University of Guelph alumni congregate in Gore Bay

Close to 30 alumni of the University of Guelph attended a reception in Gore Bay in late July.

GORE BAY—Oh the stories, the photographs and the memories shared of school days past, as about 30 graduates of the University of Guelph who live on Manitoulin Island gathered for a July 15 alumni reunion in Gore Bay.

“So many people from the Island have been to Guelph University, there are especially a lot parents and grandparents who went because Manitoulin always having been a big agricultural community,” said Carolyn Lane-Rock. While the university now has a wide range of disciplines for students to choose from, it was agriculture that was taken in the original days of the university that drew so many people from the Island, she said.

There were three generations of Runnalls at the reunion, including Oliver, Barb, Scott and his recently graduated son Cameron in attendance.

“Both my grandfathers, my dad’s brother, my wife Mary, myself, two sisters, two nieces, my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law all went to Guelph U,” said Manitoulin Ag Rep Brian Bell.

Jillian Santi, alumni advancement manager, alumni affairs and development at the University of Guelph, told the gathering, “I am a graduate of the University of Guelph myself. I hail from Lively and have had a lifelong love for Manitoulin Island.”

“This  is an amazing opportunity to be here today,” said Ms. Santi. “I’m glad to see all of you here today.  This reunion would not be possible without the work of Bill Sargant, who got the word out and organized this event. It is a real pleasure to be here.”

Mr. Sargant said, “I’m really glad all of you are here today. Thanks to Jillian and a couple of people from the university on this. I would like to explain how this event came about. My wife and I have been coming up to Manitoulin for 42 years. I usually wear a University of Guelph t-shirt over a long sleeve shirt or a hat. Anyway, for years people have stopped me on the street and in stores saying, ‘I went to the University of Guelph,’ or that their son or daughter went there.”

“Last fall I was talking to Amy Atkinson at the university and said the university should hold a reception on Manitoulin Island because there are so many alumni living here,” said Mr. Sargant. “I know they even have a reunion every year in Florida. So I asked, ‘why not here?’”

Mr. Sargant noted there are at least between 75 to 100 U of Guelph alumni in the 705 area code. After a couple more calls and emails the university agreed to a reunion being held, as long as he did the lion’s share of organizing it.

“So, I said I need to recruit some people to help me out and I contacted Oliver and Barb Runnalls, Brian and Mary Bell, Carolyn Lane-Rock, all University of Guelph grads, along with Maureen Armstrong, whose daughter got her masters degree in physics from the university. I recruited them and we worked on all the details.”

Mr. Sargant shared a story of when he started as a student at the university in 1965. “I came from Oakville and here I was living on the fourth floor of a dorm at the university. My roommate was Beverly McIver, a short guy who is bald and looks like Punch Imlach,” he quipped. “He was from Port Arthur, was married and had two kids. He was an adult returning student and here we were living in the main residence on campus. He just couldn’t sit still. He couldn’t study, because he was worried since he hadn’t attended school in so long. Well, anyway, one day I said to him you have to sit still for 20 minutes so I could study because he was walking around and couldn’t stay still.”

“We’ve been friends ever since. He credits me for helping him pass in university because I taught him studying skills,” said Mr. Sargant. “I credit him for providing me life skills. I learned more about life from him than any sociology or psychology course I ever took.”

Everyone was asked to share stories if they wanted to and there were stories about the large cannon on campus being fired off, a weekend trip in which two campus residents found all their furnishings and belongings in the dorm washrooms and several more humourous stories.

The University of Guelph is unique in Canada with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students at campuses in Guelph, Toronto and Ridgetown, including 1,200 international students from more than 100 countries. There are more than 140,000 alumni living in 150 countries.

Guelph has a wide range of disciplines, including physical and life sciences, arts and humanities, social sciences, business, agricultural and veterinary sciences. Manitoulin Island is home to many Guelph graduates and students. Also, former residents that attended Guelph return to the Island regularly to visit family and friends.