One of the Archives longest artifacts (when fully extended it reaches 18 feet), this model slide rule was donated by the Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science Department. It was used for demonstration purposes in the classroom. It served as a useful visual aide by instructors who would need to explain concepts on the chalk board to a classroom of students. The students could then follow along with their respective slide rules.
The slide rule was developed in the 17th century and was used for calculations in science and engineering before the advent of the pocket calculator.
Donald Mordell, Ryerson’s President from 1970-1974, also donated his personal slide rule and case. He was a distinguished international engineer and academic.
A year after Ryerson was erected, William Thomas, a prominent architect of the 19th century, moved into his new home. He built for himself the building that is now known as Oakham House, the original name given by Thomas in 1848. The designated historic building has lived through a few lifetimes as Oakham House, the Working Boys Home, Kerr Hall, Eric Palin Hall, and presently once again as Oakham House. Thomas adopted a gothic style of architecture for his home. Trademarks of Oakham House are the two ornamental dogs that adorned the entrance and that are now housed here in the Archives (see blog post for more information). Thomas resided in Oakham House until his death in 1860. The house was sold to John McGee, a relative of D’Arcy McGee (a Father of Canadian Federation), shortly prior to his death.
The Oakham House remained in the McGee family until the city purchased it in 1899. For the next sixty years it was known as the Working Boys Home, a place for “boys with problems, not problem boys” as the superintendent Bartholomew Cacan described.
The Home had enough space for fifteen troubled or disadvantaged male youth ranging from ages fourteen to eighteen once renovations were made. Rooms were cut into cubicles and a wing was added to the building.
For ten dollars a week, the boys had room and board, laundry service, medical care, counselling, recreational space, and two meals a day. The number of staff was small and the boys did much of the cleaning. Over the years, the Home provided refuge for thousands of boys, most of which belonged to the YMCA and were placed through Children’s Aid Societies. When the Ontario Government bought the house in 1958, the Working Boys Home was relocated and renamed the Clifton House.
Ryerson Polytechnical Institute acquired the building and named it Kerr Hall, after Ryerson President Howard Kerr. It was intended for use as a residence and a student government office space and the students raised over $100 000 to realize these goals. After undergoing more structural changes, it reopened in 1960 and welcomed forty-two male resident students in its upper floors. The basement housed the student organization offices, a conference room and a tuck shop.
“Momma” and “Poppa” Wycik operated the Hall and resided on the second floor. Kerr Hall also held a peculiar resident: a ram named Eggy, the school’s mascot.
In the early 1960s, a new Kerr Hall building was under construction and the current Kerr Hall was again renovated and renamed Eric Palin Hall. Eric Palin was the founder of the schools of Electronics and Radio and Television Arts and was the executive assistant to Principal Kerr. Palin Hall opened in 1971 and remained as a residence and social centre for the next two years until the Fire Department deemed the second and third floors unsafe to live in. The rest of Palin Hall welcomed Ryerson students, staff, and faculty as a community centre with dining facilities, lounges, games, and meeting rooms.
Once again, in 1976, the building underwent renovations and reopened with its original name Oakham House in the summer of 1978, this time with a pub on the lower level.
Oakham House became commonly known for The Oakham House Societies, social organizations that operate for Ryerson community members, including the Oakham House Choir and the Oakham House Theatre Society.
For more information about Oakham House and other campus buildings, please visit the Ryerson Archives & Special Collections located on the 4th floor of the library in Room LIB404.
Ryerson University students and researchers now have access to an extensive collection of materials related to Robert Hackborn’s work. For nearly four decades, Robert Hackborn worked at the CBC in the design and production of sets and visual effects for television shows. On display now at the Special Collections Library are some of these materials generously donated by Hackborn.
Robert Arthur Hackborn was born in 1928 in Toronto, and attended the Ontario College of Art (OCA) from 1948 to 1952. In 1955, Hackborn embarked on what would become a long and important career in the design and production of sets and visual effects for television when he took a position in the nascent Television Production unit at the CBC. His often leading-edge contributions to the many shows he worked on are of great cultural and technological significance.
While at the CBC, Hackborn helped to design a staggering array of variety, comedy, musical, sports, news, children’s, and scripted television programs. Starting with The Juliette Show in the late 1950’s, and continuing into the 1990’s, Hackborn’s designs and visual effects defined and enhanced the production of a vast number of shows at the CBC. Among those featuring Hackborn’s input were: Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood, Mr. Dressup, The Tommy Hunter Show, World Tour ’67, Wayne & Shuster, I Married the Klondike, Fraggle Rock, The Royal Canadian Air Farce, and The Kids in the Hall.
Hackborn also worked as a production designer with director Donald Brittain on several CBC/National Film Board (NFB) co-productions including: Canada’s Sweetheart: the Saga of Hal C. Banks and The King Chronicles.
During his career, Mr. Hackborn was also responsible for the execution of a very large collection of photographs that document the processes of working on a television set. With a professionally trained eye for composition and his camera, Mr. Hackborn systematically documented the television production process of the shows that he worked on. Featured in some of these photographs are Jim Henson and Fred Rogers.
As part of the Robert Hackborn Collection, Ryerson has several objects, textual records, and photographs related to the production of Fraggle Rock. Fraggle Rock was a popular children’s television show developed by Jim Henson and featuring his beloved live action puppets. The original English language version of the show ran for five seasons and 96 episodes between 1983 and 1987.On display are a group of photographs taken by Hackborn that show Jim Henson and others working with puppets on the set of Fraggle Rock, a sweatshirt and a children’s picture book produced as part of the show’s promotional marketing campaign, and three specially commissioned ‘Doozer’ figurines used by Hackborn during the set design process.
Hackborn is credited with the art direction for Fraggle Rock during the inaugural 1983-84 season, and as a set designer for two episodes in the second season.
The Glass Matte Shot
During his career at the CBC, Hackborn worked to pioneer various special visual effects techniques for television production including the “Glass Matte Shot”. To achieve this effect, images were painted onto a transparent glass matte placed in the foreground of and realistically inserted into the “real world” shot. This type of special effect was typically used to add facades onto buildings, or to create historically accurate ‘period’ effects for shows set in earlier times. The CBC film drama I Married the Klondike, and several sketches from The Royal Canadian Air Farce feature great examples of how the glass matte technique was used. The “Glass Matte Shot” process relied on a strong proficiency in lens-angle mathematics and a mature artistic vision in order to generate a realistic perspective and convincing effect. Shooting techniques like these were an important cost-saving tool on many CBC productions.
Robert Hackborn retired from the CBC in 1993 after 38 years of service. Included in the collection here at the Ryerson Special Collections are photographic and textual documentation of the various film-based special effects pioneered and employed by Hackborn in his work, as well as documentation of the earliest show development process for the major children’s television programs Mr. Dressup and Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood. There are also records related to the creative processes behind Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, including images of, and correspondence with Henson.
The Robert Hackborn collection represents a valuable resource for students and academics studying the history of Canadian television production and cultural output.
If you would like to see this display and part of the collection, or for more information, please drop by the 4th floor of the library, or make an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can search our Robert Hackborn Fonds online here.
It is convocation season and our graduates are eager to have that prized piece of paper in their hands. Degrees are not the only precious items held throughout the convocation ceremonies. Another ceremonial object to be excited about is the Howard Kerr Memorial Mace, carried during each convocation procession.
Historically speaking, the Howard Kerr Memorial Mace is not very old but it is rooted in a rich history of Ryerson’s growth and transformation over the years. Each university traditionally owns a mace which plays a major role in ceremonies and convocations. It is a great symbol of pride and of the authority of the chancellor to award degrees to students. And so, when the Ryerson Institute of Technology was officially renamed Ryerson Polytechnic University in 1993, a mace was necessary to symbolize this new status, and Professor Bannerman of the Psychology Department brought forth this necessity into attention.
Many incorrectly assume that Egerton Ryerson is the founder but it was Howard Kerr who founded the Ryerson Insititute of Tecnology in 1948 and named it as such in Ryerson’s honour. Bannerman felt it would be ideal if Seaforth, Kerr’s hometown, paid him tribute as the founder and first principal of Ryerson and contribute to a mace. He appealed to the citizens of Seaforth and the surrounding district as well as to Kerr’s friends and family. By 1992, the Memorial Mace Committee was formed with Bannerman as the Mace Coordinator.
Many Seaforth scholars attended Ryerson and during convocation the town felt that sense of pride and unity. The citizens felt donating a mace would be a great opportunity for Seaforth to ingrain that connection and become a part of Ryerson’s history. People were enthusiastic and donations ensued. Around fifty individuals and groups affiliated with Seaforth, Kerr, or the school donated and they raised over $18 000.
Ryerson was not mace-less or tradition-less before the creation of the Memorial Mace, however. The Memorial Mace is actually the third convocation symbol. The first symbol was the Lamp of Learning donated by Doug McCrae, the first director of the School of Furniture Arts and it was originally used as a trophy for chariot races. It was replaced in 1985 by the Oakham House Debating Society’s mace, carved by faculty member Jim Peters. It was not meant to be a convocation mace because of its large ram’s head and a chain-link central section, symbolizing coherence and good debate. Both past symbols are now housed at the Ryerson Archives.
Douglass Morse was commissioned to carve the new mace and he incorporated a number of historic and traditional symbols to represent Ryerson, as well as to recognize Kerr and the town of Seaforth.
The mace is:
53 inches (134.62 cm) long
made of solid turned walnut
characterized by intricate protuberances and 24 carat gold leaf details
Carved symbols on the mace are representative of:
Past – Egerton Ryerson’s portrait and the facade of the 1852 Normal School
Present – Ryerson’s coat of arms on the crown of the mace
Future – the space shuttle Columbia flown by Canada’s first female astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar of Ryerson’s Centre of Advanced Technology and Education
Ontario – provincial emblems on the crown: trilliums, maple leaves, and amethysts (Ontario’s official mineral)
Donors from Howard Kerr’s hometowns: the coat of arms of the Townships of Seaforth and McKillop
Founder of Ryerson – portrait of Howard Kerr
By the spring of 1994, the mace was complete and it was used in the convocation procession. Mace Committee members Ross and Ribey presented it to Mr. Crombie, the recently new and first Chancellor, on behalf of the donors. Dr. Bannerman was appointed bedel (mace-bearer) and continued on with this role at every convocation until he retired in 2001.
Today, there is one bedel from every faculty, changing with each convocation.
Howard Kerr was certainly an important figure in the development of Ryerson University and his contributions are embedded in Ryerson’s past, present, and future. He once said, “My whole life is Ryerson. I live it, eat it, sleep it”.
In 2012 Ryerson was bestowed another honour with the presentation of the Eagle Staff. Both will now be present at every convocation. For more information on the Eagle Staff, please read the Ryerson University Magazine story on the Eagle Staff.
As mentioned in Part One of this feature (published February 19, 2013), the NormalSchool was a great stepping stone for the future of education in Canada. Egerton Ryerson set the standards with the first Normal School of Upper Canada, furthering the quality of education as well as increasing the number of pupils with a desire to receive formal training. In 1852 the Normal School at it’s new St. James Square location had its first semester with two hundred pupil teachers and a total student body of six hundred with the elementary students included.
From the moment the Normal School at St. James Square opened, it never stopped growing and transforming. Maintenance to the school’s infrastructure was frequent from the 1860s and on. Changes were also made to the east front of the building in 1882 to accommodate the Ontario School of Art and Design and an iron fence was added to the property ten years later. By 1896, a third storey was added to the South block of the Normal School which provided spacious halls with archways and allowed for its use as art and picture galleries. The new storey also allowed space for an auditorium.
The year 1941 marked the Normal and Model Schools buildings’ end as such and the government of Ontario offered the buildings for a federal-provincial war training centre – Dominion-Provincial War Emergency Training Program – in support of the Second World War. Also on site was the No. 6 Initial Training Centre of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Prefabricated buildings also were built.
The Normal and Model schools were relocated to the Earl Kitchener Public School in East York for the remainder of the war. Without discussion, the change was made and the Normal School was eventually renamed Toronto Teachers College.
After the war, the building was renamed yet again and it became the Toronto Training and Re-establishment Institute for people who had served in the war. The program ceased in 1948 and the institute became the Ryerson Institute of Technology with Howard Kerr as its founder. The building once known as the Normal School became Ryerson Hall in memory of Egerton Ryerson.
The now Ryerson Hall building served as the main building for the Ryerson Institute of Technology with the pre-fab outbuildings used as classrooms, social and athletic venues. However, by the late 1950s, it was decided that Ryerson Hall would be demolished to make room for an increasing student body and course offerings. Ryerson Hall could not accommodate the vast changes of the Institute.
It was hoped that St. James Square could be kept in tact but this proved to be impossible if the school was to move forward and expand. Between 1958 and 1963, the surrounding structures housed in St. James Square were demolished. These, along with the Normal School building, except its front door and surrounding façade, were replaced by the Kerr Hall quadrangle building.
In 1964, the school was renamed again, this time as Ryerson Polytechnical Institution, which eventually gave rise to what would become the Ryerson University we know today.
The façade of the Normal School reminds us of our school’s journey from a normal and model school to a polytechnic institute to a university. It remains as a beautiful mark of architecture and is still in use as the entrance to the Ryerson University Recreation and Athletics Centre. Nothing else stands from our past.
It is the door to our past and future.
For more information and images of the Normal School and its deconstruction with the construction of Kerr Hall, please visit the Ryerson Archives & Special Collections located on the fourth floor of the library.
Though most current Ryerson students have seen changes that have occurred to the campus with the refurbishment of the Image Arts building, the campus as a whole has not undergone many substantial architectural changes in the past few years. Most students recognize the school in a much similar way to how it would have been years before them. However, if one looks back to the fifties, the campus did not hold the modern buildings it is now comprised of.
Inside the Kerr Hall quadrangle of our modern Ryerson campus stands, in its original position, what may be unofficially known to present-day students, as the Arch. The building that the Arch belonged to was the Normal School, demolished by 1963 and replaced with Kerr Hall to accommodate the demand of the growing student population at the time. The façade was preserved in memory of Dr. Egerton Ryerson and his contributions to the advancement of education in Ontario.
Egerton Ryerson, the superintendent of education from 1846 to 1876, envisioned an improved education system in the Upper Canada province (Ontario), but there was no actual plan of making this possible until he took action in 1846. He was granted permission to occupy the Government House of Upper Canada at King and Simcoe streets where Roy Thomson Hall is located today. The Normal school opened on November 1st, 1847. A normal school, according to Ryerson, is “a school in which the principles and practice of teaching according to rule, are taught and exemplified”. Normale is a French term implying a standard or norm in teaching. It was the first provincial institution for the systematic training of elementary school teachers.
In 1849, the government required immediate occupation of the Government House premises and the Normal school was to be vacated. The school then moved to Temperance Hall for three years on Temperance Street, situated below Richmond Street between Yonge and Bay streets. But it was unsuitable and inconvenient. Eventually, the site of St. James Square, on Gould Street, was acquired and proved to be suitable for the Normal school as well as its later development to a polytechnic institute and even later to becoming Ryerson University.
The area surrounded by Gould, Victoria, Gerrard, and Church streets was purchased in 1849. The buildings were designed in a classical revival style on the exterior (like civic buildings of the time) and had a gothic-style interior (like educational institutions of the time) by F.W. Cumberland and Thomas Ridout. The Normal School was a two storey building that took three years to complete. The Normal School was for instruction of the pupil teachers by lecture, and the Model School, just north of it, was where they would practice teaching elementary school students.
The Normal School wasn’t solely dedicated to classrooms. The structure also housed the Council of Public Instruction chamber and the various branches of the Education Department. There was also a theatre, an art gallery, two rooms for a museum (which was open to the public free of charge), and a book depository. The property also contained fruit, vegetable, and botanical gardens, a small arboretum, and two acres for agricultural experiments.
The school opened on November 24th, 1852.
To see the Normal School model as well as images of the original building, please visit the Ryerson Archives & Special Collections located on the fourth floor of the Library.
And now, stay tuned for the second part of the history of the Normal School and why only its façade remains standing today.
As 2012 and the commemoration of the War of 1812 draws to an end, we invite you to take one more look back.
June 18th 2012 marked the two hundred year anniversary of the War of 1812. The War of 1812 was a military conflict declared by the United States onto Great Britain because the United States felt continuous economic restrictions and resistance to expansion from Great Britain. Invasions on both sides were either unsuccessful or temporary, and on February 20th, 1815, the Treaty of Ghent was issued and peace was restored.
Canada celebrates the war as laying the foundation for its future nationhood as well as its victory in preventing the United States from expanding onto its territory. Ryerson University is named after Egerton Ryerson, a great patron of the educational system in Canada. Egerton Ryerson became an honoured citizen for his contributions to his community, much like his father had but for different reasons. His father, Joseph Ryerson, served in numerous official capacities his entire life, being just fifteen years old when he joined the army for the first time.
In 1812, Isaac Brock served Joseph Ryerson a certificate of commission as the Lieutenant Colonel Commanding the First Regiments of the Norfolk Militia. His brother, Samuel Ryerson, also served in the war in repelling the American invaders as did Joseph’s three eldest of six sons, George, William, and John. Egerton’s young age prevented him from following in their footsteps and he instead focused on his studies, which led him to becoming a notable person as an educator, minister, and politician.
When the War ended, Joseph Ryerson and his family went on to continue life in the County of Norfolk. Joseph Ryerson handed in his letter of resignation in 1830 not out of an unwillingness to serve but from an inability to do so due to illness and advanced age.
The images above and below are from the Ryerson Family Papers. They are a collection of documents and correspondence of four generations of the Ryerson family, including that pertaining to Joseph Ryerson and his service in the War. His efforts during the War, as well as that of all those involved, are remembered and recognized two hundred years later and for many years to come.
They date back to the 12th Century and European knights. Knights painted them on their shields as a form of identification in battle. They have always been a symbol of honour, pride and bravery. Many governments have one as do many academic institutions. Ryerson University has one – an official Coat of Arms
Official coats of arms are made up of required components. Each component is a depiction of a particular group of people. The components typically are a central shield (or a military ‘coat’), two supporters on either side, a helmet or hat above with billowing fabric or ribbons, a twisted roll of fabric called a torse or wreath, topped off with a crest of any number of representations, for example an animal’s front half, top half of a human, a bird, or bird’s wings, etc.
The Back Story of Ryerson’s Coat of Arms
In the first year (1948) of Ryerson Institute of Technology, Howard H. Kerr, the school’s first and only principal, saw the school’s potential as a so-called “MIT of the North” and visited Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For Kerr, a coat of arms would be the symbol that would establish the school as a legitimate institution.
So inspired by MIT, Kerr borrowed their motto Mente et Manu (With Mind and Hand). However, officially belonging to MIT, the motto was changed by 1950 to a similar version, Mente et Artificio (With Mind and Skill). Both were used on crests, such as the one below:
Ryerson’s First Crest
Ryerson’s second crest
Proceeding to apply for an official coat of arms in the 1960s, Kerr found himself persuading the College of Arms in London, England that Ryerson was worthy of its own unique design. It was granted in 1966.
And so, with Ryerson having its own official identity and coat of arms, coupled with the reputation of a sound fully-rounded technical education, recognition grew. The number of Ryerson applicants for the fall of 2012, as reported soon after the January 11, 2012 deadline, was for the first time the highest in the province at 40,553.
What follows is an explanation of Ryerson’s coat of arms and what Ryerson stands for and the coat of arms below of reference.
Torches: (Appears on both rams) The symbol of light, education, liberty, and increasing knowledge.
Lamp of Learning: (Appears on the shield) The symbol of intelligence and giving forth the flame of the spirit within. It is the light in the darkness, a symbol for inspiration.
Set Square: (Used for technical drawings; appears on shield) The symbol of artifact, construction, building, the practical and material.
Leaves: Maple leaves, representing Ryerson’s Canadian heritage.
Rams: (Two are supporters and one is the crest) The ram, or aries, is a constellation representing our creative impulse through which potential becomes actual. In astrology, the aries governs the head and the brain.
Motto: Mente et Artificio
While the coat of arms is reserved for use by the Chancellor’s Office and President’s Office, it is found in a number of places. The symbol is used for various official scholarly documents, but cannot be used for general information pieces such as flyers and brochures. If one would like to use a replication of the coat of arms, special permission must be requested.
You may also have seen the coat of arms or the crest on items such as university jackets, pins, and plastic book bags. Samples of some of these can be found at the Ryerson Archives; here are two clothing crest:
As there has only ever been one official coat of arms for Ryerson, other emblems of note were used before its creation. Below are some examples of related symbols of the past used to represent Ryerson:
This symbol contains the main heraldic symbols of the coat of arms. In this case, there is only one ram. (from the Academic Calendar covers 1965-66)
To see samples of the Ryerson coat of arms and related symbols and documents, or for more information, please visit the Ryerson University Archives located on the third floor of the library, open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
There has been a continual trend in the yearning for the representation of truth and the real within photography, and seeing an image in three dimensions is the ultimate depiction of reality. In 1838, a year before Daguerre’s official announcement of the discovery of photography, Charles Wheatstone provided the scientific basis for stereoscopy, or 3-D imaging, showing how the brain operates to allow us to see in three dimensions. Stereoscopy led photographers one step closer to accurate representation of the real world by mimicking how our eyes function.
Stereographic cards contain two separate images of the same scene, but from slightly different viewpoints, printed next to each other and corresponding the spacing of the eyes. The left picture represents what the left eye would see and the right picture represents what the right eye would see. Viewed through a stereoscope, the pair of two-dimensional images merges together into a single three-dimensional photograph.
Following are are some of the stereo viewers and 3-D cameras from the Ryerson Library Special Collections.
The Holmes stereoscope is a later version of the original stereoscope from the 1840s but was the most common one from 1881 until 1939. The stereoscope is not a camera but is a device for viewing stereographic cards. Without a stereoscope, the viewer must cross or diverge his or her eyes so that a central, third three-dimensional image appears.
Stereoscopes were used in homes, schools, and churches, and covered every subject imaginable from astronomy to pornography.
Tru-Vue was a company that made binocular viewers and stereoscopic filmstrips. It began in 1931 and was purchased by Sawyer’s in 1951 – the manufacturer of the View-Master. Both the Tru-Vue and the View-Master were manufactured into the 1960s. Paired mounted slides, photographed on consumer cameras, are fed through the viewer, and, when held up to the light, the image appears in 3D.
The View-Master is a device from the 1950s used to view stereo images mounted in a paper disk containing fourteen film slides in pairs (and thus seven three-dimensional images). Though the View-Master is now marketed to children, it was originally oriented toward adults as the slides included educational and tourism content.
By the 1920s, movies and other media supplanted stereoscopic images as the leading photographic medium. There was a resurgence of stereoscopy in the 1950s when stereo cameras were introduced to the public by a number of manufacturers.
The Kodak Stereo camera was produced between 1954 and 1959. The dual lenses fire at the same time, creating an image for the right eye and one for the left. It was easy to use, allowing anyone to make their own 3-D photographs on 35mm slide film.
The Stereo Realist was the most popular 35mm stereo camera of all time. It was produced from about 1947 to 1971. It attracted celebrities throughout the 50s and its popularity continued on into the 60s. Harold Lloyd, a silent film star, formed a stereo camera club and was the most notable user of this camera. He shot portraits of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page. Stereo advertisements of the time featured celebrities such as Vincent Price, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Doris Day, and Frank Capra, among others.
There was another revival of stereoscopy in the 1980s when point-and-shoot stereo cameras were introduced, but most suffered from poor optics and plastic construction, so they did not gain the popularity of the 1950s cameras.
The Nimslo 3D camera was produced in 1982 by Nimstec and was the first consumer-level 3D camera of the 1980s that used 35mm film and that was easily portable. Four images are taken simultaneously, creating two 3D images per photograph. It was discontinued in 1990.
Nimslo went bankrupt and was sold to Nishika in 1989. They introduced the four-lens Nishika N8000, the first Nimslo clone. It features a plastic body with plastic lenses, a fixed shutter speed, and 3 aperture settings. It is also focus-free. It uses standard 35mm film and creates lenticular images, which do not require a special viewer to see the 3D image. Four photos are taken simultaneously from four slightly different angles.
The FED Ctepeo is a Russian stereo camera. It uses standard 35mm film to produce two images of 24x30mm per exposure.
As an impressive and entertaining illusion, stereoscopy quickly became an ongoing trend and the technique is still catching people’s eyes today!
If you would like more information on any of the special collections in the Ryerson Library please drop by the 4th floor of the library, or make an appointment: email@example.com. You can search our collection online here.
An important component in defining the post-secondary experience is being able to take part in a club, sport, or other form of organization. Circle K International is the largest service-oriented, leadership-training, collegiate organization in the world and is a member of the Kiwanis International’s sponsored program. It is the university level of the Kiwanis Club but it maintains self-direction from its sponsor. There are currently over eleven thousand members in over five hundred colleges and universities worldwide.
Ryerson’s Circle K Club belonged to the Eastern Canada and Caribbean District, one of the oldest districts. It was chartered at Ryerson on February 16, 1955 and became the second Circle K Club of the district. Ryerson’s Circle K Club included the clubs of Waterloo, Western, and Queen’s Universities as well as Ridgetown, Fanshawe, and Chicoutimi Colleges. It was the oldest continuous club in the district until it became inactive in 1988.
Circle K was:
A student movement: Students were becoming more and more interested in their environment and the surrounding issues such as lower school spirit, lack of trust in the government, and uncertainty for the future. Circle K allowed students to help shape their environment.
A people organization: People are both the cause and cure of problems. Circle K was interested in helping find a better life and a better world.
Involved with environmental, community, health, and student concerns. It raised funds for activities and charities and also attended to social issues on campus and in the community.
The Circle K Club meetings were public and any student could join as long as they had good character and an adequate academic standing. They held a weekly one-hour meeting, which was the minimum involvement for maintaining membership.
The motto for Circle K is “We Build”. The 1980 Ryerson Circle K President, Mark Donner, said the “main goal is to develop brotherhood and fellowship” through helping people.
Some of the main objectives of Circle K were to:
give primacy to human and spiritual rather than material values of life
encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships
develop a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship
promote the advantages of the democratic way of life
encourage the application of higher social and professional standards
participate in group activities, creating sound public opinion and high idealism
The Circle K Club at Ryerson found many ways of being involved. They organized dance marathons, car rallies, charity casino nights for cystic fibrosis, Shinerama, movie screenings, luncheons, parties, and blood drives at the school and provided funding for first year students with financial difficulties. One of their first campaigns was a safe driving campaign among students and staff.
Other events were bingo nights at a senior citizens’ home, sports nights at a local youth club, activities for mentally and physically disabled children, and career night for the Parkdale Boys and Girls Club. They aided organizations such the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, the Big Brother and Big Sister Programs, and the Endangered Animal Sanctuary.
One of Circle K’s major advocacies was the blood clinics since the clinics first came to Ryerson. As incentives to donate blood, the Club issued prizes such as trophies, monetary awards, and dinner for two during their “bleed off” contests between course unions.
What was once a club with as many as thirty-five members in the mid-1960s became a club with only six members by the 1980s. Low revenue at fundraisers as well as low turnout at clinics were partly the result of this lack of internal participation. Chuck Menezies, the 1978 Circle K Vice-President, attributed the demise to the club’s straight image as well as to the growing influence of the Student Union.
The Student Union became the leading campus organization and soon became involved with tasks that Circle K had been handling previously. They took over management of the used book store, the cloak room, the lost and found, and helped organize the blood clinics. The interest in and influence of the Circle K Club diminished and by 1988 the club was abolished.
For more information, please visit Archives and Special Collections on the 4th floor of the library.