Celebrating the first 50 years of Regina College

By Dale Johnson Posted: May 27, 2016 3:40 p.m.

During the academic year in 1960-1961 students at Regina College marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the institution.
During the academic year in 1960-1961 students at Regina College marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the institution. Photo: U of R Archives

It was 55 years ago this month that Regina College marked its first half century with a special graduation ceremony that put the college’s history in the spotlight.

“The colourful jubilee year celebrations at Regina College ended Wednesday night with an impressive graduation ceremony for some 150 students,” the Leader-Post reported on May 4, 1961.

This was in an era before degrees were offered in Regina; the students received certificates.

At the graduation ceremony held at Darke Hall,  the Leader-Post reported that Dean W. A. Riddell, “brought his audience up to date on recent events and activities of the college, which have helped make the jubilee year a successful one. ‘It is interesting to note that the things that have been stressed since 1934 had their origins in the early days of the college,’ Dr. Riddell said. Art and music had been emphasized from the very beginning, and special programs for adults began within a few years of the opening. Night classes and summer schools were introduced ‘years ago,’ the dean said.”

Among the dignitaries on hand were Regina Mayor Henry Baker and Education Minister (later Premier) Allan Blakeney.

Everyone who had attended Regina College during its first five decades was invited to return to Regina for the “Home Coming” celebrations, where they could meet former classmates and see how things had changed.

One of the people who traveled to Regina for the golden anniversary was Hal V. Hunt – the second person to register at Regina College in 1911.

He later earned a law degree and settled in Van Wert, Ohio. He retired in 1955.

In an interview with the Leader-Post, he talked about the earliest days of Regina College. He recalled when classes were first held in the old hospital building a few blocks away – before the College Building was ready. He also recalled working on the new facility.

“I helped plant a large tree in front of the college,” he said.

He also talked about how he helped to lay some of the bricks on the new College Building.

As well as coverage of graduation exercises, a glance through the Leader-Post from that time shows how much Regina had changed from 1911 – and how much it has changed since 1961.

  • There was one TV station – which signed on at noon each day – and programs included Bachelor Father, Dinah Shore and Red Skelton

  • Bob Hope and Lucille Ball were starring in The Facts of Life at the Capitol Theatre

  • A four-bedroom, two-storey home in Lakeview was up for sale for $14,000

  • A new Volkswagen cost $1,695; a return train ticket to Calgary was $22.50; and Tip Top Tailors advertised men’s suits for $64 and shirts for $2.88

  • The City of Estevan was advertising for teachers – with annual pay ranging from $3,000 to $7,560 depending on experience  

Among the news stories that same week as the graduation ceremony at Regina College: Alan Shepard became the first American to travel in space – a 15-minute flight that saw him travel 500 kms from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Sending a person into space in a rocket may have seemed unbelievable to some of those people who had gathered in Regina in 1961 to reminisce about the earliest days of Regina College 50 years earlier.

Now, at the majestic buildings that make up the College Avenue Campus, people are continuing to learn – and perhaps in half a century from now they may also look back on the quaint, old-fashioned, simple times of 2016, and be amazed at the latest developments in the world – and beyond.