The Stone Frigate


A memoir from the first female cadet admitted to the Royal Military College of Canada.

Kate Armstrong was an ordinary young woman eager to leave an abusive childhood behind her when she became the first female cadet admitted to the Royal Military College of Canada. As she struggled for survival in the ultimate boys’ club, she called on her fierce and humourous spirit to push back against the whims of a domineering and patriarchal organization. Later in life, feeling unfulfilled in her post-military career, she realized that finding her true path forward meant she had to go back to the beginning and revisit the truth of what she had experienced all those years ago.


The Stone Frigate is a harrowingly honest account of one woman’s experience in the military. With unflinching wit and candour, Kate Armstrong forces us to look at the uncomfortable intersection between power and sexism and into the darkest corners of human nature. The result is an astonishing memoir – I couldn’t put it down.

Alison Pick, Booker-nominated author of Strangers With the Same Dream and Between Gods

This personal account by one of the first women allowed into Kingston’s Royal Military College – Canada’s West Point – is compelling not only for detailing the obstacles stacked against women in the military, but for revealing just how deep the duplicity, misogyny and deception can run from cadets through to top brass. Kate Armstrong’s story will resonate with any woman who has fought upstream against the dysfunctional systems that keep our corporations and institutions in the hands of a brittle, fear-driven, and corrupt patriarchy.

Trevor Herriot, author of Towards Prairie Atonement and Islands of Grass

The Stone Frigate is the fascinating, often painful account of Kate Armstrong’s attempt to fit in, to excel, to become ‘one of the boys’ at the elite Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. Her four years at the college were marked by sexism, humiliation, brutality, and courage. Armstrong is brutally honest with herself – her failure to have compassion with other female classmates, her desperate need for male approval, her desire to become ‘just one of the guys’. But this memoir is first and foremost a story of reconciliation, of learning to accept the past and realize that what she accomplished was extraordinary, especially in the face of so many who would have happily seen her fail.

Her experiences will resonate with all women who have, like Armstrong, attempted to fit into an exclusively male preserve. Her memoir is a convincing and moving read, one that everyone who has been alone in a misogynistic world will identify with.”

Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice, The Harem Midwife, and A Trial in Venice

Kate Armstrong's voice in The Stone Frigate is shockingly honest with gut-wrenching details that makes one desperate to stop reading, but which also compels one to keep turning the pages because this story is too important to ignore. The Canadian military has slowly veered away from some of the misogynistic traditions held dear back then by the Royal Military College, which Kate describes so eloquently in her memoir. Sadly, others are still deeply entrenched in the male-dominated culture of this institution today. The damage is undeniable. It's time for a hard right.

Major (retired) Sandra Perron, Globe and Mail Best Books author of Out Standing In The Field

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