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ALUMNI QUARTERLY - winter 2008
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Home > McGill News > 2000 > Spring 2000 > Letters

Recycling redux

My congratulations to Alexandra zum Felde and Deborah Buszard for their roles in converting Robertson Terrace at Macdonald Campus to an environmentally friendly residence ("Home Improvement," Summer 1999).

However, there was environmental awareness at Robertson Terrace while it was married students' housing. During the time my family and I lived there (1985 to 1989) the Robertson Terrace Residents Association (RTRA) had garden plots at the south end of the buildings, where composting of organic material was encouraged. Clothing and other goods were exchanged on an informal basis through the laundry rooms. Newspaper was collected for recycling. RTRA also encouraged a feeling of community through dances, potluck meals and collaboration on an international cookbook.

While these efforts were not as grandiose or far reaching as the present EcoResidence, there have been attempts to lessen human impact on the environment previously at Robertson Terrace. I wish the present attempt success and trust periodic updates on progress will be made.

Don Albright, MSc(Agr)'90
Hythe, Alta.

We're on the web

For Mark Wolfe and others who have discovered live web cams ("Letters," Winter 1999/2000), McGill does indeed have one that shows the campus from our offices in the new McGill building at the corner of University and Sherbrooke. Unfortunately, Burnside Hall obscures the Arts Building, but you can see the Roddick Gates, lower campus and the mountain. As he suggests, the view would be much better from Place Ville Marie, but the cost is prohibitive. At night and when the sun shines directly in the camera, it may not look like the campus you remember. The URL is: /icc.

John Roston, BA'76, MA'84
Director, McGill Instructional
Communications Centre

Thanks for the memories

I just finished reading the 80th Anniversary issue of the McGill News which arrived today. What a lot of memories!

I graduated from high school in Montreal in 1939. I couldn't afford college, so I went to work. After a few years I decided to go to what was then Sir George Williams University for five years winter and summer. I was active in the evening division, becoming at one time editor of the Georgian. It wasn't easy: working all day, school at night. However I know that if you really want an education you can get it. I graduated from Sir George with a BA. Then I went to McGill Library School, where I was vice-president of the class, and graduated with my BLS in 1949.

I came to Baltimore, where I had planned to stay to get experience, then go around the U.S. and English-speaking countries, then home. Well, that wasn't how I ended up. I married 47 years ago, have two children and four grandchildren. We now live on Maryland's eastern shore.

When my daughter started first grade, I went back to work as a librarian at a parochial school, but I am retired now. I volunteer at the library in a nearby monastery - they aren't on computers yet, thank goodness. I still go to Montreal at least every other year. I was there this past summer and it will always be my home.

Congratulations on all the great changes. McGill has grown with the times. And thank you again for the walk down memory lane.

Jean Gallahue O'Gorman, BLS'49
Denton, Md.

Dawson hard done by

The 80th Anniversary Issue of McGill News evoked many memories. Thank you for it.

It is unfortunate that space did not permit mention of Dawson College. Perhaps you might consider a "retrospective" on Dawson while there are still Dawsonites around to recall it.

For those of us who entered Dawson College directly from high school it was an accelerated maturing experience, probably second only to actually participating in WWII. Fresh, green teenagers, still relatively wet behind the ears, lived, worked and played with others — sometimes only a few years older — whose breadth and depth of experience far outstripped the age difference. The vets also knew that they had only this one chance for a good education. After-class high jinks were one thing, but clowning in class was liable to be dealt with more severely by a fellow student than by a professor.

In retrospect, those of us who experienced Dawson can only be grateful for its contribution to our growing up — even if we didn't think so at the time.

H.G. McAdie, BSc'51
Toronto, Ont.

Congratulations on your wonderful anniversary edition of the News! The task of covering 80 years of activity in 26 pages of text and photos was a truly daunting one; the variety of stories selected bears witness both to the liveliness and the involvement of the institution, its students, its staff and its graduates over almost a century.

Regrettably, however, one very special initiative which McGill undertook in the '40s and which was highly successful, warranted only eight words. I refer to the opening of Dawson College in St. Jean, Quebec, in 1945. This temporary satellite campus located on a disused airforce base was home to some 5,000 McGill students during its short life of five years.

Returned veterans, their families, young science, commerce, engineering and architecture students fresh from high school and professors barely older than many of the students (and often still in uniform because of McGill's low salaries) lived, studied, played and partied together with a spirit of camaraderie rarely matched at the University before or since. Adversity and proximity create long friendships!

To mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of Dawson in May 1950 a reunion of all who "served time" at that bleak campus will take place in Montreal (and perhaps at St. Jean) on the weekend of June 2 through 4. We urge all ex-Dawsonites to attend the reunion.

John H. Dinsmore, BEng'52
R. David Bourke, BArch'54

Montreal, Que.

Ed. note: In the McGill News of Spring 1946, A.H.S. Gillson, newly appointed vice-principal of the college, wrote an article describing the rapid transition of the 50-acre site from air force training station to auxiliary campus. At a ceremony on September 26, 1945, the RCAF ensign was lowered and the McGill flag raised. By the afternoon of the next day, the first students had found their way to campus. According to Gillson, "Even up to a few hours before opening Dawson College, equipment such as beds, crockery, etc. was rolling in from many points."

College alumni wanting information about the 50th reunion should see page 40 of this issue.

Rutherford memorial

Congratulations on the 80th Anniversary issue of the McGill News. It was a fascinating read.

I was interested to note your comments about Sir Ernest Rutherford. I have just returned from New Zealand, and while there, I visited his memorial, near Nelson (photo).

It was also interesting to read Lew K. Anderson's comments about the barber in Dakar ("World View"). Lew was my mother's first cousin and is buried in the churchyard across the street from where I now live.

Heather Calhoun, BA'63
Beauharnois, Que.

We've come a long way

Thank you for having the courage to reprint the obnoxious remarks of Deans Reynolds and Dion ("Winner of 'Most Offensive Remark by a Dean' Contest," 80th Anniversary Edition, Winter 1999/2000). They validate the memory of what many women undergraduates in the Arts experienced during the sixties: we were often patronized as students; undervalued as members of the larger community; and categorized by role models as either marriageable or "fat and ugly" and thereby "career-minded." It's a tribute to our talent, grit, and good fortune — not to the leadership of our university — that so many of us went on to successful, gratifying professional lives.

Pamela Kapelos Fitzgerald, BA'69
Charlottesville, Va.

When is a decade not a decade?

Thank you for the excellent retrospective on the eight decades leading up to the 80th anniversary of the McGill News.

It was interesting to note on page 6 that experts from McGill gave up their New Year's celebrations to assist in dealing with Y2K technical problems. They will be pleased to know that even if they missed some meaningless "millennial" celebrations, they did not miss celebrating the millennium. It won't happen until a year from now in 2001, when there will be no Y2K problems to take care of.

I am distressed that any McGill graduate, or undergraduate for that matter, would entertain for very long the idea that 2000 is the first year of a new century or millennium. I wish to point out that the decade divisions used in this retrospective are incorrect as well. Both of these common misconceptions can be easily corrected. The calendar we use started on the supposed day of the birth of Jesus Christ, the first day of the year one. The first decade ended at the end of the year 10, not 9, and the second decade started on January 1 of the year 11, His 10th birthday. The 100th anniversary of His birth was January 1, 101 and the 2000th will be on January 1, 2001.

Every decade, century and millennium begins with a number ending in one and ends with a number ending in zero. This is because everything is a multiple of ten. The 1920s should start with 1921 and run to 1930 and so on. Our present century started in 1901 and will not end until the end of 2000.

I believe this whole business is a misunderstanding of how decades work. We are used to referring to the last decade of our current century, the tenth decade, as the '90s. It is natural to assume that 1990 was the first year of the decade, but from the previous analysis we know this is not correct.

Joe Carr, BSc(Agr)'49, MSc'51
via e-mail

Ed. note: Joe Carr may be right, but is there anyone who'll admit it if it means going through end-of-millennium hype all over again?

Sharp-eyed doctor

The McGill News is excellent as always.

I do have one correction to note in the Winter 1999/2000 issue. On page 14 in the timeline you list the death of Sir William Osler in 1920. The actual date of his death was December 29, 1919.

Harold A. Kozinn, MDCM'55
Rockville Centre, N.Y.

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