Lakehead University - 50th Anniversary
Highlights From Our HistorySee our Milestones TimelineHighlights From Our HistoryIt's amazing what Lakehead University has accomplished with the support of its alumni and friends. Here are just a few of the highlights ...

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The 1940s

  • 1946
    • On June 4th, Lakehead Technical Institute (LTI) is officially established by an order-in-council of the Ontario Government. A two-year diploma program in Mining Technology and a two-year diploma program in Forest Technology are offered. First-year university credit courses in Arts and Science and Applied Science are introduced.
  • 1947
    • Dr. Melville W. Bartley is appointed LTI Principal. Later, he becomes the first Chair of the Lakehead University Board of Governors, serving from 1965-1969.

The 1950s

  • 1953
    • Nor'Wester, the first edition of the Lakehead University Year Book is published.
  • 1957
    • More than 200 citizens attend the official opening of the first Lakehead College of Arts, Science, and Technology (LCAST) building on Oliver Road. In 1981 the building is named in honour of Dr. Harold S. Braun, LCAST's first Principal.
  • 1959
    • LCAST is granted its Coat of Arms by the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk. The Latin motto Ad Augusta Per Angusta (Achievement through Effort) was suggested by Carlo Fonda, a Lakehead English professor. It is the password used by the conspirator in Giuseppi Verdi's opera "Ernani," which is based on a drama by Victor Hugo.

The 1960s

  • 1960
    • At the 1960 Convocation, The Honourable John Robarts, Minister of Education, announces that Lakehead will have a teacher's college by 1961.
  • 1964
    • The University Centre opens with a theatre, cafeteria, bookstore, and a 'Great Hall' called the Agora, a Greek word for "marketplace." The News-Chronicle describes the theatre as the "most modern theatre-lecture hall between London, Ontario, and Winnipeg." To celebrate the opening of this new building, there is a performance by soprano Lois Marshall and a display of 75 portraits by Yousuf Karsh.
    • Three off-campus courses in history, English, and philosophy are offered in 1963-64 in Kenora and Atikokan. Dr. Frank Doan travels to Kenora by train each week to lecture in Philosophy. The unreliability of train travel during the winter months becomes a problem.
  • 1965
    • On June 22nd, the Lakehead University Act is given Royal Assent. The first Convocation, however, is held on May 6, 1965 with Lakehead's first Chancellor, Senator Norman M. Paterson, conferring degrees and diplomas on 76 students in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Patricia Connor is the first student to receive a degree. William Tamblyn is President and Vice-Chancellor.
  • 1966
    • Professor Tom Miller is appointed Director of Summer School with 226 students taking 11 courses. Off-campus courses are offered in Dryden, Atikokan, Kenora, Nipigon, and Geraldton. A new three-story library opens, with an additional three stories planned.
    • A degree program in Nursing begins. Henry Akervall is appointed Director of Athletics, Eric Belton Chief Librarian, and Kenneth Morrison Director of Admissions and Part-time Studies.
    • The first edition of the student newspaper, The Argus, is published. 
  • 1967
    • The Lakehead hockey team becomes the first champion of the intercollegiate Hockey League and the ski team wins the Ontario Ski Championship.
    • The C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse opens, and is named in honour of the donor, Mr. C.J. Sanders.
  • 1968
    • Singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot performs at Lakehead. 
    • Lakehead awards its first graduate degree in English.
  • 1969
    • An order–in-council of the Ontario government transfers the Lakehead Teachers College to Lakehead University. Dr. James T. Angus is appointed Dean of Education.

The 1970s

  • 1970
    • Gord Garvie is appointed head coach of the men's wrestling program. He leads the team to the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) title over 10 consecutive years. He also coaches the team at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
  • 1971
    • Justice Bora Laskin, who later becomes Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, is appointed Chancellor in 1971. Bora and his brother Saul both grew up in Port Arthur and Fort William. In 1962, Saul becomes mayor of Port Arthur and in 1970, when the two cities are amalgamated, he becomes the first mayor of the City of Thunder Bay. 
  • 1972
    • A mace is used for the first time at Convocation in'72. It is a gift from the Alumni Association, designed by Ken Campbell, and constructed by John Butler, a senior technician in the Science Workshop. The head is comprised of four triangular specimens of ore mined in the region: silver, gold, nickel, and copper. Below the ores is a handle of silver which leads into a shaft of stainless steel surrounded by fluted bronze. Upon a narrow insert of silver is inscribed the motto of the University. The shaft ends in a boss of nickel-silver with an insert of local amethyst crystal. Each section of the shaft is separated by a small silver ring.
    • William G. Tamblyn steps down as President and Vice-Chancellor and is replaced by Andrew D. Booth who serves until 1978 when Dr. George A. Harrower is installed.
  • 1974
    • The Abitibi-Lakehead University Centre for Forest Resource Studies is established, the Athletics department is amalgamated with the Department of Physical and Health Education, and a two-year Native Teacher Education Program receives accreditation with Harold Linklater as its first Director.
  • 1975
    • Lakehead confers an honorary Doctor of Letters on Poet Miriam Waddington
  • 1978
    • Lakehead confers an honorary Doctor of Laws on Robert Andras, a Canadian politician in Thunder Bay who later holds cabinet positions in Pierre Trudeau's government.
  • 1979
    • An Alumni Office is created. Two years later, the Evans House on Oliver Road is turned over to the Alumni Association and a new Alumni Association constitution is approved.

The 1980s

  • 1980
    • Dr. Robert J. Prettie is appointed Chancellor
    • The Library is named in honour of Senator N.M. Paterson
    • The Senate approves the Centre for Regional Development, which has its own Board of Directors consisting of representatives from the Board of Governors, faculty, industry, and government.
  • 1981
    • In March, the Board of Governors and the Lakehead University Faculty Association (LUFA) sign their first collective agreement. The following September a collective agreement is signed with the Professional Librarian's Union.
  • 1983
    • Representatives from Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) approaches Lakehead University's School of Nursing to explore the feasibility of establishing a program to prepare Anishnawbe people for the nursing profession. Four years later, a Native Nursing Entry Program (NNEP) is introduced to prepare Aboriginal Students for admission to the Nursing Program and to support students in completing a four-year Nursing degree.
  • 1984
    • Dr. Robert E. Rosehart, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering, becomes the fourth President and Vice-Chancellor of Lakehead University. 
    • The first annual Alumni Association Award (a tuition scholarship) is presented to Thompson Campbell (Cam) McCuaig, a graduate of Winston Churchill High School in Thunder Bay.
    • Thirty-six Lakehead students, faculty, and staff set out on an epic adventure to mark the bicentennial of Ontario and the Great Northwest Company. They begin paddling voyageur canoes from Lachine, Quebec, in the spring of 1984 and arrive at Thunder Bay's Old Fort William in time for Canada Day celebrations. Thirty years later, in July 2014, they gather for a reunion.
  • 1987
    • Lawyer G. Bernard Weiler is installed as Chancellor
    • Journalist Douglas M. Fisher is given an Honorary Doctor of Laws.
    • The first group of international students from Gifu Shotoku Gakuan University in Japan arrive to take part for a residence program in Canadian Studies. The program continues on an annual basis for over ten years.
  • 1988
    • Politicians Jean Chretien and Stephen Lewis are awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws.
  • 1989
    • Lakehead students complete a 'Sea to Sea Expedition' travelling 3,500 km from Fort McMurray, Alberta, to Inuvik on the Arctic Ocean.
    • Biology student Robert Foster graduates and becomes Lakehead's first Rhodes Scholar. He is featured on the cover of the Nor'Wester alumni magazine. 
    • In November, the Centre for Northern Studies is officially opened at the conclusion of a three-day Circumpolar Conference at Lakehead.

The 1990s

  • 1990
    • The Northern Forests Ecosystems building opens 
  • 1991
    • The Health Education Resource Centre opens along with a 96-bed student Townhouse Residence.
    • The Share Our Northern Vision fundraising campaign kicks off in Toronto and in Thunder Bay. Six years later Lakehead announces the campaign raises $26.4 million and an additional of $6.6 million for the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund.
    • Astronaut Roberta Bondar is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science. 
    • The Very Reverend, The Honourable Lois M. Wilson is installed as Lakehead University's fifth Chancellor. She was elected president of the Canadian Council of Churches in 1976 and became the moderator of the United Church of Canada in 1980 --the first woman to hold office in each position.
  • 1992
    • An Honorary Doctor of Letters is awarded to musician Neil Young.
    • The Music and Visual Arts Building opens
  • 1993
    • The Avila Centre is purchased from the Sisters of St. Joseph. The building houses a 100-bed women's residence as well as offices for Alumni and Development.
  • 1997
    • Lakehead President Bob Rosehart steps down. Dr. John H.M. Whitfield, Vice-President (Academic), is appointed Interim President until Dr. Frederick J. Gilbert is installed as President and Vice-Chancellor in 1998.
  • 1998
    • Lakehead donates 60 acres of land north of Oliver Road for the site of the new Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. 
    • The Paleo-DNA Lab is awarded $1.23 million by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to develop the facility as a university-based enterprise.
    • Coach Francis Clayton leads the women's wrestling team to the first ever OUA women's championship. They repeat this achievement in 2000.
  • 1999
    • Lakehead donates three acres of land on Balmoral Street for the construction of a Northwestern Ontario Technology Centre.
    • The Ontario government grants $13.4 million for the construction of the $44-million Advanced Technology and Academic Centre (ATAC), which will include computer labs, smart classrooms, videoconferencing, and distance education facilities. The building opens for classes in 2003 and adds 1,377 new student spaces.

The 2000s

  • 2001
    • Varsity Hockey returns to Lakehead after an absence of 16 years and the men's team wins the Queen's Cup and places second at the CIS Championships. In 2009 and again in 2010 Lakehead hosts the CIS Men's National Hockey Championships in Thunder Bay.
  • 2002
    • In May Ontario Premier Ernie Eves pledges $95.3 million for the creation of a new medical school with campuses at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Laurentian University in Sudbury. Dr. Roger Strasser is appointed Founding Dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and in September 2005 the School welcomes its charter class with 24 students in Thunder Bay and 32 in Sudbury.
  • 2003
    • The Department of Aboriginal Education is established within the Faculty of Education. Dr. Ethel Gardner is appointed Chair and three new Aboriginal professors are hired.
  • 2004
    • Lakehead and the City of Orillia agree to develop a Lakehead campus in Orillia to open in the fall of 2006. 
    • Lakehead establishes a doctoral program in Forestry. PhD programs already exist in Clinical Psychology and Educational Studies.
  • 2005
    • Lakehead celebrates its 40th Anniversary with a dinner for 600 guests in the Hangar. Paul Shaffer, Music Director of David Letterman’s Late Show and former Thunder Bay resident, provides the evening’s entertainment.

      Over the years, Paul Shaffer makes significant financial contributions to Lakehead. In 1998, a seminar room in the Department of Music is named in memory of his mother, Shirley Eleanor Wood Shaffer, and in 2005, the ATAC Executive Boardroom is named in memory of his father, Bernard Shaffer.
  • 2006
    • Lakehead's "Yale Shmale" awareness campaign featuring a black and white photograph of United States President George W. Bush is launched in an effort to break through media clutter and grab the attention of prospective students living in the GTA and southern Ontario. It gains international media attention.
    • Research Info$ource Inc. designates Lakehead University as the Research University of the Year in its undergraduate category and number one in research income growth. Dr. Rui Wang, Vice President (Research), says, "Lakehead's goal, is to become one of the top 25 research intensive universities in Canada within the next 5-10 years."
  • 2008
    • A four-year Honours BEd in Aboriginal Education begins. It's the first of its kind in Ontario.
  • 2009
    • Arthur V. Mauro, a lawyer and businessman, is installed as Lakehead's seventh Chancellor.

The 2010s

  • 2010
    • Lakehead's Orillia campus launches Canada's first Interdisciplinary Honours BA/BSc in Environmental Sustainability and celebrates the opening of its main Academic Building in September 2010. The building, which features a green roof and many other energy efficient features, is certified as LEED® Platinum building.
    • Dr. Brian J.R. Stevenson is appointed President and Vice-Chancellor. 
  • 2013
    • Derek H. Burney becomes Lakehead's eight Chancellor.
    • The Board of Governors approves a new Strategic Plan (2013-2018) based on five pillars: Nurturing Scholarship, Growth and Capacity Development, Learner-Centred Student Experience, Community Engagement, and Economic Development.
    • A new brand is launched with the tagline "Exceptional. Unconventional." The brand framework is based on extensive research and captures the essence of what makes Lakehead unique and valued: greater likelihood of success, unconventional scholarship, independent thinking, and potential over credential.
    • In the fall, Lakehead University's Faculty of Law opens in Port Arthur Collegiate Institute (PACI)– the first new law school in Ontario in 44 years. The inaugural class consists of 60 students with Professor Lee Stuesser as the Founding Dean. The Paterson Foundation makes a substantial financial contribution to the Faculty of Law, and in recognition the PACI auditorium is named the John N. Paterson Faculty of Law Auditorium.
    • The Academic Building at Lakehead's Orillia campus is named Simcoe Hall in recognition of a significant donation from the County of Simcoe.
  • 2014
    • The Women's Nordic Skiing team wins their 10th consecutive OUA Championship and their 10th National team title in 11 years.
    • At Lakehead's 50th Convocation in May, a new tradition is born: the Alumni Association presents each new graduate with a blue and white scarf emblazoned with the Lakehead shield and the Alumni Association's new tagline -- Engage. Celebrate. Share.
    • In July, Lakehead University partners with Georgian College's University Partnership Centre to expand postsecondary opportunities for students in Central Ontario.
  • 2015
    • On January 1, Lakehead begins a year of 50th Anniversary activities with the goal of reconnecting with its 55,000 alumni. 
    • A new monthly giving program is launched to give the institution a foundation for growth and development as an innovative comprehensive university that values the potential in all its students and gives them the highest chance of success.
Featured Sponsors
Blaze SponsorsA supporter who donated $25,000 or more to the 50th celebration.
Alumni Association of Lakehead University The Alumni Association of Lakehead University is committed to keeping our alumni informed, involved and invested in the alumni community.
Cobalt SponsorsA supporter who donated $10,000 or more to the 50th celebration.

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