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.
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.