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