Assistant News Editor
If McMaster University were a human being, they’d probably be dead. That’s because 125 years ago, the school celebrated its modest but nascent beginning.
Arising in 1881, McMaster was financed as a Christian educational centre that focused primarily on theological training. Senator William McMaster, after whom the University is named, endowed much of these funds to house classes in Toronto. It wasn’t until 1890, however, that the first degree programs were offered.
The next year saw subtle but important changes. 1892 ushered in McMaster’s first school cheer that bubbled with off the wall one-liners like “Boom on Star!” and “Boom! Fitz! Boom!” Sixteen students composed the first graduating class in 1894. The school colours were switched from a plaid eyesore of green, yellow, red and blue to the more familiar maroon and grey in 1912. Finally, in 1930, McMaster moved to its permanent home – the Steel City, Hamilton.
By no means does this brief snapshot offer a comprehensive history of McMaster. It barely scratches the surface. There were numerous accomplishments in education and research. There were times of uncertainty and hardship. There were harrowing accounts of students being drafted into the Great Wars proud but never returning.
All of these events, for better or for worse, compose McMaster’s history. Without them, McMaster’s current structure would seem arbitrary and perhaps even asinine.
The 125th celebration is meant to highlight this rich historical context. As an important milestone, the festivities will extend throughout the year. Many unknown contributions from both students and faculty will be recognized, as will the many necessary steps to create such an upstanding institution of higher education.
An anniversary committee presided by Karen McQuigge, director of McMaster’s alumni advancement area, will organize many of the celebrations. “There’s a lot to celebrate here and that’s exactly what we hope to do this year,” she said.
This goes without saying. In 125 years, a lot can happen. Every year, there was a new story. Every year, there were new students. (And every year since 1930, the Silhouette was there spearheading news at McMaster.)
But the Sil is one of many integral parts to McMaster. There is the McMaster Alumni society, the McMaster Students Union, the Student Representative Assembly, Froshweek, Homecoming, University Hall and so much more. Undoubtedly, McMaster is a budding place. Its incipient beginnings were the origin of all of things McMaster and they will be the impetus underlying another successful 125 years. “Boom! Fitz! Boom!” Indeed.