Re­mem­brances of SDU

Remembering fel­low Saint Dun­stan’s friends and fac­ulty as SDU, UPEI and PWC celebrate re­union week­end

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL - GUEST OPIN­ION Don Kawaja, for­mer en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor at Saint Dun­stan’s Univer­sity, now lives in King City, Ont.

Some 55 years ago, I left the in­sti­tu­tion then known as Saint Dun­stan’s Univer­sity (SDU) af­ter serv­ing as a pro­fes­sor in its nascent en­gi­neer­ing pro­gram for two years, 1958-60. I re­placed my good friend, Clair ‘Copie’ Cal­laghan (SDU ’53), with whom I shared aca­demic years (and so­cial times) at St. F.X. in Antigo­nish and Nova Sco­tia Tech. in Hal­i­fax (Tech’56). Copie was off to grad­u­ate stud­ies at MIT and I was on leave of ab­sence from in­dus­try in Canada.

In the sum­mer of 1960 I mar­ried an Is­land girl, Mary MacCor­mack ( PWC ‘56). We have been blessed with chil­dren and seven grand­chil­dren. We have of­ten va­ca­tioned on the Is­land in sum­mer, though more fre­quently when long drives were not as chal­leng­ing.

As a re­cently minted oc­to­ge­nar­ian, my thoughts turn to the two won­der­ful years spent at SDU, as I plan to at­tend part of the UPEI/SDU re­union this com­ing week­end.

In the late 1950s, the fac­ulty con­sisted of a ma­jor­ity of clergy with a sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity of lay profs and in­struc­tors. As a bach­e­lor, I had the good for­tune (and eco­nomic ad­van­tage) to live on cam­pus, so I got to know, pretty thor­oughly, some very able, and funny ‘ men of the cloth’.

Some of the fac­ulty that I in­ter­acted, with along with the as­so­ci­ated mem­o­ries, are in­cluded in the fol­low­ing.

I ap­pre­ci­ate that many, in­deed most, are likely de­ceased so please for­give my lack of dis­tinc­tion in that re­gard:

Mgr. John (Red Jack) Sul­li­van was rec­tor/pres­i­dent. I re­mem­ber him as a ca­pa­ble ad­min­is­tra­tor, and a pleas­ant man who hired me at SDU.

Fr. Ge­orge Mac­Don­ald, ( physics) was a fel­low aca­demic‘tech’. We shared a few games of golf and many games of 45’s. He was posses­sor of a good wit, with ter­rific hand-to-eye co­or­di­na­tion, he rep­re­sented Canada on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions in ri­fle shoot­ing and be­came univer­sity pres­i­dent in 1963.

Frank Led­well, a ver­i­ta­ble ‘man for all sea­sons’ with an un­canny bal­ance of right and left brains. Coach of the var­sity hockey team, English prof and later Is­land poet ex­traor­di­naire, he also taught rech­ni­cal draft­ing I and II, much to my re­lief. We spent two years toil­ing to­gether for the engi­neers’ in­ter­class hockey team, where he was a stal­wart on de­fence.

Other clergy profs in­cluded Fred Cass (chem­istry), gen­er­ous and at times, a real char­ac­ter; Fr. Bol­ger ( history), one of P.E.I.’s best known and loved his­to­ri­ans. Fr McGuigan (re­li­gion) who al­ways saw to it that the coeds were fairly treated; Ed­mund Roche, (dean, math) who could be stern of vis­age but fair of mark. Adrian Arse­nault (arts and mu­sic) – a free thinker in a con­ser­va­tive age; Frs. Kelly and Allen were friends and spir­i­tual men­tors; Vince Mur­na­han (com­merce) was as­tute, level headed with a good sense of hu­mour as was Fr. Larry Lun­dri­gan. Fr Ellesworth ( bi­ol­ogy) was an in­tel­li­gent and gen­tle man who ex­uded char­ac­ter.

The bur­sar at the time was Fr. Bill Simp­son, funny, ca­pa­ble and di­rect, who later served as pastern of St. Dun­stan’s Basil­ica in ‘town’.

Among the lay pro­fes­sors were: my on-cam­pus fel­low bach­e­lor and math col­league, Gerry Arse­nault; Frank Zakem, fel­low phoeni­cian and a ‘peach of a man’; Bren­dan O’Grady (English) and John El­don Green, an early chal­lenger of Catholic hi­er­ar­chy and pas­sion­ate hu­man be­ing. Char­lie Camp­bell, Mike Hen­nesy oth­ers whose names I shame­fully can’t re­call – how did I leave the U with­out a year book? Must have been due to the up­com­ing march up the aisle to join ‘she who must be obeyed’!

Fi­nally, I had the hon­our to coach a fine group of young men, the Var­sity High School hockey team in the 1959-60 sea­son. I have a very good black and white team photo and hope to find a player or two this week­end who can iden­tify the en­tire team.

‘Oh when the Saints……’


The 1961-1962 team poses here with some of their fans and their coach, Fa­ther Frank Led­well.

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