Trent University's Otonabee College (OC) recently hosted an unforgettable weekend of festivities to commemorate its 50th anniversary. The celebrations brought together past and present students, faculty, and community members, fostering a sense of camaraderie and reminiscence while highlighting the college's rich history and promising future.
Under the leadership of Dr. Jessica Becking, interim principal of OC, the weekend unfolded with a vibrant range of activities and events that evoked cherished memories and fostered new connections. From the lively opening ceremony to a visit to the archives, guided tours, and spirited house games, the weekend was filled with laughter, friendship, and a shared sense of pride.
The festivities commenced with a warm welcome and a special guest lecture at Wenjack Theatre. Chancellor Stephen Stohn '66 (Champlain College) and esteemed professors such as Dr. Dan Longboat '73 (Otonabee College), former college head Gordon Johnston, and Dr. Deborah Berrill '69 guided attendees through a nostalgic journey, delivering "Then and Now" lectures that shed light on the evolving fields of study and the memories that shaped their academic experiences.
Reconnecting with community and revisiting fond memories
Throughout the rest of the day, alumni had the opportunity to reconnect with friends, both new and old, all sharing a passion for the rich history of OC and its legacy of fostering connections among its community. Among them was Allan Short '75 (Otonabee College), who took a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about his cherished moments from his time living in residence.
Allan fondly recalled a remarkably frosty day in February, 1977. Despite temperatures plunging to -28°C, Allan and his friends flooded a grassy area to create an impromptu broomball rink.
Allan had many other fond memories including volleyball matches within OC, and social gatherings at the iconic Cat's Ass, underscoring the vibrant and unforgettable experiences shared by the college community.
Allan said Trent’s unique collegiate system was very comforting during his first few years as he never had to worry about finding his own community. “You could walk into the OC dining hall and sit at any table because everybody knew everybody. We were a bit like a family.”
A twist on a college tradition
The reverse scarfing ceremony proved to be a heartfelt and poignant moment, symbolizing the profound intergenerational bond within OC. Alumni who graduated before the tradition was established received their scarves from current students who had already received theirs. This beautiful ritual perfectly embodied the spirit of OC, where knowledge and traditions are shared from one generation to the next, fostering a strong sense of community and connection.
"It's fascinating to note that college scarves weren't a part of Trent's tradition until 2008, when it all began right here at Otonabee College under the guidance of then head of colleges, Robin Lathangue,” shared Dr. Stephanie Muehlethaler, returning principal of Otonabee College. “The reverse scarfing ceremony not only symbolizes the intergenerational bond but also represents the rich legacy and innovative spirit of Otonabee College. As alumni receive their scarves from current students, they honour this cherished tradition while embracing their role as carriers of knowledge. This ceremony stands as a powerful testament to the enduring impact and transformative ethos of Otonabee College."
The weekend was a testament to the enduring legacy of the college and the dedication and passion of its alumni and supporters. It served as a reminder of the transformative power of education and the lifelong bonds formed within the walls of collegiate communities at Trent. As the college looks toward the future, it remains committed to providing an inclusive and enriching environment where students can thrive and make a difference.