Memories of the Great Hall
Ken Tilley ‘68
Sherry, shenanigans and seriousness
In the early days of Trent, when we were required to wear gowns to dinner at least once a week, the requirement was made much more agreeable by the serving of sherry in the JCR before dinner. These were most convivial occasions to chat with classmates, friends and others and were often a highlight of the week.
An invitation to join the fellows at the high table, which was issued to all college members at least once a year, had a special cachet. You would join the fellows for pre-dinner libations in the SCR where there was usually a special guest or two ranging from visiting academics to politicians to various and sundry friends of the college, and then dine with the group at the high table on the dais at the front of the Great Hall.
The Great Hall was also the scene for occasional episodes of college and personal rivalry. A couple of times a year a food fight would erupt and quickly escalate. The action would start with light, dry innocuous buns and degenerate to softer, messier items like mashed potatoes and a broad selection of sloppy desserts. On one memorable occasion, I recall that the bishop’s chair, which then resided on the first landing of the stairs leading up and out of the Great Hall, got hit with a very wet, very large piece of cream pie. It never did get properly cleaned up and the chair probably bears traces of the pie to this day.
The competition between Lady Eaton College and Champlain also often played out in the Great Hall. On one occasion the girls (LEC was women-only then and Champlain all men) stole all our cutlery and for two or three days we had to eat with our fingers and any tools we could improvise. On another occasion, straight pins were strategically placed, pointing upwards of course, in the woven wicker seats of our chairs and more than one groggy breakfast diner received a cheeky wake-up call that morning.
The Great Hall was also the venue of choice for university-wide concerts and dances as well as more serious fare including Réne Lévesque in his first major speech outside Quebec.
Ken Tilley ‘68