I’m just back from a trip to my home province. While there I had the opportunity to check out my alma mater, Queen’s University at Kingston. I’m so glad I did. The last time I visited I came away feeling disappointed — so much had changed. This time, I had fewer expectations and came away elated. So much is still there!
The trees are gone from the boulevard but Grant Hall, the symbolic centre of the university still stands sentinel on University Avenue. Lucky me, it was open. This is the hall where my convocation ceremony took place.
Ontario Hall with its beautiful curving staircase was a favourite place for pictures when I was a student. There are matching wooden curved staircases inside. At one point there was a move to tear the place down as being too inefficient, but alumni sentiment proved stronger than money and this castle-like building graces the campus.
The student body is four times the number it was in my day, but their faces are still bright and eager and hopeful. We stopped at the student pub for a sandwich and chatted with the wait-staff, all students. They made my heart lift when they talked about school spirit and the importance of century old traditions. In our world that changes so fast — all my computer programs were updated while I was away — it is reassuring that things like duty and honour and public service still matter. This corner stone is dedicated to Sir Sandford Fleming, past chancellor.
Today’s students have chucked textbooks for ipads, and Google has replaced the dictionary, but the desire to seek knowledge is still there. The fresh-faced students taking the first steps toward their future, are still excited and glad to be at this institution.
This is the address where I worked for a few years after graduation. At that time it was part of the registrar’s office and a green, tin, temporary structure. Now it looks like this! But it still houses the admissions office.
I came away from my whirlwind tour of the campus with a smile on my face and a lift of the heart. For a few brief moments I relived the excitement of my first semester. I belonged to something good and grand. I was part of a tradition. I’m still part of that tradition. Cha Gheill — College of the Queen forever!