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Three Class of 1954 Grads Celebrate 70th Reunion at Vic Alumni Lunch

Jun. 07, 2024
Victoria College Class of 1954 members J.Douglas Ross, Diana Bacon and Mary Eleanor Morris received 70th anniversary reunion medals at the 2024 Vic Honoured Years’ Lunch. (Photos by Minh Truong)

Victoria College Class of 1954 members J.Douglas Ross, Diana Bacon and Mary Eleanor Morris received 70th-anniversary reunion medals at the 2024 Vic Honoured Years’ Lunch. (Photos by Minh Truong)

By Joe Howell

It’s difficult to believe it’s been 70 years since Diana Bacon, Mary Eleanor Morris and J.Douglas Ross graduated from Victoria College in 1954. As the oldest alumni at the 2024 Vic Honoured Years’ Lunch, the trio were seated with Vic U President Rhonda McEwen, where they entertained the table with tales from their time at Vic in the 1950s. Between them, more than two centuries have passed since their undergraduate days—but listening to them reminisce, it’s as if it all happened last week. 
 
Bacon, Morris and Ross talked about teachers they loved and the famously strict librarian they avoided. They laughed recalling outrageous pranks: a stolen mattress lodged in a tree, the unauthorized painting of a residence, a Volkswagen somehow suspended from Old Vic. They remembered the taste of the coffee (terrible, by all accounts) and the thwack of tennis rackets on warm nights from the courts on the present-day site of the Isabel Bader Theatre (lovely). 
 
Bacon and Morris told of the day they met in 1951, at an event in Annesley Hall on their first weekend of school. “We’ve been friends ever since—and will be until the end,” Morris said with pride. 
 
Some stories showed just how much time had really passed. Bacon said her grandfather had been a student at Victoria when the college moved from Cobourg, Ont. in 1890. “I could fly a single-engine plane before I could drive,” Ross told the table, with someone joking Ross had his own landing strip on the roof of Burwash. Morris and Bacon lamented the fact that women were not allowed to dine in that same building when they were students.  

At other tables, alumni celebrating their 50th, 55th, 60th and 65th reunions held similarly spirited conversations. 

Rhonda McEwen.

President McEwen welcomed the attendees back, highlighting what’s changed on campus in the intervening years. “Burwash Dining Hall is now co-ed, with young men and women eating together every day,” she said, to mock gasps from the audience. “And our head chef Antwann Hutchinson is highly trained in French cuisine, so the students aren’t just getting spaghetti and meatballs.” She described how Burwash now accommodates wider tastes, offering halal, kosher, gluten-free and vegetarian options. 

President McEwen also detailed efforts to make campus more accessible, including a ramp being constructed to the High Table in Burwash. “You’ll see a lot of scaffolding around if you walk about—we’re doing quite a lot! There are so many exciting things happening at Vic, and I look forward to getting a chance to chat with you and to hear more about what you’ve been up to since you left,” said McEwen.

David Farrington.

David Farrington Vic 7T4, who worked for decades as a civil servant before his retirement, spoke on behalf of the Victoria College Class of 1974. “When I look back at ’70 to ’74, life was very different than what it is now,” he said. “Nobody had cell phones; there was no email or internet or social media. Hey, that actually sounds pretty good!” he joked. 
 
He recalled some news from the time: “The Beatles broke up. The CN Tower was being built, and every year I was here it got taller. I remember there were widespread debates over Quebec nationalism, civil liberties and national unity in the wake of the October Crisis, which happened just a month into my first year. The feminist movement was in the news, there were growing protests over the Vietnam War, and then came the Watergate scandal.” 
 
Farrington also explained why he has been a donor to Vic every year since graduating. “I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Vic alumni who came before me and who had the foresight and goodwill to set up in-course scholarships and bursaries to help students complete their studies. I was lucky enough to win two of them during my time here, and they were a tremendous boost to my morale.” 
 
“I’m confident that such initiatives as Vic One and Vic Ready are really helping today’s students to develop resilience, flexibility and adaptability,” continued Farrington. “I only wish that I was a student here today! I invite each of you here to reminisce and celebrate your time at Vic, and to continue your enthusiasm for Victoria College and the excellent and ever-evolving liberal arts education that it champions.”


To stay informed about Alumni Reunion 2025, please contact Helena Herscovici, alumni affairs officer, at h.herscovici@utoronto.ca or 416-585-4503.

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