RMC was established by an act of the Canadian Parliament in 1874 "for the purpose of providing a complete education in all branches of military tactics, fortification, engineering, and general scientific knowledge in subjects connected with and necessary to thorough knowledge of the military profession." On June 1, 1876, the Military College of Canada opened its doors to the first class of eighteen cadets. The names of these "Old Eighteen" are memorised by all cadets today. In 1878, Queen Victoria, granted the College the right to use the prefix "Royal."
The College offers degrees in Arts, Science, and Engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Courses are offered both on site and by distance learning.
RMC is located on Point Frederick, a small peninsula at the point where the St. Lawrence River leaves Lake Ontario. The location has been an active military base since 1789 and was an important naval base during the War of 1812.