Growth and complexity

Engineering building under construction

Aerial view of Engineering II, as it’s now called, under construction in the spring. The landmark at upper left is the Waterloo water tower, no longer bearing the historic legend BEER. That term the co-op department was boasting 100 per cent placement for the 318 engineering students who were out on work terms.

A thousand students hit the Waterloo campus in January 1961 - a thousand of them, where three years previously my neighbours hadn't added up to a thousand even if you counted foxes, badgers, muskrats and rabbits all together. The new university was growing fast: 890 students was the official count for the October term (there were still four co-op terms a year, remember) and it was 1,022 in January, including 142 new first-year engineers. There were also newcomers to the staff and faculty that winter: Pat Robertson showed up as assistant registrar for admissions - three decades later, he'd be a vice-president - and George Soulis, a former factory manager and lecturer in furniture design, arrived as assistant professor of mechanical engineering. The place was growing so fast that the public relations office (established early in 1961 on the third floor of Physics) posted a weekly list of new homes from the Kitchener-Waterloo House Builders Association, "for the convenience of new faculty and staff members".

And speaking of new homes: with the opening of Engineering II and Engineering III during 1961, the university doubled its floor space. That's if you don't count those shabby portable buildings, of course, the ones that had been trucked up Dearborn Street and set in place on Schweitzer farmland to house offices, student services and even some classrooms. Busy as the building program was, the university's leaders couldn't hope to get rid of the portables any time soon, and at the end of 1960 the board of governors set aside $50,000 for renovations in what were grandly called Annex I and Annex II, "to provide self-contained cafeteria facilities".

But Engineering II and III were the big news. "This project will complete the first quadrangle of teaching buildings on the campus which will include a landscaped area of 22 acres," said an announcement from Gerry Hagey, whose job wasn't getting any less busy. ("The President would like to keep the hour of 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. free for daily correspondence and other day-to-day business," said another bulletin, "and requests that appointments be made beween the hours of 10:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. only.") Hagey was proud of the $2.5 million engineering complex, pointing out that it would free some space in the Physics and Mathematics building that was being used for engineering labs.

"We will have a minimum of 400 students taking Arts and Science courses by 1962," he wrote, "and they will need increased classroom and laboratory facilities. We are now half way in the first major stage of our engineering program in which we estimate that ultimately some 1,600 students will be registered in all years of the course. The Engineering Building will be ready just in time for our first graduating class to use it for their senior undergraduate laboratory work."

And oh, there were committees: three separate committees to design a coat of arms for the university (even then, some people mistakenly called it a "crest"), a committee on "extension and adult education", a committee on building usage, two separate committees on library collections (Lyn Hemmerich had 5,000 books in the arts library by the end of 1960), a timetable committee, a "standing committee on engineering drawing", even a "committee on committees" in the faculty of arts. Anyone who remembers those early days at Waterloo as free-wheeling, entirely free of memos and meetings and red tape, is being a trifle selective with memory, if I may say so.

I know all these things not because I was always present (though I did drop by Seagram Gym for "the first edition of the Waterloo Spring Revue" on March 10) but because the wind occasionally shifted into the east and blew a sheet or two of the university's new Gazette down here in the direction of my creekside home. It wasn't anything like the newspaper it is nowadays - now that's litter, if you like, all those sheets of newsprint thrown around the campus! - but a modest newsletter reproduced by the "mimeograph" process, which I expect most of your students, and even the staff under about the age of forty, have never so much as heard of. The first issue, for some bizarre reason, was on 14-inch paper, but after that it switched to 11-inch. And through the winter and spring of 1961, I would see Gazettes every other Wednesday, bringing the thrilling news that David Sprott had been admitted to an associateship of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, and that "The University Glee Club entertained the Kitchener-Waterloo Rotary Club on February 13."

Certainly there were clubs at Waterloo by that time - and teams! Hard to believe, I know, but the basketball Warriors won the Ontario Intercollegiate Association championship with a 19-and-2 season that year. Dan Pugliese, a young man with his roots in St. Jerome's College, was the coach, and Don Brown was the trainer, at the beginning of what would be a very long season as athletics assistant, mascot and man-of-all-work. You perhaps understand these cultural subtleties better than I do: what's behind the inevitable association of basketball with Roman Catholic colleges, eh? Of course basketball was a natural for Waterloo, which had a gymnasium but didn't have much money for things like equipment and uniforms. Singlets come cheap compared to hockey gear, remember. The Warriors did field junior football and hockey teams, though; the gridiron team was cheered on to what was bravely called "a better-than- expected record" by arts freshettes Judy Boettger, Elsie May Hallman and Anne Chalmers. And it was announced in the spring that in 1961-62 Waterloo would be admitted to the "senior" league in basketball and hockey, with football to follow "in about two years".

The board of governors had a meeting in April and approved a budget for the coming year: $2,216,265 in operating expenses and more than that, some $3.3 million, in capital for buildings. Besides the work on Engineering II and III, there were other gleams in the Hagey and Needles eyes. For one thing, the faculty of arts (where Norman High of the sociology department took over from Keith Thomas as dean) needed a home of its own, somewhere to hold classes, give every faculty member a desk, and install that 18-unit language laboratory of which the infant university was so proud. So planning was under way for "Arts I", later to be called the Modern Languages Building even though a couple of the languages taught in it are far from modern. Or is it just possible that from the viewpoint of university administrators, Greek and Latin are in fact suspiciously modern?

I can't prove it, but I suspect that Gerry Hagey and some of the members of the board of governors - maybe A. R. Kaufman, the Kitchener rubber tycoon - had been down the road to Stratford in the summer of 1960 to see "King John" or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Festival. Somebody, certainly, was impressed with the Festival Theatre there, which had gone into use three years earlier, the same summer the "Waterloo College Associate Faculties" went into business. So when the plans for Arts I were ready in the fall of 1961 from Shore & Moffat, the architects who get the credit or blame for so much of the Waterloo campus, they included a theatre with a dramatic, even radical, thrust stage. The "Theatre of the Arts" was originally supposed to seat 392 people, but by the time it was built the capacity had been increased to 504, not counting the trolls watching from the vomitorium. It could be used for everything from music and drama to lectures. The place wasn't actually finished until the fall of 1962, when the Canadian Players came by with two professional performances, "Twelfth Night" and "Arms and the Man" - what serious, mainstream stuff universities did present in those days! In February of 1963, George Grant came from McMaster University to give the first public lecture in the new theatre, a talk on Simone Weil. I don't know whether it occurs to you that his grandfather was a builder of universities also: George Munro Grant, the great principal of Queen's University.

But that was 1963, and I'm still telling you about 1961, when Arts I was just in the planning stages, along with the original Renison College building and three buildings for St. Jerome's College. The official transfer of land was signed on August 30, turning over 23 acres of land to Renison, St. Jerome's, and two newcomers among the colleges, Conrad Grebel and St. Paul's United.

And through all of these developments, the university was sticking to its policy of close links with the community, both Kitchener-Waterloo and the rest of Canada. The "first annual University of Waterloo Church Music Workshop" in September brought 145 choir leaders to campus; Pete McBryde, the new dean of science, spoke in February to three branches of the Chemical Institute of Canada in Québec; Ralph Stanton, the new chairman of graduate studies, made his way up to Wingham in April to speak at the high school on "The Need for Academic Excellence". Perhaps most important, 75 high school principals, vice-principals and counsellors were enticed to Waterloo on March 28 for a one-day conference on grade 13 examinations. Those were still the days of the dreaded "departmentals", you'll remember. Administrators and faculty members alike realized that nothing, except perhaps money, was more important to the university's future than making the Waterloo name known to the people who could steer students in this direction in the years to come.

So that was the year 1961, though I've hardly touched on some of the things that happened, such as the creation of the university's first scholarship program, or the purchase of 18 acres of land along Dearborn Street, the property where the Married Student Apartments now stand. At the beginning of November the board of governors voted to expand the university's administration by appointing the first vice- presidents: Ted Batke of chemical engineering, with the "academic" portfolio, and Al Adlington, for "finance". The University of Toronto donated a thousand books to the fledgling Waterloo library, and the university was admitted to the National Council of Colleges and Universities of Canada. But all was not so harmonious; the board of governors politely "declined the invitation extended by Waterloo Lutheran University to conduct a joint fund-raising campaign".

And late in the year the university announced with actual pride that landscaping had been finished on "the University Lake, as yet unnamed", and paid not even lip service to the effect this new sheet of water was going to have on the habitat of trolls along Laurel Creek. That's always the Waterloo way, though, isn't it? Full speed ahead, and we'll iron out any problems later. . . .

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