I attended London's UWO in the early 60s when North American was about to dramatically change, sometimes, not so quietly. UWO offered students a compact, attractive campus with striking gothic architectural buildings enhanced by ample greenery and the Thames River that ran through the site. Like the city itself at the time, UWO radiated a small town feel to it. I enjoyed Western; I liked its silly song: "Arts and Meds are strong for you..." I liked meeting people not from Toronto, my hometown. I liked the way the city spread wide with myriad parks and ample trees and snow, my goodness, what colossal snow!
I loved playing football for the 'Stangs. There were only four teams in our league then - Queens, McGill, U of T and us, and every game was therefore titanic. I loved playing Queens who were very strong, and playing them made me a much better athlete.
I liked drinking beer and attending frat parties and meeting lovely ladies, but what I love most was meeting my wife in the Somerville House coffee shop during the last week of my last year. We waltzed in vibrant Victoria Park, cross-country skied on Springbank's delicious snow, and nearby at Stratford, imbibed intoxicating jazz from Dave Brubeck's famed quartet. Some cities are dramatic. They change your life; forever. We have been teammates ever since Western. This is our 46th season!
I like the way London
is professional but not pretentious. I like its business people. I like the way London presents itself to the world, the way it takes on big projects with enthusiasm and the strong work ethic embedded in the city. I liked the way it became
magical at night
I relished the
London Free Press
and Bob Gage, the Sports Editor. I liked the arts scene in London but was always too broke to take in much of it in those days. I suppose that I could have cut back on my beer intake.
I liked writing for the University newsletter, and I loved the acute activism interlaced throughout the
. I remember being in Somerville House the day
Kennedy was assassinated
and I recall how disillusioned we were that Camelot was so easily extinguished.
I loved being underage at the Ceeps and mixing with the working class drinkers at the Ox-Box, but again, maybe I should have cut back on the beer.
I love that my Existential Philosophy professor, Dr. Burke, came over when I asked him to counsel my roommate who was not faring well with his personal issues.
I love the colours purple and white.
I loved working construction for EllisDon one summer at Western thanks to my football coach.
I loved the thick English reference books in the Huron College library.
I enjoyed CKC (Christ the King College) my first year and being the only guy in a Shakespeare course taught by a nun at Brescia College, but nonetheless, was happy to transfer to UC to get into regular classes with ladies.
I liked returning to Toronto fewer and fewer times each year while at Western.
And now it's 50 years later, and I just attended the 50th anniversary of our 1963 football team, and my line coach Gerry Gonsor was there as well as our backfield coach Jack Fairs who is 90 years old!
The 'Stangs beat Queen's badly in the
scoring an appropriate 50 points, one for each year of our reunion!
Now, growth abounds in every direction with 12 faculties and schools. The University has consistently been ranked in the top ten in Canada, boasts a medical school that is world renown as well as a business school of the same ilk. The campus is crowded with buildings; London has also grown, but both remain fixed in my memory as wonderful places to spend the best four years of my early life!
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.
London is a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, situated along the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. The city has a population of 366,151 according to the 2011 Canadian census. London is at the forks of the non-navigable Thames River, approximately halfway between Toronto, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. The City of London is a separated municipality, politically separate from Middlesex County, though it remains the county seat.
London has grown to be the largest Southwestern Ontario municipality, and Canada's 15th largest municipality. The city has developed a strong focus towards education, health care, tourism, and manufacturing.
London is home to the University of Western Ontario.