that the OBAC should be a decision making body on behalf of the OB.

Bill Lynn: 15 Dec 07

I should like to re-submit the proposal to modify the constitution so all ex-cadets enter the Old Brigade 50 years after entry to First year (51 years after entry to Preparatory year for those who fail to advance to First year).
Status quo for all RMC & RR entrants and for those who entered CMR in First year.
One year delay (compared to the current situation) for those who entered Preparatory year (many of these entrants wait to join with their classmates in any case).
Maintains the philosophy that all entrants become Old Brigade members.
Avoids the necessity to define who is in a class, as required by the 45 years after graduation criterion.
Avoids double class entry in the first year of the 45 years after graduation criterion.

Don Coulter: 11 Dec 07

Change entry to the 45th year of class graduation. However, time will take care of the CMR Graduate problem - I can wait.

Peter Kirkham: 07 Dec 07

Perhaps I have missed the point. I must admit I haven't read Al's missive in detail. Nevertheless, why are we, the Class of 57, so exorcised by this issue.
Surely the "problem" is now passed in our case.
Classes about to enter the Old Brigade, or those coming up for eligibility, in my opinion, are the ones who should be engaged on this issue.
If we, as individuals or as a Class, are proffering advice to these groups, "because of our advanced years and accumulated wisdom", that is one thing.
However, if we think we should have a "vote", I question our collective view of this matter. One could, I suppose,  make the argument that we are protecting the integrity of the old brigade by voting for the "best" solution, but this position strikes me as a little strained, given the diminishing importance being given to this entity, as its numbers increase.

I think AKR sees this as a problem to be solved by the existing OB and is soliciting a broad range of opinion from many classes.  Our opinion may not count for much and, besides, we're far from unanimous.  Ed

Doug Gilpin: 07 Dec 07

I vote for Constitutional change to Option #2, provided the change includes a broad definition of membership in a "Class", i.e. to include those who left early for whatever reason. Many became friends of the graduates for life, and they know what it meant to be recruits at RMC. We came from an era when perhaps 40% of the entry group were still around for graduation; I recall that some didn't make it primarily because <5 hours sleep simply wasn't sufficient. Also, make the constitutional change required so that clarity exists for the long term. There may be other structural changes to the Military at some time, and we might as well provide for them.

Jim Howes: 06 Dec 07

I foresee  potential problems with Option 2: it makes  no provision for "drops" who did not graduate, nor does it make provision for the naval exec branch types who left the college at the end of their second year.

Ian Isbester: 05 Dec 07:

I received the material on the debate on entry to the old Brigade on both the '57 and '58 nets so I am doubly informed and therefore doubly confused.  I am most of all left to wonder if there are not more important matters to debate than this issue but I will throw in my comment for what it is worth. 
I am one of those who were "invited" to try the long tour at the college, spending three years with those who entered in 1953 as class mates and two with those who entered in 1954.  And as I recall there were a goodly number of entrants who, for one reason or another never did graduate, often leaving after one, two or three years.    I can recall Col sawyer, in first year, saying to take a look at the person on each side of you as it was likely that only one of the three would graduate.  As but one other example there are the naval cadets who took the first two years at RR or RMC (whether they took the first two years of academic training in two years or three is just another complicating factor) and then shifted over to the UK to complete their education.
The really further complicating factor in this debate was and is the introduction of the extra start up year at St Jean.  How you put all this together so that no feelings are hurt will require the skills of a half dozen lawyers and a dozen folks with some 'political savvy' - not to ignore those skilled in the fields of interpersonal relations.  The way to potentially resolve this is not clear but I wonder if it is a matter of stress on recognizing graduation or stress on recognizing some degree of "commitment" to what the colleges have to offer which should be the driving factor. 
Regardless, as has been noted, we are already in the old brigade, for which the main criterion seems to been to to live long enough.

Glenn Giddings: 05 Dec 07

I recommend selection of option#2 i.e. change the O.B constitution to read "45 years from graduation"

Sam Perrin: 04 Dec 07

My "vote" goes to Option 2, with the proviso that suitable wording can be drawn up to clearly define 'Membership" in a class.  In my opinion, this is a long overdue change, and it needs to be done.

Denny Boyle: 04 Dec 07

I strongly support the "Year of Graduation" concept in principle for many of the reasons spelled out below, even though I am Navy and never really graduated as such from the Royal Military Colleges system.  I would however suggest it be either the 40th or 50th year of graduation, with a strong preference for the 40th year, as 45 seems to be a very strange choice given what all other Universities and Institutions tend to do.  If we are going to think outside the box and make a change which will be difficult to change again for many years if ever, let us please think outside the box!
If we do change to the "Year of Graduation" concept, we must also ensure there is a firm accommodation for those like myself who never graduated as such from RMC, which includes as you know the large majority of naval graduates before about 1960.  I understand this is one of the main reasons "Year of Entry" was chosen in the first place long before CMR even existed, to present the OB with the current problem.  Besides most of us won't be around that much longer anyway.

Don Gregory: 04 Dec 07

Our diligent secretary and OB Adjutant has re-opened the (what appears to be) never ending argument about entry in the OB.  As  a "five year plan" cadet and member of two classes I made my choice in '07 to join the OB with my Class of '57 mates.  I also retain membership in the class of '56, which I appreciate.
At the time of OB joining - technically in '06 - I thought about it and, for me, the decision was to wait a year and enter with '57 because I had spent most of my College days with them.  Don MacCaul ('56) had asked me the question of what year I would elect to join and when I gave him my answer his reply was, "Good, go where your heart is". 
That quote sums up my feeling on the whole issue.  We do most everything as a class, i.e. year of graduation, and from my perspective that is right and proper.  The fact that I entered RMC a year earlier than others does not enter into it.  I spent four years with the Class of '57.
I believe that Al's suggestion that we just interpret the rule more broadly and leave it to the individual to decide is the good old Canadian way of compromise and in this case I think it is a reasonable solution.  Some members of "our" class chose to enter the OB in '06 and that, too, is perfectly OK since they had their valid reasons for doing so.  In effect, then, we were interpreting the rule as we wished.  There is far too much weight put on this entry thing and obviously classes in the '60s are upset about it.  Before WW II the College was a different place in a different time.  The OB was a very exclusive organization that has now grown because of the increased class sizes and the additions of the other two colleges post war.  I agree that, to me, the important connection is with "my" class, and I try to attend those functions.  If we stop arguing and let things settle out as Al suggests in his letter, I believe we can get on with our lives and still contribute meaningfully to the College(s) through our class efforts as in the past.
Here endeth the lesson.

Jeep Fortier: 04 Dec 07

Here are my thoughts on Al's request for our take on when ex cadets should enter the Old Brigade.
As you know, the OB is getting very large and has become difficult to manage. I think the # 50 is the key. Eligibility should be 50 years from graduation. This would fulfill the need for change. I would even go further to suggest that OB members that reach 60 years since graduation be installed in the "senate" of the old brigade and be called the "Senators".

Len Pitura: 04 Dec 07

For the sake of preserving harmony I am holding my nose and voting for option [3].One good outcome from this is the apparent "keen" interest in the college by the "rebellious" classes

Tim Ryley: 04 Dec 07

I like Option 2 as it is the most liberal of the three. We should avoid sneaky solutions.

WIH: 03 Dec 07:

One point, not mentioned, is that a shift to 45 years from graduation will result in two classes that will gain entry to the O.B. in the same year. Given the size of these classes, added to the existing size of the Old Brigade, I think a lot of downstream thinking needs to be done, and explanations given, about how the traditional O.B. dinner will be organized and catered, and what effect this change will have on participation by the existing membership. The criterion for entry is not a standalone problem but part of a small group of interrelated issues that we seem loathe to seriously address. The result could well be that the O.B. dinner will be restricted to new members only, plus OBAC, class secretaries, and a few college officials. Personally, I would have no quarrel with that result.

Will "45 years from Grad." include those who entered but failed to graduate for a large number of reasons; Navy, medical, academic, discipline, etc.? Do those who failed a year still decide which class they prefer for entry to the O.B.?

Finally, there is little basis for a  comparison between RMC alumni and civilian university alumni. Classes of RMC graduates are (generally) better organized, involve significantly fewer numbers but achieve remarkably high turnouts for reunions. "Grad '58" from U of T will involve invitations to ~75 from Chem. Eng. alone, in a very large Faculty of Applied Science, in an enormous body of total graduates. University classes simply never achieve the cohesion that comes from living together in a small, highly organized and disciplined student body.

Jerry Valihora: 03 Dec 07:

I  would be happy to see either of the following two options adopted to suit the classes that are coming up for Old Brigade status.  The choice should be for the approach that is easiest and quickest to implement, and that would suggest option 3.

It seems such a small change to keep the support of classes; I am all for it.

AKR's Email of 03 Dec 07

As I indicated in my message to you dated 02 November ('No Rest for the Wicked!'), there is a very strong movement (just short of rebellion) by a number of classes to change the criterion for entry into the Old Brigade from 50th year of entry into a military college to 45th year of graduation.  The reason for this is to have entry based on classes, which are really the backbone of the Club.  Considerable pressure has already been placed on the Executive Committee to act, including inputs from the Foundation because some classes are balking at donating to the Foundation upon entry into the Old Brigade.  In fact, some classes are indicating they aren't really interested in the OB, but only concerned with their own reunions.
At the heart of this, I think, are three factors:
(1)  Maintain the five-year cycle of reunions;
(2)  Classes want to stay together, rather than have their CMR component reach Old Brigade eligibility before the Royal Roads and RMC components do (i.e., the CMR guys would all come to Kingston for the 45th year of graduation reunion).
(3)  Class identity or cohesiveness is, in some instances, thought to be the best way to express the desire for change.  As one member from a mid-60s class, who typifies the position of those who feel that the justification goes well beyond simply maintaining the five-year cycle, wrote rather eloquently:  "...the strength of the Club, Foundation and support to the College is dependent on the strength of the classes.  Class solidarity generates support for the others and, at least for our class, the class as defined as year of graduation comes before anything.  Our class support of the Club and Foundation comes from our cohesion.  This is not unique to RMC, as any university, staff college or high school alumni organization knows.  Anything which divides the classes is detrimental to the Club, Foundation and support for RMC."
At the EC meeting at the end of September there was very strong support that a change be made (in fact, the new President of the Club is a member of one of the classes pushing for a change and he, himself, is a strong supporter of the change).  The issue is seen as very divisive and that is something we do not want to see in the Club.  For example, of the 84 members of the Class of 64 that voted on this issue, 82 were in favour of changing to the 45th year of graduation for entry into the Old Brigade.  On the other hand, there are some, maybe many, who support the status quo and they should be respected as well. 
With this in mind, I suggested that we might be able to 'fudge' the issue in a way that might satisfy all (hopefully!).  Section 14.2 of the Club's Constitution states:  "If fifty (50) or more years have elapsed from the year of entry into a Canadian Military College, a person eligible for ordinary membership shall become a member of the Old Brigade."  Thus, in its most liberal interpretation, the 50 years elapsed could be construed as having being met on 01 January of the 50th year from graduation (i.e., not 50 years from date of entry in September).  With this interpretation, then, the Club can simply decide that the celebration of entry into the Old Brigade take place three months early at the time of the 45th year of graduation reunion.  There is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent the Club from making such a decision.
In this way, it would not be necessary to change the Constitution, the five-cycle of class reunions would be respected, and anyone not comfortable with being associated with a particular class (e.g., those who didn't graduate, those who failed a year and are thus associated with two classes) can always fall back on a stricter interpretation of the 50 years elapsed since entry.
At this time, the EC is considering three options:
(1)  Status quo - no change - one enters the Old Brigade formally as an individual after the passage of 50 years from year of entry.
(2)  Change the Constitution to state that ex-cadets are eligible to enter the Old Brigade 45 years after graduation (there would need to be more words here to define precisely who is included in a class).
(3)  Leave the Constitution unchanged, but authorize members of classes to celebrate their entry into the Old Brigade three months before their eligibility (i.e., they would be welcomed into the Old Brigade at the time of their 45th year of graduation reunion.
I will terminate by saying that the classes that are in favour of change (they include at least the Classes of 64, 65, 66, 68, 69 and 72) will mount a constitutional challenge if Option (1) is adopted by the EC.  I am virtually certain that the EC will not choose Option (1).
Your comments, please.  The EC is holding back on this issue because I asked for time to consult with the OBAC.  Time is short because it may effect reunion classes as early as next year.
Many thanks for your dedication to the Old Brigade.  We (the Old Brigade and the Club) seem to have many issues to address and it is good that we have a body such as the OBAC to broaden the range of inputs.


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