Although Royal Roads University is one of British Columbia's newest public universities, it is steeped in West Coast history. The university's main building, Hatley Castle, was completed in 1908 for coal and rail baron James Dunsmuir, who was Premier and Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia during the first decade of the 1900s.
After the death of James and then his widow Laura, the family sold the estate to the federal government in 1940 to be used by the military. HMCS Royal Roads (named after an offshore naval anchorage) was commissioned in December 1940 to train reserve officers for service in World War II.
The institution had several names before it eventually became Royal Roads Military College in 1968 (achieving full degree-granting status in 1975). Budget constraints prompted the closure of the military college in 1995 and the 565-acre property was leased to the provincial government to be used as an education facility.
The Royal Roads University Act was passed by the Government of B.C. June 21, 1995, creating an innovative 21st century university in a traditional 19th century setting.
The Granting of Coats of Arms by the Governor General of Canada is an honour from the Canadian Crown. The Coat of Arms presented to the University incorporates a number of symbolic traditions linking the University to the heritage property it now occupies and to the history of the Province of British Columbia.
Of particular interest is the motto of the University, "Living our Learning", which captures the spirit and enthusiasm of this institution. Translated into West Coast Salish, it recognizes the proud traditions of those who have come before us.
Here's a brief explanation of the symbolism of RRU's Coat of Arms:
- The three maple leafs represent Canada, the three founding peoples of Canada, three philosophical underpinnings of Royal Roads University (sustainability, Leadership, and Learning), the former Royal Roads Military College's motto, "Truth, Duty, and Valour", and the three branches of the military recognizing the proud tradition of academic excellence and leadership of the former military college;
- The castle turret represents Hatley Castle and the legacy of the Dunsmuirs,
who built it;
- The book represents lifelong learning.
In the shield:
- The sun represents the BC flag symbol;
- The stone represents Hatley Castle;
- The cougar represents this indigenous Vancouver Island animal;
- The dragon represents Synqua, the West Coast Salish creature of thunder, strength, and power;
- The crown and anchor represent Royal Roads, the navy's anchorage off the Esquimalt Lagoon;