Remembering the good old days at Fleming’s 50th Anniversary

Doug Lavery
Doug Lavery

Fleming College looked a little different 50 years ago. On September 1, 1967, Sir Sandford Fleming College opened its first campus, which had 29 faculty members and 235 students.

The McDonnel Street Campus was located in a renovated textile mill, the Bonner-Worth, in Peterborough, Ont. Doug Lavery was one of the College’s first teachers and said he installed the first computer on campus in 1967.

“It was an old wool mill and they converted it, and they did a fabulous job,” said Doug, who describes Fleming as a “great big family.”

After retiring in 2000 from teaching at Fleming, Doug was happy to return to celebrate the College’s 50th Anniversary at Sutherland Campus. He was also happy to reunite with some of his first students.

Judy Hoard (Airey) was one of these students and one of few females in the Business Administration program.

“I had a wonderful experience at Fleming. My teachers were wonderful and Doug Lavery was one of my teachers who I’ve stayed friends with ever since,” said Judy, who worked as an Advertising Manager at Sears for 11 years after graduating from Fleming in 1970.

“The college was purple and lime green. Everything was in colour in the late ‘60s,” she said.

(l-r) Bill Hinan, Judy Hoard, Tim LeClair, and Phil Heard; Class of 1970.
(l-r) Bill Hinan, Judy Hoard, Tim LeClair, and Phil Heard; Class of 1970.

In addition to attending school dances, Judy spent her extracurricular time cheerleading and playing hockey. “I never used boys hockey skates before and every time I’d hit someone I’d say ‘I’m sorry’ to them, because girls really didn’t do that stuff at that time,” she said.

Tim LeClair, Business Administration Class of 1970, said he helped create athletics and student life at Fleming in his role as first Student Administrative Council President.

“We had to create it all. We had to create two Athletic bodies – Men’s and Women’s teams – and we set up a newspaper and a yearbook,” said Tim, who named the school newspaper after winning a contest. He chose “PURPLE THORN” for the newspaper name because of the campus colour and because the newspaper (which often criticized Student Council) was a thorn to him.

Surprisingly, Tim ended up becoming good friends with the editor of the PURPLE THORN, Phil Heard, who was the second President of Fleming’s Student Administrative Council.

“Tim and I have stayed friends for 50 years. He was the best man at my wedding, godfather to my two children, I’ve worked for him and he’s worked for me,” said Phil, who works in the special events business in Vancouver.

“Fleming at that time was very purple and it was so much fun because it was so new,” said Phil, who graduated Fleming College in 1970 from the Business Administration program. “We did all kinds of things. We played bridge, there were excellent school dances organized by Tim— and everyone would go to the dances, it was that great of a school atmosphere. And we started hockey teams and other teams.”

In addition to all the fun, Phil also focused on academics. He was the first recipient of the IBM Proficiency Award in 1970, which included $300 and a job offer from IBM. Phil opted out of the job, though, as his long hair and relaxed style didn’t fit with IBM’s tie-wearing staff.

Phil and Tim were excited to explore Fleming’s Sutherland Campus and to reunite with peers at the 50th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, Sept. 22. They also helped spread the word about the event to fellow graduates.

Bill Hinan, a Civil Engineering Technology graduate from the Class of 1970, was one of the graduates they invited. But this isn’t the first time Tim informed Bill about something at Fleming.

“I thought I was too late to apply for college,” said Bill, remembering the summer of 1967. “Tim LeClair told me about Sir Sandford Fleming College and told me they have an engineering program.”

Bill, who was told “engineering is the best profession to get into” when he was five years old, had his heart set on going for this program. When Fleming accepted him, he was thrilled to start his career.

“The community college education system was suited to me and I did well,” said Bill. “I got a B average at Fleming College after spending seven years in high school. I spent seven years in high school, which meant that I failed a lot.”

Bill said the hands-on college approach suited him and he enjoyed his time in college, which is why he returned to catch up with his classmates at the anniversary event. The group all reunited in the foyer of the new Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre, armed with old documents and photos, happy to reminisce back to their Fleming years.

Ruixin (Rayna) Li feels like a ‘true Canadian’ after Fleming 50th Anniversary Night at the Peterborough Petes

Ruixin (Rayna) Li, left, beside SAC Student Services & Clubs Coordinator Sarah-Jayne Riley.
Ruixin (Rayna) Li, left, beside SAC Student Services & Clubs Coordinator Sarah-Jayne Riley.

Ruixin (Rayna) Li was excited to attend her first hockey game ever at Fleming 50th Anniversary Night at the Peterborough Petes, but it was made extra special for the Fleming International student because she got to perform the ceremonial puck drop.

Fleming 50th Anniversary Night at the Peterborough Petes was September 21st and recognized the College’s 50th Anniversary. Rayna, who is an International Student Ambassador at Fleming College and a Director on the Fleming College Student Administrative Council (SAC), was asked by Fleming SAC to drop the puck on the ice at the home opener game.

“I thought I just got free tickets, I didn’t realize I got to drop the puck until a few days before the game,” said Rayna, who moved from China to take Fleming’s Business Administration – Accounting program. “It’s like winning the lottery for me. My first hockey game and I get to drop the puck? It’s like a miracle.”

To prepare, Rayna researched hockey online and watched YouTube videos of the game. “I didn’t know how to drop the puck. Should I throw it like a basketball?” she said. After her research, Rayna felt ready.

“The act is simple but it’s so special to drop it in that moment because it is the College’s 50th Anniversary. Dropping the puck felt like a fresh start in that moment for the next 50 years of Fleming College,” said Rayna, who is in her second year of studies at Fleming College.

She thanks the College and Fleming SAC for the incredible opportunity. “I never thought I’d get to walk on a red carpet like a movie premiere,” said Rayna, referring to the red carpet laid on the ice for the ceremonial puck drop. “I called my mom and friends in China, and they’re all proud of me.”

Walking in front of a large crowd at a hockey arena would’ve been out of Rayna’s comfort zone just one year ago when she first came to Canada.

“When I was in China I was the quiet girl, and my first month here my English was so bad so I was quiet here too,” she said. “I stopped at the SAC Office asking how I could get involved. I wanted to improve my English and I was lonely because it was only my boyfriend [a Frost Campus GIS graduate] and I here.”

SAC helped Rayna get involved on campus and in the community through volunteer opportunities, which she said helped build her confidence. She took the Leadership program at Fleming, got hired as an International Student Ambassador, became a SAC Director, and got a part-time job at Burger King to earn extra money.

“Now I am very outgoing. It has also built up my time management skills,” said Rayna, who enjoys having a lot on the go. “I got the highest GPA in my first year and I do not find it stressful, it is a driving force for me. My English is good now, and Fleming College and SAC really helped me.”

In addition to thanking the College for helping her gain confidence, Rayna also credits Fleming for making her a hockey fan.

“I like it because it’s a fast-paced game and it’s a very Canadian game. The audience cheering feels very enthusiastic and positive,” she said. “My friend said I’m a true Canadian now.”

UFT students plant for the future on Fleming’s 50th anniversary


To celebrate Fleming College’s 50th anniversary, Urban Forestry Technician students Jessica Carthy and Tyler Petersen wanted to make a positive impact on the next 50+ years. After winning the Green Your Campus pitch competition, the students used the $1500 prize money to plant trees at Frost Campus.

“50 years is a long time if you ask me,” said Jessica. “Imagine what the 100th anniversary could be like if we plant more!”

Jessica and Tyler’s Green Your Campus pitch was to plant trees on campus in honour of Fleming’s 50th anniversary. The competition was co-hosted by Fleming’s Office of Sustainability, FastStart and the Trent Green Team, and featured 10 Fleming groups and 25 groups from Trent University. Projects were judged by Fleming and Trent faculty based on presentation and potential effect on meeting the college’s sustainability plan goals.

“It’s important to be staying just as green as we are gray,” said Jessica, who said her peers and professors air spaded and lifted a Kentucky Coffeetree last fall to another spot on campus to save it. “Planting trees is one of the best possible ways to help our environment. If there are trees, the insects, birds and animals will follow.”

Jessica and Tyler are increasing the tree diversity on campus with the help of Technologist Brian Saxon, using trees native to Canada and different from the existing inventory.

They decided to make the first trees planted extra special by planting them in honour of faculty members Katrina Van Osch-saxon and Tom Mikel, recognizing their excellence in teaching and passion for environmental studies. Jessica, Tyler and their Urban Forestry Technician classmates planted two Red Oak trees for Katrina and Tom because the species is hardy, native to Canada, and will thrive at Frost Campus.

Katrina thanked the students on behalf of herself and Tom at the Women in Trees event on Saturday, April 22. “We know it’s going to be planted right and pruned well,” said Katrina. “150 years from now they’ll be the two nicest trees on campus.”

Jessica said they are going to stretch the $1500 as far as possible, but hopes this idea can be used by other campuses as well. “We would love to see that more trees are planted to celebrate because future students will thank us for it,” said Jessica.


UFT students honour professors with Red Oak trees at Frost Campus


Urban Forestry Technician students had a special surprise up their sleeve for professor Katrina Van Osch-saxon and program coordinator Tom Mikel at the Women in Trees event on Saturday, April 22. The students announced they are planting trees in honour of Katrina and Tom’s teaching excellence and passion for environmental studies.

After the speaker panel, FastStart Fleming and the Office of Sustainability presented Urban Forestry Technician students Jessica Carthy and Tyler Petersen with a $1500 cheque for winning the Green Your Campus pitch competition.

faststart-presentationThe competition was co-hosted by Fleming’s Office of Sustainability, FastStart and the Trent Green Team, on March 11, 2017, and featured 10 Fleming groups and 25 groups from Trent University. Projects were judged by Fleming and Trent faculty based on presentation and potential effect on meeting the college’s sustainability plan goals. Jessica and Tyler’s pitch was to plant trees on campus in honour of Fleming College’s 50th anniversary.

While accepting the cheque, Jessica and Tyler asked their classmates to join them at the front of the Glenn Crombie Theatre at Frost Campus. Jessica announced that she and her peers would be planting the first two trees that day in recognition of Katrina and Tom for their passion in environmental studies, excellence in teaching, and creating opportunities for students.

“We are doing this for you Katrina, you are someone we admire a lot. You started Women in Trees last year and have grown it to be a wait-listed event,” said Jessica. “And Tom, you are someone we can come to with our ideas. Tom and Katrina, you work hard to see other people succeed. It is one thing to teach and another to inspire. Today two Red Oak trees will be planted where we’re doing our tree climbing. On behalf of the UFT class of 2017, we’d like to say thank you.”

The students decided to plant Red Oak trees because the species is hardy, native to Canada, and will thrive at Frost Campus.

“We know it’s going to be planted right and pruned well,” said Katrina, who thanked the students on behalf of herself and Tom. “150 years from now they’ll be the two nicest trees on campus.”

The students planted the trees while event participants enjoyed a tree climb in the beautiful weather. Women in Trees is organized by Katrina to showcase the variety of roles and opportunities for women in the fields of Urban Forestry, Forestry and Arboriculture.

Conservation students to honor college namesake in ‘Meet the Real Fleming’ exhibit

Fleming College namesake Sir Sandford Fleming is being honored during the 50th anniversary of the college. Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management students are curating the Meet the Real Fleming exhibit, which opens Saturday, April 1, 2017 during Fleming’s Spring Open House.

Sir Sandford Fleming
Sir Sandford Fleming

Sir Sandford Fleming was born in Kircaldy, Scotland in 1827 and moved to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in 1845, where he drew and printed the first map of the city. Sir Sandford was an engineer and innovator. He designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the Three Penny Beaver; led plans for the Intercolonial Railway, was director of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway; and invented Universal Standard Time, which was adopted worldwide in 1885.

In 1897, Sir Sandford was knighted by Queen Victoria for his accomplishments. The regalia he wore to the knighting are just some of the artifacts that will be displayed at the Meet the Real Fleming exhibit.

“We’re learning lots of personal stories about Sir Sandford that people may not know,” said Conservation student and Lead Project Manager Raene Poisson. “He saved a portrait of Queen Victoria from a burning building, which she mentioned at his knighting.”

Conservation student Raene Poisson
Conservation student Raene Poisson

Raene is excited for the exhibit and enthusiastically discusses the artifacts she and her classmates are working on in the Sutherland Campus Conservation Lab. In addition to his regalia, the exhibit will also display Sir Sandford’s brass rolling ruler, a ruler with visible (possibly Sir Sandford’s) prints on it, and a dress belonging to his wife (believed to be her wedding dress), among other items. These artifacts are normally on display at Hutchison House museum in Peterborough.

“The students are so enthusiastic about the topic and working with the personal effects of Fleming, the namesake of the college,” said Fleming Conservation program coordinator Gayle McIntyre. “The students have embraced the topic. It’s a complete synthesis of the curriculum; all of the courses come together. It shows teamwork and collaboration, time management, and research. The project is the perfect blend of art, science, engineering and creativity.’

Gayle McIntyre and Katie McEvoy

‘Students are experiencing back of house museum functions – such as the planning and preparation of the artifacts, and text for the exhibit – through to the front of house museum functions, including exhibit installation and public engagement,” said Gayle. “This class is rich in positive energy and fresh ideas. Faculty are proud of their efforts!”

Raene agrees. “Everything we’re taught in the program is used in this project,” she said.

Her classmate, Katie McEvoy, is part of the Interpretive Planning Group that helps promote the upcoming exhibit. Katie manages the Sir Sandford Fleming Twitter account, tweeting first-person as Sir Sandford to help others learn about him. Her team also chatted with Trent radio, held a bake sale, and made a Sir Sandford Selfie cutout for students to take cellphone pictures with.

“At the exhibit opening, I’m most excited to get feedback on our work,” said Katie, who will organize Sir Sandford-themed activities for children to enjoy at the April 1st event. “It’s our first time doing an exhibit start to finish, so receiving feedback from students and staff to see how we did will help us measure our success.”

The students have also been fundraising for the exhibit. On February 22, they hosted a bake sale in the Sutherland Campus main foyer to raise money and awareness of it.

Sutherland Campus Bake Sale
Sutherland Campus Bake Sale

One of the project managers at the bake sale was Lindsay Sisson, who said she hopes students will feel connected with Sir Sandford at the exhibit. “We’re hoping to connect with the student population by sharing what Sir Sandford was doing at our age and lesser known facts about him,” she said.

One Sir Sandford story the Conservation students adore is how Sir Sandford fell in love with his wife, Ann Jane (“Jeanie”).

“He was riding a horse-and-carriage with Jeanie when they crashed into a tree,” said Lindsay at the bake sale. “That crash was when Sir Sandford fell in love with her and they later married. Sir Sandford also used the tree stump to make a family picture frame.”

Weeks later in the Conservation Lab, Lindsay’s classmate Raene shares the same story as being her favourite Fleming fact. “The more I research about him, the more I fall in love,” says Raene. “I just love the story of how he fell in love with his wife!”

The students hope guests at the Meet the Real Fleming exhibit will feel the same.

Fleming 50th – Founders Series Part 1

Sir Sandford Fleming College has come a long way since officially opening its doors in the fall of 1967 – with an original intake of 235 full-time students.

It all began simply enough, in rooms rented above the old Colonial Coach bus terminal on King Street in Peterborough . The community would look quite different today if it weren’t for two influential people at the helm of the planning process: David B. Sutherland and Thomas H. B. Symons.

David, at one point confided in Tom that his reputation as a world traveler was largely derived from the fact that he was seen so often at the bus station.

The province of Ontario was creating a plan to implement a system of Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology in the early 60s as a way to further develop our educational system by providing differentiated curriculums for craftsmen, technicians and technologists.

The small community of Peterborough – a population of 23,000 at the time – had reached the decision that they wanted to explore the possibility of a post-secondary institution. Whether it was a College or University was yet to be seen. At the time, there were a number of communities throughout the Province vying for an institution, including the City of Oshawa, who were also very determined to have a College and a University. If certain factors like population, proximity to Toronto, and industry were the sole factors behind the decision making, then Oshawa would have been a more reasonable and sensible approach.

Yet, Peterborough was unwavering.
Enter the team of Tom Symons and David Sutherland. The two attended university together years prior, but now David was the Dean of Ryerson University and Tom the Dean of Devonshire House at the University of Toronto. The two had stayed in touch following their time together at University, however, their friendship hadn’t began to full take shape until a night out together in the early 60s.

David took Tom for a smashing night out on the town – the evening was full of great conversation and a fantastic dinner. Then came the end of the evening when David, of course, ‘discovered’ that he had no money and his wallet was nowhere to be found. Tom picked up the bill, happily, but it was that night that was truly the beginning of a prosperous and budding friendship that grew into the founding of two world-class post-secondary institutions: Sir Sandford Fleming College and Trent University.