J.R.K. Millen and the #7 J.R.K. MILLEN Navy League Cadet Corps
Joseph Robbins Kinney Millen (J.R.K.), was instrumental in the formation of the Navy League Cadet Corps in Canada.
J.R.K. Millen was born about 1886 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to William Millen and Carrie D. Kinney. He was a professional in the Insurance field and started his career with the Insurance Department of Canadian Pacific Railways. He remained with the C.P.R for sixteen years before moving to Western Canada. Arriving in Winnipeg in 1921, he was associated with Osler, Hammond, and Nanton in the insurance department where he remained until his death.
Always interested in the well-being of and working with boys, he was an active official of the Knowles Boy Hostel (later named the Knowles School for Boys, and today known as the Knowles Centre), and interested in the work of the Sir John McDonald Hostel.
J.R.K. Millen’s involvement with the Winnipeg Navy Sea Cadet Committee started in 1924 and in 1926 he became Commanding Officer of the Corps. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s he personally helped many Cadets and ex-cadets find employment. During the Second World War he was responsible for the expansion of the Sea Cadet program. One of his responsibilities included being commissioned by the Canadian Government to co-ordinate all sea cadet corps in Canada and to build a proper relationship between the cadets and the Royal Canadian Navy. In the late 1940’s he was a member of the Navy League Committee responsible for creating what is now known as Navy League Cadets.
He was surprised on the evening of 25 May 1960 while attending the inspection of Navy League Cadet Corps #7, when Mr. R.J. Bicknell, National President , announced that the corps was now officially named N.L.C.C. #7, J.R.K. Millen.
A tireless and unselfish supporter of the youth of Canada, he continued as a senior member of the Navy League until his death. J.R.K. Millen died suddenly on 25 October 1962 at his residence in Winnipeg. His funeral service was held at Knox United Church with many Navy League members in attendance. He was interred at Brookside Cemetery. For J.R.K. Millen, the formation of the Navy League Cadet Corps in Canada was one of his greatest achievements.
Mrs. Violet Millen, his widow, passed away at Central Park Lodge, Winnipeg in September of 1975
– Adapted from J.R.K. Millen: A Brief History,compiled by Mrs Ann Jackson, 2009
In the beginning of the sea cadet movement the Navy League of Canada had sole responsibility of running the Sea Cadets. At that time the age of cadets ranged from 12 to 18 years. The Government took over the responsibility of running the Sea Cadets, and the age of admission was raised to 14 years, and then later dropped to 13 years.
J.R.K. Millen of Winnipeg and the Navy League thought that there should there should be a similar type of organization for younger boys between the ages of 12 to 14 years. The Navy League Cadets that were formed out of this idea later changed the age of acceptance to 11 and 13 years of age. Today the age of entry to Navy League Cadets is 9 years and cadets may continue the age of 12 years.
What was to become #7 J.R.K. Millen N.L.C.C. was formed 1 Jan 1954, and has been running continually since. The Navy League has been carrying out its youth movement for over 90 years. Under the leadership of public-spirited Canadians, the movement continued – first as the Boys Naval Brigade, then as the Navy League Cadets.
A similar type of corps was formed for girls of the same age, which was called Centennial Navy League Wrenette Corps in Winnipeg. Centennial Wrenette Corps continued until September 1997 when it was disbanded.
Today, both male and female cadets parade with #7 Navy League Cadet Corps J.R.K. Millen.
For a complete history of the Navy League of Canada go to:
Navy League Dates of Note 1895 – First Canadian Branch formed
1910 – Canadian Navy established
1914 – Recruiting and Welfare Services, World War I
1917 – First Canadian Boy’s Naval Brigade formed
1918 – Federal Charter approved establishing the Navy League of Canada
1923 – Boy’s Naval Brigade name changed to Sea Cadet Corps
1939 – Welfare Services, World War II
1941 – Canadian Navy became partner in the Sea Cadet movement
1942 – King George VI agreed to be Admiral, Royal Canadian Sea Cadets
1943 – Scholarship program introduced
1948 – Navy League Cadet program established
1950 – Navy League Wrenette program established
1995 – The 100th Anniversary of the Navy League of Canada
1997 – Last Navy League Wrenette Corps closed (NLWC Centennial in Winnipeg)