The Banks Clan (Editors Note) - The intriguing part about reunions and the like is that meeting classmates you have not seen since graduation creates an almost mystical frozen-in-time moment immediately preceding that reunification. Those memories are not just of that much younger college age physical version, but also that much younger persona, complete with optimism, and sense of adventure and mischievousness and admittedly a fair amount of “what the heck did I just get myself into”!   

12151 gary banks

12151 gary banks

We still vividly remember one of the military staff while on the parade square pausing and saying with genuine sincerity and encouragement “Look around you, at your recruit mates, because you are looking at the future leaders of the Canadian Forces”.  That made us all smile because our slowly developing foresight did not allow us that kind of visionary peek in to the future – we just saw each other as wet-behind-the-ears teenagers a little bit bewildered by all that was going on around us, caught like deer in the headlights – worrying less about thoughts of family and careers and more about whether we would just be able to make it through the day.     Likewise, we could not picture one another as fathers, made all the more inconceivable simply because back then we had no female colleagues; and no one was allowed to get married or have cars or wear anything other than the college uniforms.

Well, forty years later it turns out our classmates did become the leaders of the Canadian Forces and of universities and industry and they did become wonderful, proud and caring fathers.   A case on both points – turns out our very own Gary Banks proudly raised four daughters who have amazingly all followed in his footsteps and all gone to RMC.  Gary is quick to give most of the credit to his wife Chris for helping to care for and nurture all five Ex-Cadets, so much so that he took the liberty of assigning Chris her very own unique and telling Honorary College Number – H55555! BZ Gary and Chris and Margot and Lauren and Vanessa and Andrea! Their stories can be found below!



12151 Gary Banks RMC Class of ‘79

             Our story begins in the summer of 1974 in a Brampton, ON suburban bedroom with  young long-haired Gary tentatively digesting the brochures that his stereotypical Scottish Mom had researched towards pursuing a free education at the Royal Military College. Once the initial shock had subsided something clicked and somehow young Gary decided that this was something that he needed to do.  The rest is, as they say, is history.

 Four long years of extra inspections, circles and Apple Sigh, Rack & Kye and Gary “Baggo” Banks graduated from RMC for his first time, barely surviving PT Tests, Dress Inspections and Drill but cruising through academics with ease.

It took Gary just a year to lure Christine from Ottawa and Carleton University to Kingston and St Lawrence College. 1979 brought Graduation, Marriage and first posting as a CELE (Air) officer to the radar station at CFS Yorkton in Saskatchewan. Many postings followed along with an operational tour as Task Force Commander of Task Force Balkans (Op Bronze) in 2007. It was not until their first Ottawa posting though that Gary & Chris started the BanksFam Clan with Margot Catherine. A premonition of the future came when a friend noted that it was OK that Margot was a girl because they now took girls at RMC...


H55555 Christine Banks (nee Martens) RMC Class of ‘79 

(well not really but she sure does deserve it!)

             Moving to Kingston in 1976 to pursue a Diploma at St Lawrence College (oh, and Gary as well) Chris soon became a fixture at 5 Sqn events, so much so that she was considered by many to be an Honorary member of N Flight. For the next 37 years she made sure Gary was turned out properly, well fed and in the proper clothes and of course kept the home fires burning while he was deployed. This all pales in comparison to the real stripes she earned by producing four absolutely outstanding young ladies who have already served our country in Afghanistan, Qatar, Mozambique, Haiti, Kabul, Kandahar Air Field (KAF) and El Salvador and they are very far from being done yet!

                         Our four daughters have started their lives in very similar ways graduating from RMC with similar sets of tools at their disposal. Since marching through the Arch they are all utilizing those tools in very different ways. Margot is the Mother, Lauren is the Leader, Vanessa is the Visionary, and Andrea is the Athlete. We are all incredibly proud of each of them and every one of their many accomplishments. I suppose if Andrea does become a Doctor she might have to change her name!

22809 Margot Hirst nee Banks

22809 Margot Hirst nee Banks

22809 Margot Hirst (nee Banks) RMC Class of ‘04 

             Margot blessed the lives of Gary and Chris in 1982 in Ottawa and followed them, like she had a choice, from North Bay (Canadian NRHQ), Toronto (CFCSC - Staff College), Kinston (Post Grad RMC) and Ottawa (CFCC HQ). After enduring her Dad’s five year tour in Colorado Springs (NORAD HQ), Margot was finally sold on the Air Force! She then successfully applied to RMC, and was subsequently sworn in by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief (DCINC) NORAD early in ‘00.

            Following Graduation in Mech Eng as a CELE Officer Margot met Mike Hirst during CELE Phase Training and through postings to Kingston (CFJSR), Ottawa (CANOSCOM), Trenton (ATESS) and an operational tour at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan began working on their own HirstFam with Connor, Kaia, Brienne, Fiona and Rowan. Who knows...

Very Honorable Mention LCol Michael Hirst, Carleton University Class of ‘02.

I cannot confirm that Mike has ever set foot on the grounds of RMC; however, as the father of my grandchildren, the furthest extent of my bloodline, I must recognize Mike for his love, leadership and caring to my family. He is truly part of BanksFam Clan!

23415 Lauren Banks RMC Class of ‘06


            Lauren came along in 1984 and (not so) quietly listened to her Dad’s and sister’s reports of military life, in particular RMC. Women’s varsity volleyball, RMC band (conducting choir and playing snare in Pipes and Drums), and leading unsuspecting First Years as a Recruit Camp Section Commander (FYOP COMSEC) all would play a large part in Lauren’s impact at RMC.

            Lauren graduated Chem Eng in 2006 as a CELE Officer and has filled key leadership positions in Gander (9 WTISO), Winnipeg (A6 Deputy/IP/Cyber) and Ottawa (CFNOC DCO), as well as two operational deployments, at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan (as G6 Advisor to the Afghan Border Police (2011-12)) and in Qatar (as a part of US Central Command - CENTCOM CAOC Cyber Planner (2016-17)).  She is currently in Toronto (JCSP - Staff College) and is destined for greatness. In her spare time she is an up-and-coming Improv comedian and performs in many comedy shows and festivals.

23415 Lauren Banks

23415 Lauren Banks

26193 Vanessa Banks

26193 Vanessa Banks

26193 Vanessa Banks RMC Class of ‘14


            While studying Post Grad at RMC in 1992 Gary and Chris were once again blessed with another little girl. Vanessa tagged along to Ottawa, Colorado Springs and Winnipeg, but it was not until Army Cadets at Camp Borden that she found her stride. She loved all things Army and shortly thereafter enrolled at RMC as an Armoured Officer. I took my eye off the ball for one second! Well, she proved her mettle not only graduating with a degree in Honours Physics, but also with the academic crown for the tops marks in Honours Math and Physics.

            Vanessa would continue to surprise us by announcing in 2016 that she was going to release from the ARMD Corps and move to El Salvador as a Missionary. She had previously served as a Missionary on a volunteer basis in Haiti and Mozambique before and after her time at RMC. She is now serving as the Pioneer Coordinator for an international organization (Youth For Christ) in San Salvador. Military to Missionary! Vanessa works mainly with youth and kids, trying to bring hope to the dangerous but beautiful third-world country of El Salvador. She is the sole missionary and representative in El Salvador with Youth For Christ International (YFC), and she is trail-blazing the organization to make it an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the nation of El Salvador.

28225 Andrea Banks RMC Class of ‘20


            As one of the last babies born at the USAFA maternity ward in Colorado Springs, Andrea has been the baby of BanksFam, growing up during the twilight of Gary’s career and being afforded the luxuries of his retirement. After excelling in academics and athletics in Ottawa and with her dad and three sisters all having College Numbers, she had little choice but to answer the call. She did not disappoint, as she is currently in Fourth Year Chem Eng (academic star), and already has captain of the RMC Varsity Volleyball team, Recruit Camp Deputy CFL (FYOP DCFL), then First Year CFL and Precision Drill Team 2IC under her (shiny white) belt.

Andrea will pursue a career in CELE for now but will not likely be satisfied. Her future plans include applying to a Medical School under the Military Medical Training Program (MMTP) shortly after graduation in 2020.

28225 Andrea Banks

28225 Andrea Banks