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.