On Wednesday afternoon I walked onto campus as an undergrad for the last time. Appropriately, I spent it much like I spent some of my first days as an undergraduate: standing in line at the Bookstore. The difference between now and then is that this time I wasn’t waiting, textbooks in hand, with my credit card ready to take a beating. This time I was waiting to pick up my degree and the green and black robes that I would wear to my convocation. On Wednesday I walked into the Jubilee a student and walked out of it an alumnus.
I’ve had the idea to go digging through the Evergreen and Gold yearbooks for a little while now. I first became familiar with the yearbooks in a history class in my third year. The class took turns flipping through the aging pages and laughing at all the silly fashion and odd moments in Albertan history. This time I when I ventured into Rutherford to look through the books, it wasn’t for a class and it wasn’t even as a student. Rather it was as a recent grad and as one more member of a long lineage of U of A alumni. As I flipped through the yearbooks, I felt myself transported back almost a century. Though I never set foot in the campus of 1921 or never talked to the valedictorian of 1933, I felt as though I was a part of a history that I never actually lived. I hope a few of the selections that I’ve chosen will inspire you and make you feel proud to be even a small part of a long history.
“The Evergreen and Gold has now become a feature of our University life,” wrote Henry Marshall Tory to the graduating class of 1926. “We look forward to it not because we have each year to write a word for it but because it has become a real expression of the things for which the University stands and as such is now a part of our history.”
88 years ago the U of A’s first president rightly identified the timelessness of the Evergreen and Gold yearbooks that began publication in 1921 and capture snippets of the the University’s long legacy. I looked at yearbooks in the first 15 year in order to get a sense of what students and campus were like in 1921. The odd thing is that despite the almost century between our graduations, the spirit of their words and experiences still carries on today.
“Some of us may wish we still could linger in these college halls, drinking at the fount of knowledge: for there are so many things we should like to find out about, so many wells into which we have not dropped a single bucket. But we cannot take from the world and give nothing in Exchange. We have been fed and watered, and it becomes to us to bear fruit.”
-George S. Field, Valedictorian 1929
Most of the yearbooks featured an address from one of the university staff and a valedictory message, each of which contained wisdom and final thoughts on a graduating class. Some of them highlighted events that have since been long forgotten but many of them contained gems that are timeless and are just as salient now as they were decades ago. I chose two addresses from our first president and two especially timeless messages from graduating students. In particular, I chose Chris Jackson’s depression-era address from 1933 because its message parallels so many of the anxieties that this and future graduating classes may hold about their place in their world and their entry into an uncertain economic future. I hope the wisdom and sentiment of these messages reach you in a way that transcends the many years between you and the writers.
|"Another college term has come and almost gone, and for most of Class '29 it will be the last. No longer shall we spend pleasant hours in out subterranean stack-room, quietly reading in its dim seclusion; no longer shall we dash madly from the Arts to the Medical Building, late for a lecture due to one of the daily jams at the entrances; no longer shall we gossip gaily in the Arts rotunda, or in the event of a major dance in the offing, spend our time frenziedly booking dances. We have only a few more cups of tea at the "Tuck" to drink, only a few more common-room arguments to engage in, and only a few more lecture bells to heed. For four or more years we have been treading these halls; we have seen classes come and other classes go, and now we too have come to the parting of ways.|
We have reached a critical milestone in out lives, and a moment to two spent in retrospect might not be amiss. As we are about to receive our much-coveted degrees, we sometimes wonder what the motives were that caused us each to register as Freshman a few short years ago - what were our hopes and aspirations, and in how far have they been realized!
Some, doubtless, came to obtain a better appreciation of the beauty and depth of great literature, the grandeur of philosophy, and the wonders of natural science; some came to acquire a foundation in one of the professions; others, in order to see if college life was all that they had read it to be; and perhaps still others with no particular object in view. Of those mentioned the motive most common would undoubtedly be that of obtaining the necessary training for a certain definite career, for even the Arts faculty is made up largely of people who are concentrating on some particular branch of learning with the intention of making it their life's work.
However, whate'er the motives that brought us here, I wonder if we have quite the satisfied feeling that in our junior years we thought we should have when that great event of our lives - graduation - drew near. I doubt no that we all have some feeling of satisfaction, and rightly so; for although the path we have travelled has now shrunk enormously from the long lane it appeared a few short years ago, it represents at least a step in the right direction. But I also doubt not that note of us are satisfied that he has scaled the heights; none of us thinks that he has reached a plateau (so to speak) of knowledge, from which he may look smugly down. Rather we are on...."
"... the side of a long, long hill - just over the first rise, but ahead of us an endless trail reaching up to the skies and losing itself in the misty distance.
Some of us may wish we still could linger on in these college halls, drinking at the fount of knowledge, for there are so many things we should like to find out about, so many wells into which we have not dropped a single bucket. But we cannot continue to take from the world and give nothing in exchange. We have been fed and watered, and it becomes us to bear fruit.
There are others who are already anxious to be away, and to put into practice some of the theories which they have learned at college. They want to get out and do things, and feel that they too are taking their places in the world's affairs. They feel that their years of study will enable them to make something of themselves, and their cry is, "Time is flying. Let us get away and get into action."
If we could see our way over again, we might have put out a helping hand to that new student, who perhaps would have profited by our experience if we had offered our friendship. But in the words of Longfellow:
"Look not mournfully into the past, - it comes not back again;
Wisely improve the present, - it is thine;
Go fourth to meet the shadowy future without fear
And with a manly heart."
This is the spirit with which we ought to graduate, and with the poet's high hope push out into the sea of life. No matter now that yesterday a golden chance slipped by. Others will come, and these it is that count for today.
In spite of what we may have missed, we all have profited in some measure from our associations of the last few years - we have come in contact with men of wide experience; men who have come from distant places, and who have spent years in other countries. We have been enabled thereby to obtain a flash of what lies beyond our own horizon to realize that there is something in the brotherhood of men. We have been taught to be tolerant of the other men's opinions, and to be the at least willing to give some new thing earnest consideration, for
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good sutom should corrupt the world."
We have had some introduction to the great thinkers of previous ages, and we have learned in some degree how to tap the world's store-house of knowledge. And the way we have to go is clear before us.
If we can pass on to others some of the beauty we ourselves have glimpsed, some hint of spiritual radiance revealed in a blessed moment; if we can keep self from being too much the foreground of our lives; and can make some spot on the earth just a bit better off for our having lived thereon; then we have made, in part, return for the four years here which we have been privilaged to enjoy.
As we are about to say farewell to the University, I wonder if we are also about to say farewell to that nebulous thing known as "college spirit." While it is doubltful whether most of us know exactly what we mean by college spitirt, it seems to me that the most important part of the expression is included in the word "loyalty" - loyalty to our alma matter, who has fostered us from our green Freshman days till now, loyalty to her as a teacher and friend, a wise counsellor and true guide. We may in years come to be scattered over the face of the earth, but distance will not matter if we keep fresh in our hearts a memory of the institution that gave us our first start on the road to higher learning, that honoured us with our first degree, and to which we are not bidding our last good - bye."
- George S. Field
Between the pages of the Evergreen and gold yearbooks were moments that captured the history of the University. From the original sketches of its eventual growth to the initial courses that were offered, the yearbooks captured not only campus life and the students that inhabited the U of A but also a history of the buildings and institutions themselves. My personal favourite page in this section is the one with the U of A cheers. While some of them are rightfully retired, a couple of them are still amazing. I’m not going to be on campus anymore, but can someone please bring these back?
T-Squares! Compass! Transit! Chains!
Engines! Bridges! Dynamos! Drains!
Coal Mines! Railways - Every Day!
ENGINEERS! ENGINEERS! U. of A.
Markets, Trade and Transportation.
Bonds, Accounts, Administration.
Money, Banking, Business, Law.
Commerce, Commerce, Rah, Rah, Rah!
Fae, facul, factus,
Arts in general
That's the way we yell it,
This is the way we spell it -
Agriculture - Agriculture - Var-si-ty
Agrico, Biblico, Zip, Zap, Zee,
Triticum, Labrium, Bulbican, Bac
Incus, Humus, Igeneous, Lac.
Varsity, Varsity, U. of A.
Aggies. Aggies, Hip Hur-ray.
Lotions, Potions, fiat chart
We know 'em all Secundum Art.
Watch the spell binders,
We are the pill grinders
Hydrodizing, carbonizing, olea
PHARMACY. PHARMACY. U. of A.
U of A
VARSITY, VARSITY, RAH, RAH, RAH.
VARSITY, VARSITY, AL-BER-TA,
HI-YI, KI-TI, RAH, RAH, RAH,
RIP IT OUT, TEAR IT OUT, ALBERTA,
VARSITY, VARSITY, HIP-HOO-RAY,
|"Seventeen years is not a long period in the life of an institution. In the old land it would seem very short, but in this new land such a period of time has a relatively greater significance, and for the University of Alberta it constitutes the sum total of its existence.|
The first President, the creator of the whole organization, still occupies the Presidential chair, and directs the University's policy. The first Chancellor presides over the deliberations of the Senate and speaks the "Admitto te" to the eager "Graduand" at the annual Convocation, while the first Deans of the various Faculties call the candidates to the platform, and the first Registrar of the University adjusts the many colored hood. The first Provost guides the students in disciplinary maters, and acts as host to the University visitor. The first appointed heads of the Department of Classics and of English, and of many other Departments of the University still direct the courses provided. And so although many new members have come, and some, alas have gone, the University still has the advantage of the initiative of those who have pioneered, and of the unity of policy which results from a continuity of service. This may help to account for the fact that although the growth of the institution has been very rapid it has also been very substantial in character..."
The period of 1921-1936 was of course a time between World Wars yet the impact of the First World War and the Great Depression could not be ignored in the yearbooks. War left a huge impact on the incoming classes of the early 1920s and while the depression was mentioned by the classes of the 1930s, the optimistic student spirit ensure that the Great Depression was not dwelled upon. It is through the experience of students that we see a snippet of world history through the eyes of the U of A.
Campus Life... and A Whole Lot of Personality
YouAlberta is a campus life blog and while it strives to capture moments in time on campus in much the same way the Evergreen and Gold Yearbooks did. I found countless priceless pictures and moments while I flipped through the yearbooks and below are some of my personal favourite moments from athletics, clubs, and campus activities.
The Final Wrap Up
This is my last piece for YouAlberta and probably my last time checking out books from Rutherford so I hope you’ve enjoyed looking back at these U of A relics as much as I did. The Evergreen and Gold yearbooks grant you the opportunity to share memories with people you’ve never met and step foot onto a campus that is very different than the one you’re attending. It’s something that, in my last week as an undergrad, I’ll hold onto as I feel myself becoming a part of the University’s long history. Please take the opportunity to see the books for yourself- there’s dozens of volumes housed in south Rutherford on the fourth floor. Thanks for being a part of the U of A’s amazing history and for letting YouAlberta capture moments of it.
About the Author
Hello there! I'm Trenton and I'm super excited to be a YouAlberta Student Communicator. Though I spend a staggering amount of my time thinking about a syllabus for an imaginary Batman 101 class, my major is actually Political Science. I love to read, eat, and play around in Photoshop (sometimes all at once). If you're ever looking for someone to debate about a variety of nerdy topics, I'm your man.
It is my hope to tell a wide array of stories about the sides of campus life and student life that may not be immediately apparent. In doing this, I want to showcase the diversity, passion, and community at the U of A that constantly inspires me. My time at the U of A has been truly trans-formative and, as I enter my final year here, I can't wait to listen to and tell stories about the University and its students.