Feature from the Collections: Who is this man in the Archives?

Peter. It’s his name. An interesting fellow, don’t you think?

The Dream That Fagged Out” is Peter’s official title. The word fagged in historical usage means completely exhausted, and there certainly seems to be a weight on Peter’s shoulders. “The work is so successful in its depiction of human despair and misery that no one at Ryerson has been able to keep it for long.” [The Lectern, October 1975, Works of Art docfl.]

Peter, as he’s known, was given his nickname soon after arriving at Ryerson in 1967. He resided in the reception area of President Fred Jorgenson’s office, then in Kerr Hall South.

He was created by artist Julius Damasdy, (1937/38 –  ) in the late 1960s and was anonymously donated to Ryerson by a founding member of the Board of Governors, Franc Joubin, who acquired him from a show of the Ontario Society of Artists. Peter is part of the university’s art collection.

After two years of dismally greeting staff and visitors alike, Peter was moved to where he could cheer up the students. What better place than the Library (located, then, in the former Business Building, now the Victoria Building).

General feelings were:

  • “[I] couldn’t stand the sight of Peter staring at [me] every day.” – 1969, executive staff
  • “I can’t stand him staring at my face whenever I come out of the elevator.” – 1969 library staff

When the Library moved to its current location in the Library Building in 1974, Peter insisted he come along. His new home was in a semi-dark area (they tried to hide him) near the 2nd floor elevators.

Peter got a medical diagnosis in the mid 1970s by a some Ryerson nursing students which they posted on him stating, for example, he suffered from: Malnutrition, Scoliosis, Stove Pipe Legs, Middle Age Spread, Facial Paralysis, and other interesting ailments.

Finally, in an attempt at banishment, Peter was offered to the Archives in the mid 1970s. He was cheerfully accepted and has been in safekeeping since, still creeping-out Archives staff and a few researchers.

To meet Peter, read his other ailments, and decide if he has any creepy or otherwise ill effects on you, feel free to come to the Archives on the 3rd floor of the Library. He will be happy to see you!

The Ryerson University Archives
3rd floor of the Library
Monday to Friday – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You can also visit our new Archives & Special Collections website and online database.  Please note the both are still in development.  http://www.ryerson.ca/archives/.