Images from 1921 document daily life of military college
The school changed names twice since Thomas Geoffrey Beament graduated in 1921. When his son Gerald studied there, it was called Royal Roads Military College and after 1995 it became Royal Roads University.
As times passed, those old photos Thomas snapped became an important historical record of the military college. In 1985 Gerald donated one of his father’s albums to the university’s archives.
The album resurfaced recently when it was brought to the attention of RRU Foundation’s senior officer Paul Longtin that a name was misspelled in a book on the school’s history. Because Thomas had meticulously handwritten captions identifying the people and places he photographed, Longtin checked the album for the correct spelling.
It occurred to Longtin that the book could be better used elsewhere. “Looking at the pictures, it was clear that this wasn’t something that belonged in our archive,” Longtin said. “The album is a piece of navel history.”
Last week the university gave the album to the Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum where the images will be digitized and wrapped in protective coating.
“The photos are in remarkably good shape,” said military museum curator Debbie Towell, carefully flipping the pages with cotton gloves on to avoid getting oil from her fingers on the pages.
She said the card paper album isn’t ideal for archival purposes because of the acid in the paper.
“If these pictures are going to last, they need to be properly stored.”
Dave Bindernagle, the last commandant of Royal Roads Military College in 1995, was eager to get a look at the photos.
“We military history buffs read about these commanders who lived here a 100 or 90 years ago, and now we can actually look at photos of them,” he said.
Towell said the album will be stored in the museum’s archives, but can be pulled out for people interested in seeing it.
Some of the photos may also be posted on the museum’s website in the coming weeks, www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org.