Naming Otonabee College
During the planning stages of the college, we were referred to as College V (a reference to being the fifth College at Trent University). It was Professor Kenneth E. Kidd, from the Anthropology department, who provided a written recommendation to Stewart A. Brown for "Otonabee" to be considered for the college.
Between 1970-72, a naming committee was struck to put forth and collect suggestions for names. Other candidates on the list included “Kawartha,” “Norman Bethune,” “Lester B. Pearson,” “Kidnosh,” “Ojibway,” “Kinomagawin,” “Wendakee,” etc. The Naming Committee put forth a request for opinions in an edition of the Fortnightly, Dec. 4, 1972 and the choice was between Kinomagawin (Algonquin for 'place of thinking'), Otonabee, and Wendakee ('Huronia'). The committee received a variety of responses in support for options on the list, strong opinions against the names, many who thought it should remain College V and recommendations for new candidates.
In December 1972, College V was officially named Otonabee College. The north residence wing opened in 1973 and the south residence wing in 1974. The architect was Macy Dubois of Fairfield and Dubois.
Reference: The Trent University Archives
Macy Dubois of DuBois, Strong and Bindhardt firm (formerly known as Fairfield and Dubois) was interviewed in The Canadian Architect (vol. 20, No. 7), which was published July 1975. The following are some of her comments on the Otonabee College project.
“The program for the college was put together by a group headed by Professor Ian Chapman, which had three faculty and three student members. Although we sat in on all of these program meetings, ours was more a listening capacity. The students were very much equal contributors and were crucial to the final program form.” (The Canadian Architect, p. 23)
Dubois on the terra cotta roof of Otonabee College: “We discovered the terra cotta roofing we used to provide warmth when seen in the winter landscape turned out to seem a cooler colour outside as opposed to inside. There were those who strongly defended the colour while others opposed it. Although (Ron) Thom wanted us to use a cooler colour still I would have preferred an earthier tone. These shed roofs and grey block walls were consciously developed in a kind of barn idiom, the dominant element in the rural landscape with painted roofs and weathered cedar siding. Knowing this, the students called it "Superbarn", referring particularly to the academic and Student Union portion at the foot of the hill, an appellation we admire.” (The Canadian Architect, p. 24)
“To us, the Otonabee College seems less formal than its predecessors on campus, more rural and regional in character… We would also say that we found the personality of the staff and students different from many other institutions for which we have worked. We hope that Otonabee College is as friendly an environment as the people who directed us deserve.” (The Canadian Architect, p. 24)
The Otonabee College Crest
As part of the 20th anniversary of Otonabee College in 1993-94, the Head of the College at the time (Professor Gordon Johnston) announced that a college crest would be created to celebrate this milestone in the history of the College. A first version of the crest was unveiled by the next Head of the College (the late Professor Robert Annett) on the College's 25th anniversary in 1998. The crest was designed by an Otonabee student, Kevin Crellin, and much of the work needed to make this crest 'official' was masterfully undertaken by Brian Poirier (afterward President of the OC Cabinet). In 2003, Professor Ivana Elbl, who followed Professor Annett as Head, arranged with Richard Miller of Communications to update the design and make it available electronically. Various items bearing the College crest are now available from the College Office.
In the conventional design of a coat of arms, a helmet stands above the crest itself. In the Otonabee College crest, a quartered medicine circle replaces the helmet to honour the traditional teachings of the First Nations Peoples and also the historical relationship between the College and the Native Studies Department. According to Vern Douglas (Native Studies), the circle here has many different forms and meanings, including: the four cardinal directions, the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of human life, and the four human faculties. This particular form of the circle also represents the four races of the earth, and is hence a very appropriate way of recognizing both the intentional composition of the College and its relation to the earth as a whole.
In the shield itself, the four 'elements' express the identity of the college. The feather and scroll (upper left) and the open book (lower right) represent learning and scholarship in a general sense, but also contrast history and the present. We considered substituting the image of a computer screen for the book, but decided it would seem jarring or unrecognizable. The cedar branch (upper right) represents not only the cedar ridge on which the College is situated, but also the connections between the College and the environment more generally, especially the Environmental Studies program. Evergreen trees have also traditionally represented vitality and continuity, two important features of the College.
The Otonabee College Motto
The College motto,
tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis
'the times are changing and we change with them'
appears on either side of the shield, and was chosen because of its relevance to the history of the College. From its inception, Otonabee College has thought of itself as contributing an original and fresh understanding of the nature of the colleges within the University. In its thirty years it has undergone many changes, not only in its staff and faculty and students, but also in its structure. Yet, it remains essentially the same. We change with the times; the river flows towards the future but remains recognizably itself (The author of this line is unknown-it is a perfect Latin hexameter, but is not quoted until the early 17th century).
Professor Gordon Johnston Master, Otonabee College (1988-94)
Professor Ian C. Storey Principal, Otonabee College (2003-2008)