Autumn 2010

Your Letters

Fond Memories

In the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of New Trail there is Letter to the Editor from Ellen Schoeck, ’72 BA, ’77 MA, that brought back the names of two university officials who had considerable influence on my life (I’m now 95). My mother, Zella Crowe Spencer, taught school in Edmonton in 1911 and boarded with the Ottewells, and so met A. E. Ottewell, ’12 BA, ’15 MA, who’s mentioned in the “Photo Finish” letter as one of the rugby players pictured and who later became registrar of the University of Alberta. Thus, when I was ready to enter university in 1932, it was logical for me to consult him. Also mentioned in the letter is that William Hardy Alexander, ’33 LLD (Honorary), was the coach of the rugby team Ottewell played on. Alexander was one of the top scholars hired in the early years of the University, and I knew of his top scholarship but not of his sport coaching activity. However, I did know him as the acting minister in the Unitarian congregation, so every Sunday I could hear a scholarly sermon to offset my narrow science-course curriculum. I have fond memories of my university days and was a member of the last class that had to endure the ritual of initiation before it was banned.

Elvins Spencer, ’36 BSc, ’38 MSc London, ON

Editor’s Note: A. E. Ottewell was a member of the first graduating class in 1912. He was the first honours student in Classics and did the major part of his work under professor W. H. Alexander. Ottewell was the second president of the Students’ Union, the first editor-in-chief of The Gateway, and chairman of the first Student Committee. After graduation, Ottewell was appointed secretary of the University Extension, which became the Department of Extension and, long after he’d left, the Faculty of Extension. In 1928, Ottewell resigned as director of the Department of Extension to fill the position of registrar of the University, a position he held until his death in 1946.

Greenhouse Gas

In reading some of the letters [in the Winter 2010 issue], emotion seemed to be present in some abundance. As an antidote, I would respectfully suggest that terms such as “climate change” and “global warming” be defined prior to their use. This might promote more objectivity and lead to a notion as to when these phenomena began and how they might be dealt with. It’s also of note that Robert Malthus’ writings on population might be of interest.

Duncan Bath, ’45 BSc(Eng) Peterborough, ON

Editor’s note: The Reverend Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was a British scholar most famous for expounding on his theory that the human population rate can only increase to a certain point at which time it becomes unsustainable and will be kept in check by widespread mortality caused by famine or disease.

Our Town

I am not generally a numbers person, but the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of New Trail made me smile. The letter titled “Gas Light,” in correcting an error in a former issue, reported the population of Grande Prairie, AB, as 45,000. The sign outside our city lists our population as just over 50,200. According to my Google search, this figure is based on the 2007 census, so we may have even more people now.

Lisa Schaffrick, ’96 BSc(PT) Grande Prairie, AB

Contented Readers

I certainly enjoy the New Trail, and always read it, cover-to-cover.

Shirley Stinson, ’52 Dip(Nu), ’53 BSc(Nu) Professor Emerita Edmonton, AB

I just finished reading the Spring/ Summer 2010 New Trail magazine. As often is the case, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, especially several articles: “Real Havana,” about this city in Cuba, and “Report to the Community,” articles about various people. These stories were especially inspiring! As usual, many of the photos brought back fond memories of my time at the University.

Albert Calman, ’90 MSc Karmiel, Israel

What About Stu?

On reading the article in New Trail [Spring/Summer 2010] about Todd Cherniawsky, ’93 BFA, an art director for the film Avatar, I wanted to tell you about Stu Gillard, ’66 BA, who has won four prime-time Emmys and has numerous TV and film directing credits in Hollywood as well as writing and acting credits.

Mary Maxie, ’66 BA Phoenix, AZ

Barn Storming

A well maintained barnThe “Barn on the Move” (pg. 72, Spring/ Summer 2010) story evoked a still vivid memory of this peripatetic old barn from many years ago. I was pleased to see the barn has been freshly painted, well- maintained and still considered useful for further service at some new location.

My first exposure to this structure was a full 80 years ago, in mid-summer of 1930, when it was undergoing its first relocation. I was a small boy of six years of age, ready to enter Grade 1 at the end of that long and memorably hot summer. I can recall my shock and amazement as I saw the barn approaching along 115th Street, a street that then had no houses. The barn was carried on beams above a number of wheeled dollies. A large steam tractor—roaring and belching smoke and cinders with a whirling spinner furiously rotating atop its boiler—was pulling the whole structure south toward the streetcar tracks that ran along 76 Avenue. Joined by a number of other idle and surprised youngsters, we all raced as close as possible to this marvel of transportation, a huge building, by our standards, moving along the road. We quickly attracted the wrath of the steam tractor driver who, of course, disliked kids running alongside his vehicle at any time.

What we were seeing was the first in a series of moves of university barns by a crew and equipment contracted by H. J. Marks, which was at the time a well-known Edmonton house moving company. The speed of movement was about a walking pace, and at least a full day was consumed in moving each of the barns to their new locations, a tremendous difference from modern moves behind powerful trucks travelling at modest speeds.

Great speculation circulated concerning the crossing of the streetcar tracks at the intersection of 115 Street and 76 Avenue. The H.J. Marks crew had already arranged to cut the trolley wires there so the big barn could cross. There was some difficulty getting the dolly wheels to cross the tracks properly, and the sweating work crew unleashed a memorable shower of foul language in the course of negotiating this crossing, greatly shocking a number of the spectators who had gathered to watch the spectacle.

The task of moving all the barns lasted a full week, providing great entertainment for the neighbours living close to the route followed by the H. J. Marks crew. Blessed with dry weather throughout the entire move, the work crew did, however, have to tolerate a well-remembered heat wave. My mother took sympathy on the crew as they toiled in the unbelievable heat and instructed my younger brother and me to carry pails of cold lemonade that she had made for them. Not intending to become hucksters, our arrival at the work scene with cold lemonade was extremely welcomed, and these men who had very few coins themselves—as it was the years of the Great Depression—gave us a lot of coins we had not expected.

Please forgive an old man who goes on about his memories of days long past, but the “Barn on the Move” picture unleashed recollections of a structure, which I quickly recognized as the first player in a series of events of great excitement to all of us in those days. I am pleased to see that it has survived the years so well, better than most of its contemporaries.

Neil J. Stewart, ’52 BA Victoria, BC