In the fall of 1958, five hundred first year students participated in a week (September 29th to October 3rd) of initiation activities (by today’s standards the term hijinks would be more appropriate). But our first activity that week was an afternoon of service at the Bolton Fresh Air Camp, chopping down old trees (boys) and carrying away the brush (girls).
Somehow in that week we managed to get a few classes in, between the “Broom Ball Battle,” the “Hounds and Hares Race”, “the Candlelight Ceremony of the Lamp and Owl for first and second year women, three dances and the infamous Bob Apple Battle – now this was a masterpiece of ridiculousness. In the Vic Field (where the McKinsey building is now) the sophomore men erected a greased poll topped with a beanie (we were all required to wear this scarlet and gold cap everywhere during initiation week). The freshmen were supposed to climb this tall greasy pole to retrieve the beanie while the Sophs defended the pole. The previous year the beanie was on the wrong end of the pole, buried in the ground!!! And traditionally during this week the frosh kidnapped the Soph leaders and vice-versa. As a Bob leader (name for the frosh leaders), I along with 2 others was kidnapped, blindfolded and driven to some hinterland area of Toronto (probably just north of Steeles and west of Jane) and dropped off on a gravel road amidst farmers fields as far as the eye could see – no barns, no houses, no civilization. Our abductors drove off and we were left to get back to Vic somehow!!
This initiation week was preceded by a “House Party” in Annesley Hall from Friday night to Sunday afternoon for all first year girls who wanted to attend. We all stayed in the 5 Houses on Bloor Street or Annesley Hall while the boys were closed in Burwash doing their own activities (separation of the genders was taken for granted in those days). This was the serious payoff initiation where we met the “officers of the college;” heard the Dean of Women speak and introduce the associate presidents of all the Vic clubs and societies (women were not allowed to be president!); attended a service in the Chapel led by Dr. A.B.B. Moore; and listened to a discussion of our courses led by the Registrar Professor Hare. This was mixed in with “informal parties”, a lunch with the seniors, coffee with Miss Magoherson in the Music Room, an Argo vs. Ottawa football game at Varsity Stadium and 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners. I wonder how much this all cost us? Remember tuition fees were just over $400 fifty-two years ago!!
All in all initiation activities did a good job of letting an immature group of teenagers get to know one another and learn more about the college that was to be centre of their lives for the next three to four years.
P.S. I gathered a lot of this information from “The Varsity” clipping and initiationmemorabilia that I collected and saved to this day.
Submitted by Judy Caldecott Fleming Vic 6T1