UVic Torch -- Spring 2003
Autumn 2003,
Volume 25, Number 1

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Photo UVIC ARCHIVES 001.0700

The New Collegians, 1903 - 04. Back row, left to right: Clifford J. Rogers, Principal E.B. Paul, Frederic G.C. Wood, Joseph B. Clearihue. Front: Sara Spencer, Kate Pottinger, instructor Rosalind Watson, Lilian Mowat and Josephine Wollaston.

On August 29, 1903 the Victoria daily colonist featured a front-page photo of the America's Cup Race in New York between the Shamrock III (owned by popular Irish tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton) and the US-owned Reliance, the biggest boat ever built for the competition.

THE SATURDAY PAPER, AS IT HAD ALMOST DAILY, covered the darkening crisis in the Ottoman Empire. The BC Electric Company advertised regular car service to Oak Bay and Willows-"both within easy distance of the favourite camping resorts." And there was an account of an event the previous that the city had waited a long, long time for-the official opening of Victoria College.

Under the headline "Victoria College Commencement," the paper said that "the Assembly Hall was well filled with students and their parents and friends. The platform was prettily decorated, and there was a lavish display of flowers. It was now possible, [Principal E.B. Paul] said, for pupils to do the equivalent of two years' work at McGill."

On that summer day the college's first students, all seven of them, assembled alongside younger counterparts from the high school. The college had no place of its own. There were no lecture halls and only a handful of reference books. But their courses were sanctioned by "Mother McGill" and for the first time since the Hudson's Bay Company founded Victoria 60 years earlier, the city's residents had direct access to post-secondary education.

Look into the eyes of those pioneering students in their class photo and you see looks of confident determination. Flanking Principal Paul and instructor Rosalind Watson, the new collegians project youthful formality with their serious mouths closed, attired in dark suits and ties or long, elegant white dresses.

There is something of those earliest days-the same spirit of educational pursuit and camaraderie-that reinvigorates the modern campus with every new school year. And in that spirit we look back at Victoria's amazing first century of post-secondary education through personal stories of people, events, and breakthroughs that have shaped the university along the way. Thanks for reading.

The Seven Flames editor's column is named for the seven flames of the torch in the university's coat of arms. e-mail: mmcneney@uvic.ca

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