Alumni activities

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Home > McGill News > 2000 > Fall 2000 > Alumni activities

Alumni activities

Dawson college remembered

It was a truly memorable weekend. From across North America, men who had attended McGill's solution to the sudden enrolment boom immediately following World War II came to Montreal to share their recollections of that exceptional experience. Over three days in early June, some seventy "Dawsonites" and many of their wives relived the glorious days of Dawson College at a 50th Anniversary Reunion.

While memories had dimmed somewhat, no one had forgotten the remarkable bonding that took place in those years 1945-50 among students of very diverse backgrounds and experience -- battle-scarred veterans, fresh-faced kids just out of high school, wartime survivors from Europe -- who studied engineering and science at a former Air Force training base at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

A reception at the Redpath Museum kicked off the weekend program with a welcome from Principal Bernard Shapiro, and times past were evoked by memorabilia, news clippings and slide displays of the dreary Dawson landscape.

"I cannot imagine today's students comprehending (or accepting) the conditions which for us was simply the way things were," said Rev. Richard Fleming, BSc'51, of the college's infamously harsh and austere conditions. "None of us will forget the walks in the wind and bitter cold to the common mess hall. The food screamed 'colour me gray' and was steamed senseless and tasteless."

Hugh Marshall, BEng'51, recalled better moments, noting "the best parties were spontaneous. One evening a group of guys brought a piano from the mess hall upstairs into the bathroom of our dormitory."

For a special return to the campus, buses full of alumni rolled out to St-Jean. All were stunned by the total transformation of what had, in the late forties, been their universe. None of the landmarks remained except a few hangars on the runway, now a civil airport. The once-barren landscape is today lush green space, and a modern high-rise complex belonging to the

Armed Forces stands just outside the former college grounds.

That night, the group gathered for a special dinner at Montreal's University Club, and the evening was dedicated to reminiscences as graduate after graduate stood to share warm recollections of life at Dawson. The evening closed with a respectably lusty version of "Dawson Once, Dawson Twice" and after a tour of Old Montreal the next morning, alumni returned home with a fresh set of great memories.

"A Man of Infinite Jest..."


Vancouver was the scene of the latest Leacock Luncheon and guest speaker this year was the witty Christopher Gaze, director of Bard on the Beach, the Vancouver version of Shakespeare in the Park, seen here flanked by fellow funnyman and moderator Derek Drummond, BArch'62, Vice-Principal, Development and Alumni Relations, and Luncheon organizer Angela Arkell, BA'67.


Polo Anyone?

The Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut was the setting for a July gathering of New York alumni who made their presence known by unfurling a McGill flag at the grounds.

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