In 1919 after the First World War, The Great War Veterans’ Association, (GWVA, now the Royal Canadian Legion) and United Services Institutes were formed with branches throughout Canada. In Regina, Brigadier-General Alexander Ross called a meeting of officers living in Regina, and eighty attended to form a United Services Institute. The United Services Institute of Regina was modeled on the Royal United Service Institute for Defence and Security Studies located at Sixty-one Whitehall in London, United Kingdom. Brigadier-General Ross was elected Honourary President and Brigadier-General Embury was elected President.
Brigadier-General, His Honour, Alexander Ross, O.C., Q.C., C.M.G., D.S.G., LL.D., one of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie’s Brigade Commanders at Vimy in 1917 who stormed the Ridge. For his war service he was made a companion of the Distinguished Service Order with bar, a companion of the most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, and was 7 times mentioned in dispatches. On demobilization he commanded Military District No.12 until September 1, 1920. In 1921 he was appointed Judge for the Judicial District of Yorkton, a position he held until 1955. He passed away in 1973.
At the outset of the Institute in 1919, The Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, Sir Richard Lake, donated the sum of $25.00 to assist in its establishment. Membership for individuals was set at $2.00 annually. Membership was originally limited to persons who served with commissioned rank in the Canadian Forces, but at present membership is open to any person who supports the objects of the Institute.
The original Royal United Services Institute was formed in 1831 at the initiative of the Duke of Wellington for the study of what Clausewitz called “the art of war”. The Royal United Services Institute of Regina (RUSI) continues this tradition in promoting understanding of Canadian Defence Policy and supporting the Canadian Forces through information events. The RUSI is a member of the Conference of Defence Associations of Canada which is the major independent body that provides examination, study and commentary on defence issues in Canada.
After World War I, it became a pressing necessity to erect a suitable facility to house the eight militia units in Regina. An “Armoury Association” was formed with members of the Institute playing an important role in the Association. Lobbying with the Dominion Government was successful, and in due course an arrangement was concluded with the Department of National Defence that saw the commanding officers of the Regina militia units sign a financing agreement for construction of the armoury by the Armoury Association. The loan was discharged through annual rent paid for ten years by the Department of National Defence, and upon discharge of the loan, title to the armoury was transferred from the Armoury Association to the Crown.
The Regina Armoury, completed in 1929, included generous space for an officer’s mess. The Regina Garrison Officers’ Mess requested that the Institute take over the day-to-day operation of the mess, and a special agreement was concluded allowing this. From 1929 to 2013, the Institute has operated the Regina Officers’ Mess under an agreement that was renewed in 1948, and 2006. These agreements have all provided that Institute members shall be associate members of the Mess, and all serving officers of the Mess shall be full members of the Institute.
Following World War II, the number of demobilized officers increased substantially, and the Institute and the Mess moved to quarters comprising approximately 12,000 square feet adjacent to the Armoury. Following a fire in 1964, the mess was extensively rebuilt. The Institute received the designation “Royal” in 1979. The Institute and Mess maintain a collection of numerous scrolls, memorabilia, books and publications, as well as paintings and pictures of historic interest.