Regina College one hundred years ago.

By Dale Johnson Posted: August 21, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Students and staff saw big changes in the fall of 1915.
Students and staff saw big changes in the fall of 1915. Photo courtesy of University of Regina Archives.

A century ago, there was new optimism at Regina College.

One hundred years ago – on Aug. 21, 1915 – the Regina Leader newspaper reported: “When the doors of Regina College are thrown open next month for the commencement of the fall term, the institution, which has made a name for itself among the halls of learning in Western Canada, will start out on one of the most promising years in its history.”

This was a change, because Regina College had gone through some tough times since it opened in 1911.

A recession in 1913 meant that many people who promised to make donations were unable to do so. The outbreak of World War I made matters worse. One president was dismissed, and his replacement left soon after arriving.

“The financial position of the college in common, it is believed, with all other such institutions in Canada, is a matter of concern,” the Leader said.

The turnaround began on July 1, 1915, when the Reverend Ernest William Stapleford became president.

“With an almost complete re-organization of the staff, with Rev. Prof. E.W. Stapleford B.A., as President of the College, the prospects for the future are very bright indeed,” the Leader said.

An advertisement in the Leader said “The Best Investment for your son or daughter is a course at Regina College. Special attention is paid to the physical and moral welfare of the students.”  Classes were to begin on September 28th, although some students arrived later, because Regina College offered a “special course for farmers’ sons November 15th.”

“Prof. Stapleford is particularly fitted for the work which has undertaken,” the paper reported. And he would prove this was true during his 20-year career as head of Regina College. He launched an effective fund-raising campaign; strengthened ties with the Regina business community; recruited top teachers; and ensured additional construction along College Avenue.

“More than any other individual, Dr. Stapleford was responsible for the success of the college,” writes James Pitsula in his book An Act of Faith – The Early Years of Regina College.

Each winter, the Faculty of Arts presents the Stapleford Lecture.

And a century after Dr. Stapleford settled in the stately red buildings along College Avenue as the new president of Regina College, the College Avenue Campus is being renewed.