Portrait of William Dillon Otter as Lieutenant Colonel, 1900
William Dillon Otter as
Lieutenant Colonel, 1900

The old RCMI building at 426 University Avenue in 1935​
The old RCMI building at
426 University Avenue in 1935​

The Old RCMI building September 2005
The Old RCMI building September 2005.​

The New RCMI building September 2015.
The New RCMI building September 2015. 

Our History: Over 125 Years

The RCMI 1890 - 2016

The Royal Canadian Military Institute has its origins on January 30, 1890, in a small meeting of Militia Officers in Rossin House. The meeting took place at the behest of Lieutenant-Colonel William Otter, Deputy Adjutant General for Military District No. 2. LCol Otter understood that the Militia had to be transformed if it was to serve as the front-line defence for Canada. Rather than annual drills and band concerts, the Militia had to know about war, tactics, strategy and the changes that would soon make a modern battlefield unrecognizable to soldiers shaped by the images of Waterloo and the Crimea. Fifty Militia officers from Otter’s garrison attended this meeting, with every unit represented.

During the January 30th meeting, a plan to establish a member-based Institute was initiated, as was the separation between resident and non-resident memberships, with the latter allowing officers from units in other cities to be invited to join. On February 12, a name for the Institute was agreed upon: The Canadian Military Institute was born.

The name of the Institute was changed in 1946 to the “Canadian Officers’ Club and Institute.” The distinguished prefix “Royal” was granted by His Majesty King George V1 on the 23rd of June 1948, and the present title “The Royal Canadian Military Institute” was adopted at that time.

For 125 years, the Institute has focused on the promotion and fostering of military art, science and literature in Canada.

The Royal Canadian Military Institute heritage stands for something far greater than its members, officers and other component parts. It is a Canadian icon, a vital national institution, with an illustrious history, mandate and mission, unique in our country. It is a valued trust passed to us by our predecessors.

In 2014, after a four year redevelopment period, the Institute reoccupied its historic location in the heart of downtown Toronto. The new premises boast outstanding conference, lecture and function facilities, spacious accommodations, a state-of-the-art boutique fitness facility and unparalled dining. After more than a century at 426 University, we have returned and we look forward to sustaining our unique role in Toronto and Canada far into the future.

Read about our historic home, The Stones of 426 (in PDF format) a series of articles written by Hon Librarian Arthur Manvell in 2010-2011.

Royal Canadian Military Institute: 100 Years 1890-1990 by Ken Bell & Desmond Morton.

Read this book