This is correct, and the reason they used those keys was that it was the 'home row' on a typewriter which was used in teletypes which meant your little finger could push 'ctrl' and your right hand could drive the cursor through forms without moving off the home row.
When I saw the title I was expecting to see a picture of the rogue screen. Rogue (and later hack, and nethack) is a text displayed dungeon exploration game and was often the first exposure folks got to the convention of h,j,k,l as left right up down.
I really miss having control over there. I xkeymap it there of course but some keyboards have a physically 'push-on/push-off' caps lock key there which is annoying.
Count me in the school of thought that the control key is meant to be to the left of the A key, just like the horn button is meant to be in the center of a car steering wheel. Every computer keyboard I worked with before the advent of IBM PCs had this arrangement. Every computer I work with now I reconfigure to swap the caps lock with the control key.
It's a major frustration for me, too, as an Emacs user.
I'm still looking for a hardware dongle that does nothing but map the caps lock scan code to left ctrl. Sure, I can rebind the key (and I do) but as a contractor I move around a lot and having something that circumvents the OS entirely would come in handy.
I use a keyboard that has a similar layout to that in the images above (ctrl to left of A, tilde on home key at top right etc). It's called the Happy Hacking Keyboard and is made in Japan by a Fujitsu subsidiary: see here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Hacking_Keyboard. It's extremely expensive (~$300 or so) but has amazing key action and having gotten used to it I would never want to use anything else