Ajax Division or Ajax Campus was a temporary campus set up by the University of Toronto at the decommissioned Defence Industries Limited munitions plant in Ajax, Ontario. It was used for engineering students in the immediate post-WWII period when the Faculty experienced a significant boom in enrollment from returning veterans. The campus was hastily put into service for the fall 1945 term, and was used until April 1949.
- 1 History
- 2 Spirit
- 3 Songs
- 4 Stories
- 4.1 Dog is Man's Best Friend
- 4.2 The Racers
- 4.3 Social Life at Ajax
- 4.4 The Great Ajax Tombstone Caper
- 4.5 All the Comforts of Home Await Influx of Pioneers at Ajax
- 4.6 Long-Lost Friends at Ajax Cause Supervisor's Headache
- 4.7 Hammers Still Pounding, Everybody is Hurrying
- 4.8 Strange Transportation Toting Ajax Schoolmen
- 4.9 Houses Drenched in Student War - Fire Department Called to End Hose Battle
- 4.10 Editorial - Welcome Ajax!
History[edit | edit source]
In 1945, Skule was faced with a problem much larger than that of the double cohort class entering university in 2003. Before the end of World War II, the University of Toronto anticipated a possible engineering class of up to 1500 first year students (mainly war veterans) at the conclusion of the war. At this time, the St. George campus facilities could only accommodate around 350 students.
The University began planning to secure additional facilities for the incoming veterans, and in August 1945 a suitable place was found to accommodate them all: the Ajax munitions plant, some 40 kilometers from the St. George campus. With less than one month until the start of classes it was impossible to open the new campus for September, so 400 first year engineering students were accepted at the St. George campus. Ajax was to accept an additional 1500 students four months later in January.
With hardly enough time to complete the construction, university staff frantically converted buildings into residences, labs, and lecture halls. It was an incredible effort, as described in the The Varsity:
For example, some of the earlier [women's residences] to be constructed went up so quickly that fire exits were forgotten: so later two rooms had to be chopped out. The Varsity, January 16, 1946
Another article, one day before classes started at Ajax, mentioned:
One classroom is called for at 9 a.m. on Thursday’s timetable. The Superintendent’s staff expect to have it ready by Wednesday midnight. The Varsity, January 15, 1946
But in the end, everything was finished according to schedule and on January 16, 1946, the Ajax Division opened its doors to 1400 first year engineering students. By the time it closed in 1949, over 3100 students had completed their first two years at Ajax and moved downtown to continue their studies. Closing Ajax was only possible after two new buildings were completed at St. George: the E.A. Wallberg Memorial Building in 1948, and the Mechanical Engineering Building in 1949.
An L-shaped campus with each side a mile long and an area four times that of the home campus, the Ajax Division had residences for 3000 students and staff; a gymnasium; theatre; dance hall; library; 8 tennis courts; baseball diamond; skating rink; soccer field; a 32-bed hospital; and a cafeteria that could seat 700 and serve 2000 men in an hour and a half – men, since there were only 9 women enrolled that year at Ajax.
Spirit[edit | edit source]
All these, however, are not what Ajax alumni fondly remember to this very day. And they are definitely not what makes Ajax so special in Skule history.
From crowding 150 engineers at a time into the "green dragons" (the semi-trailers used to move students between classes), to having to trek the great distances between classes during winter when one missed the green dragon, to the many dances and sporting events, everything brought the students much closer together than was possible at the St. George campus. Many students fondly recall Big Red, the Irish settler around the cafeteria – but they less fondly recall the food served there.
Pranks were not uncommon, be it a car on a roof; a student’s room filled to the ceiling with straw; switching the lights in front of the girls’ residence with red light bulbs; or giant water wars between entire residences using fire hoses. One such war occurred between houses 734 and 736, and was described in detail on the front page of the next day’s Varsity. There were also the fabled evenings at the Rouge Hills Golf Club where disciplines "competed to see which could throw the best party with the best strippers and the dirtiest movies". Johnny Bahen of Civil Engineering – whose name you might recognize – reportedly "had a lock on the best movies."
At 5pm every day, dozens of student cars started racing on the road back to Toronto – to the point where truck drivers on that road would just pull over and wait until it all passed. And, of course, there were many traditions that survived to this day. For example, a certain engineering semi-formal named Cannonball started at Ajax. A.J. Paul La Prairie was an Ajax student – a 5T0 known for, among others, stealing the University College Gargoyle to recover the Skule Cannon; and for forming the beloved Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad.
Written by Alex Curelea, Archivist 0T3-0T4 and published in the Cannon, October 1, 2003
Songs[edit | edit source]
The Ajax Song
Sure'n a little bit of Hades
Rose from out the earth one day
And it settled on the lakeshore
Not so very far away.
And when the Faculty saw it
Sure'n it looked so bleak and bare
They said 'Suppose we grab it.
We can send the Skulemen there.'
So they sprinkled it with sliderules
As the Skulemen came in view
With here and there a demi
To give out a precious clue.
Now the DVA supports us
While we learn a million facts
Sure'n it never will be heaven
It's just U of T - Ajax!
To the tune of "Bless 'em All"; written by Pete Philpott and published in the Varsity March 29, 1946
From Ajax we flock for our beers
Our Annex, Toronto,
Is learning right pronto
That we are the best Engineers!
With your cheers, drown all jeers,
Exams drawing near bring no fears
We study like beavers
Put profs into fevers
But hell, we're the best Engineers!
From the east, from the west,
At Ajax we've had all the best
We came here to study,
We know every buddy,
And don't give a damn for the rest!
Stories[edit | edit source]
Dog is Man's Best Friend[edit | edit source]
Do you remember the old, mangy, brown dog, perhaps a collie, that used to always slouch around near or in the cafeteria seeking handouts (and some of that food they served us was really for a dog)? The dog had a name as most dogs but my memory recall is not what it was. Maybe Big Red was its name.
Anyway, from time to time some of us used to drink a little, and indeed sometimes a lot. And I don't believe that I was the only Ajaxman who actually fell asleep after a serious drinking session ("fell asleep" sounds better than "passed out").
My friends, my buddies seeing my condition were anxious to help by getting me ready and into bed so that consciousness only came to me some time after the sun came up.
A few days later my friends showed me a picture depicting their earlier kindness to me. Not only did the get me into bed but also that mangy dog Big Red and as shown in the photo graciously draped my arm around the dog and somehow managed to get its head on my shoulder before they took the photo.
As people have often said, "One of the best things about university is the friends you develop there." With friends like mine, who needs enemies.
About the author: Course - Electrical 4T9. House at Ajax 730, East Wing. Those are the only clues you'll get.
The Racers[edit | edit source]
Most of the Ajax students lived in residence in the "H" huts built for the munitions plant war workers.
A second student group commuted every weekday in car pools, primarily to the east end of Toronto.
This alternative was expedient because accommodations for a married student was virtually unobtainable around Ajax. Many rented rooms, or flats in east Toronto. Also, a single student with parents who had the room, could live at home and significantly reduce living expenses, by commuting.
The car pools were made up from these students, passengers, usually were in the same year and course in a particular car. There was a lot of last minutes substitution from one vehicle to another in order to expedite departures.
The cars were mostly dilapidated, used, from five to fifteen years old, unless subsidized by a parent or purchased from a veteran's demobilization backpay situation, then they were newer. The oldest from my recollection was a 1929 Durant Sedan, possibly followed by a 1930 Peirce Arrow Cabriolet and a 1937 Lasalle. The newest may have been a 1946 Studebaker Starlite Coupe, but it was not a contender.
The route to Toronto was on Kingston Rd. Highway No. 2 - as construction was incomplete on 401. At five o'clock the dozens of student cars jockeying for a "pole" position for the race to Toronto was a sight to behold. We got to know most of the cars of our classmates, and in the true competitive spirit, to pass them on my way home was a source of satisfaction to driver and passengers alike.
Eventually the traffic situation was so wild after five p.m. between Ajax and West Hill that truck drivers who were familiar with this stretch of the road pulled over and waited to "let it all go ahead".
The only race rule that I can recall that was considered for implementation was "No passing three abreast on a Hill!".
Imagine what could have been the situation when some ex-fighter pilot types drive in front of the cars, and trying to sustain their image, while some equally determined ex-P.B.I. (Bloody Infantry) drivers were trying to squash this image by passing each other.
About the author: Course - Mechanical 5T0.
Social Life at Ajax[edit | edit source]
Speaking for the 4T9ers, most of us were a pretty determined lot having been out of school for up to five or six years. Recently demobilized from the Army, Navy or Air Force we had to work hard to cope with the demands of post secondary academic life. And those who came to Ajax directly from high school got caught up with this determination and the sense of "let's get on with it".
Truth to tell we were drudges during the week nights, struggling to grasp the rudiments of various disciplines and courses and trying to keep the process under control. But Friday nights and Saturday nights were given to the pursuit of all manner of entertainment.
Sometimes it was an evening of all male company at the Spruce Villa with ten cent draft beers, sawdust on the floor and bawdy songs though some were lucky enough to be invited into the barely more genteel atmosphere of the "Ladies and Escorts". But mostly it was a search for congenial access to the company of the fair sex.
Thus was born "THE HOUSE PARTY".
Each residence or "hut" had a House Committee with the all important Entertainment Subcommittee which had the responsibility of arranging the band of disc jockey, the food and above all, THE GIRLS!
Disarming phone calls to Toronto managed always to coerce a group of 40 to 50 single young ladies from the telephone company, a nurses residence, a college or any other source of girls to attend the "House Party" and to even pay for the chartered bus that brought them to Ajax and returned them home at the end of the evening.
The utilitarian barracks style residences were ill-suited for the party atmosphere but we did our best in the all male house. We hung streamers and arranged for flowers to brighten the scene. And, with propriety, we assigned one of the two large communal washrooms for the ladies use and with a blinding display of male class we made the washroom more suitable for the ladies by stopping up the long and incredibly ugly trough type urinal, filling it with water and a couple of dozen goldfish.
The common room was arranged with a small dance area, the small band ground out the simple tunes of the day and the ritual of "getting acquainted" began. Romances bloomed in those heady days after the war and we know that some have lasted to this day.
About the author: Course - Mechanical 4T9. Written on 10/19/94.
The Great Ajax Tombstone Caper[edit | edit source]
One Saturday morning some time back, I heard Arthur Black on the CBC interviewing some American hack who was flogging his book about what he thought were hilarious college pranks. Not long after, the winter edition of the University of Toronto Magazine arrived, and in it your column on the planned celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of AJAX. This has prompted me to write to you about what to me is a real college prank. And much better, a stunt in which no one was hurt, showed some skill, imagination and more lean than most sophomoric exploits do.
No doubt, you remember and have heard much about the "Green Dragons", "Big Red", playing gastronomical Russian Roulette with the boiled eggs stamped 'CANADA FOR EXPORT ONLY', and on and on. Herewith the "Great Ajax Tombstone Caper". You may or may not remember anything about it, but at the time we could have done with some consultation from a Civil. I hope that you will find it interesting, mildly amusing and of some use at the Ajax Remembered celebrations.
'The Great Ajax Tombstone Caper'
Out of the night the menacing looking Franklin limousine braked to a stop with a crunch of gravel on the shoulder of the road. It was a chilly drizzling night in mid-October in the haphazard settlement that straggled along the Rouge River near Lake Ontario. The huge doors clicked open and five roughly-dressed young giants strode confidently through the dripping grass toward the single light bulb that barely lit a work site. Tom Citizen was mixing concrete and pouring a front porch for his modest cottage.
"Hey Mac!" said Turner who led the group as usual, "How would you like to trade some concrete for a bag of cement?"
"Whu, Whu, What do you want it for?" stuttered Tom not knowing what was coming next.
"We're making a tombstone." growled six foot six inch Keen.
Word had come down - or so we were told - from the Blue and White Society to the Engineering Society and thence to Heisey (ever the promoter and our Eng.Soc. representative) of a task for the Ajax Engineering and Business Club. The Rah-Rah geniuses had decided that they wanted a tombstone to mark the weekend when the Varsity Blues would finally "bury" the Western Mustangs. We had the people, the place and the enthusiasm to bring off this super-optimistic venture. The main problem was time! We had less than a week. Could we do it? Damn right!
One of our "real" engineers, (the Hespeler and later IMAX boy Shaw) had the form together in no time in the hobby hut. Fortunately, time dims all memories, so I can't remember who from the crew scaled the barbed-wire fence into the nascent housing development and returned with a bag of in-scarce-supply cement. There we were having agreed to this hare-brained scheme, with a form to make the tombstone, a bag of cement and no aggregate or a place to mix the concrete even if we had.
Hughson's family had stored their magnificent air-cooled Franklin limousine during the war, and he had driven it down to Ajax from Ottawa, so we had wheels. Into that cavernous car we loaded form and cement and we were off! Where? To look for some mixing cement at night - of course I'm not sure what spirit guided us to the Rouge valley. But we had cruised through most of the Ajax-Pickering area looking in vain for the elusive "do-it-yourselfer" when that single bulb glowed in the distance dimly illuminating Tom and his cement mixer.
The tombstone form, now filled to the top with concrete, was far from light work for us as we slid it carefully onto the floor of the Franklin. Back in the Hobby hut cum shack, the Quebec heater was glowing in preparation for some forced concrete curing. It was my assignment to organize the curing detail. A roster was set up so that some poor sod would struggle out of bed throughout the night to stoke the stove and douse our handiwork with a bucket of water at hourly intervals. Someone had heard that we needed to keep fresh concrete damp, (reinforcing wire would have been of more use). By the next morning the shack was awash and steaming, and the tombstone was set.
Shaw undertook to chisel the inscription into the still plastic surface as we all watched anxiously. The visible portion of the stone carried the words that went something like, "October 23, 1948 HERE LIES JOHNNY METRAS AND HIS WESTERN MUSTANGS - MAY THEY REST IN PIECES". Below the ground line we decided we'd identify our production by roughly carving "MADE IN AJAX ENG BUS 5T1". The powers-that-be (Heisey) decreed that this might leave us open to some sort of discipline. Hence "ENG BUS 5T1" was defaced. At least "they'd" know it came from Ajax!
It was almost midnight Thursday as the Franklin ghosted down Mount Pleasant Road. We were on our way to the main campus to "plant" our handiwork. Now at 6 foot 2, Anderson and I were no longer the midgets of the crew having been joined by Bates who was always game for a gag. Six of us now, with two long handheld shovels from God knows where and the completed stone resting on the car's back floor, headed for the tricky part.
The murky campus was deserted as we pulled up outside the Red Schoolhouse at about one a.m. It seemed to take just a minute or so until we'd wrestled the two hundred pound plus hunk of concrete out onto the campus, and planted the Ajax tombstone where we had turned over the sod for a three foot by eight foot "grave" smack in the middle of the main circle. The ever-alert campus police arrived about half way through the operation, but were persuaded by the well-lubricated Mutt & Jeff - Bates and Keen - that we were only doing some "authorized fall landscaping".
Back to Ajax we drove in triumph, along the empty fog-shrouded road (that has become 401) with Bates "navigating" the dotted line from his prone position on the left-front fender. The "grave" discovery was made early Friday morning but our effort was removed to allow for the Varsity vs Western Soccer Games that were played on Saturday. The "Officials" couldn't possibly have left it there for any time.
When last seen, the tombstone lay sadly in two pieces at the bottom of the basement stairs of a Frat house on St. George, (green concrete with no reinforcing!). No doubt it is long gone now, but finally, everyone can know who was responsible for the Great Ajax Tombstone Caper, and that it ranks right up there with the legendary bricking up of U.C.'s front door and the Ajax 1934 Plymouth convertible chariot in the first Chariot Race. What happened at the game? The Ajax tombstone seems to have had an effect. Cursory research fails to tell what the score was, but the Blues whomped Western, setting the scene for the triumphant '49 season.
But, by then U of T Ajax Division was just a memory too.
Written by R.W. 'Bob' Scott
All the Comforts of Home Await Influx of Pioneers at Ajax[edit | edit source]
Ajax is an airy, sprawling community, glistening in the sun, rolling over gentle ridges down to the blue glint of Lake Ontario, and dominated by the smokestack of its central heating plant and the huge tank of its private water supply. The Queen Elizabeth Way, as yet unpaved, runs by its back door. On hundreds of siding freights chug busily in and out.
Each residence has a flight of steps, each a powerful bulb over the door, each a plushily-furnished common room, 58 bedrooms, showers, baths, and laundry. "Quiet, Please!", admonished a poster inside the door. "Sleep-Saboteurs and Radio Rowdies are Hitler's Friends."
The Gate House, where we surrendered our pass and our lighter under the x-ray eyes of blue-coated guards, lies at the neck of the L, in a convenient site for its possible future function as a centre for Hart House activities.
And beyond the Gate House stretch the assembly lines, down towards the lake, buildings like sparse grey beads on a string of roofed, hardwood-floored corridors. Here the laboratories will be fitted up; but not until the demolition of fire-hazardous shell-filling rooms has broken the continuity of the chain.
Two of a fleet of six caravans, seating 80 and capable of holding 140, will be retained by the University to carry students the miles to their lectures.
The labs-to-be are now utterly bare, shells with thick brick walls and gleaming hardwood floors, laced with the colored pipes of steam, water, and power supply. But they will be humming when the engineers move in next spring.
Originally published in the Varsity, Thursday Sept. 27, 1945
Long-Lost Friends at Ajax Cause Supervisor's Headache[edit | edit source]
At Ajax, it seems, everybody at one time or another during service years knew everybody else.
That fact is making dawn-to-dusk headaches for Mr. Ronald H. Perry, Superviser of Residences. Mr. Perry, we have it on eye-witness authority, carries aspirins in his pocket. Mr. Perry's job of the moment is allocating residence rooms on the basis of keeping as many old friends as close together as possible.
"It was fine when we started out," Mr Perry said. "Lads came to me and said they'd heard of old service pals also registering at Ajax. So I put them together as room-mates, or at least in the same building.
"If they hadn't any special preferences, I grouped room-mates by age, course, and service background and hope they'd make a go of it."
But in the last few days, it seems, just about everybody who arrived on the Ajax campus was discovering long-lost friends. "The requests for transfers choked our records completely. So for a week we have frozen all movement. At the end of that time people can move again - if they still want to."
Mr. Perry pointed out that every change of rooms involved changes on eight separate sets of records. "We have three sets of forms to look after, and the Bursar has five. With very many removals, the work of keeping track becomes staggering."
Sixteen houses accommodating some 75 students each had been completely filled by Monday night, with three more available and two in reserve.
A constitution based on that set-up by the Residence Committee for the U of T residences on the Toronto campus provides for residence self-government via House Committees, - a joint House Committee, and a Housemasters' Committee. Elections to these bodies will take place shortly.
The U-shaped buildings consist of two wings of double rooms connected by a common room, and boast study rooms and a kitchenette in each wing. Originally women's residences constructed by Defense Industries Ltd., former proprietors of Ajax, the houses were transferred to the University in excellent condition and have been still further improved.
"They are just different enough to require separate floor-plans for the supervising staff," Mr. Perry commented. "For example, some of the earlier ones to be constructed went up so quickly that fire exits were forgotten: so later two rooms had to be chopped out."
The seven women students have one end of one wing in House 21 to themselves, complete with a separate entrance and common room. The remainder of the building is filled by girls on the secretarial staff of the U. of T., Defense Industries Ltd., and War Assets Corp.
Originally published in the Varsity, Wednesday January 16, 1946
Hammers Still Pounding, Everybody is Hurrying[edit | edit source]
Amidst the year's first blinding snowstorm, the Great Adventure began yesterday for 1,400 students registered at the Ajax Division. Last night, for the first of many times, the rafters of the Recreation Hall rang with The Blue and White. Today is get-acquainted day. Tomorrow at 9 lectures begin, and the Ajax Project will be securely launched.
Over 1,200 students are now living in residence on the Ajax campus; some 80 per cent of them ex-service personnel. Corridor-choking queues slouched around corners of the Administration Building until late at night, en route to the Bursar's Office and room allotment at the Residence Director's.
Housemasters scurried, tracing lost baggage, directing hungry hordes to the cafeteria. In room after room of the Staff's labyrinthic Arbor Lodge, extempore conferences threshed out last-minute administrative details.
Throughout the Ajax campus,, saws droned and hammers pounded, readying Hart House, the laundry, and other campus corners for immediate use. Hart House at the moment exists as a palatial furnished common-room occupying the centre of a carpenters' shambles of beams and paint. Completion for the remainder within two weeks is expected.
One classroom is called for at 9 a.m. on Thursday's timetable. The Superintendent's staff expect to have it ready by Wednesday midnight.
First mass get-together of the Ajax students was a sing-song last night sponsored by the Engineering Society. Five Society members went down to teach Ajaxians the immortal Toike Oike.
Abetted by S.P.S. Dean C. R. Young, Director J. R. Gilley, and Hart House Superintendent D. L. Emond, the visiting experts raised the roof. Haltingly but with gathering confidence, the thousand Ajaxians responded.
Coffee and sandwiches rounded out the evening. Ajax had begun.
Originally published in the Varsity, Tuesday January 15, 1946
Strange Transportation Toting Ajax Schoolmen[edit | edit source]
Did you ever visit Ajax? No! Then you haven't noticed the large grey cattle-cars, or, to be more specific, the vans used to transport students the half-mile from the main area to the lecture and lab buildings. These wood and steel boxes on wheels, eight feet in width and height and 30 feet in length, are dragged along by a detached cab in front. The buses cover the route every hour approximately on the hour, and continue until the alleged queues of Skulemen are all taken care of in one fashion or another.
The buses have an official seating capacity of 30 and will stand another 70 but any A-Jack who has participated in the friendly rush at noon or at five o'clock will verify the statement that the actual seating capacity is about 60 (two layers) while many a bus has probably carried a total load of well over 150. At about 150 lbs. each, that means about 11 tons of solid engineers.
In an in-between trips interview with one of the drivers it was found the four drivers, Messrs Hinan, Bartlett, Greer and Burley, are quite proud of trucking such a condensed load of knowledge.
They have been at the job since the commencement of the D.I.L. plant and admit their preference for the present gang because, according to Mr. Hinan, "the students seem to load and unload a lot faster than the women did. This is probably due to their eagerness to get to their lectures."
But the buses don't cost the A-Jacks a red cent so, crowd or no crowd, you can have your Bloor St. rush-hour street-car!
Originally published in the Varsity, Monday February 18, 1946
Houses Drenched in Student War - Fire Department Called to End Hose Battle[edit | edit source]
Last night, on the last night of the first term, the residents of 734 and 736 waged war across the open field between the two buildings. Using fire hoses as weapons, the participants fought for every inch of ground in the largest battle yet witnessed on the campus.
The evening started quietly until the residents of 734 discovered that the locks on most of the doors had been tampered with, rendering them useless. A small party set out to reconnoiter and the situation became worse. A fire hose was passed through the ventilator in the roof of 734 and the floor of the hall was soon deep in water.
In retaliation, hoses were run out into the field between houses and hand to hand combat was commenced. A few windows were broken and the rooms flooded. After a fierce and lengthy battle 734 gained control for a time until the main hydrants along Queen's Road were brought into play. The additional power of the heavier hoses drove the field of hand to hand combat toward the lower end of the ground until by an encircling manoeuvre the two armies met again along the road.
The strongly contested fight tended to wane until reinforcements came to the aid of both sides and the contestants grappled over the heavy hose. This struggle was in two parts - one over the nozzle of the hose and the other for the control sector at the valve of the hydrant.
Yells and commands rent the air as the chiefs-of-staff for both sides gave orders from the thick of the fray. The big hose cut the pressure on the small house hoses until they were almost useless and the war centred on command of the large sprinkler.
The short hoses were coupled together to increase their range and were the centres of smaller battles in attempts to disconnect the individual sections. The field was a panorama of small struggles connected together by the unifying power of the heavy hose and by the commands of the generals who stepped into the position of control which were so obviously lacking in the earlier stages.
Many of the warriors removed all outer clothing during the earlier periods of the scrimmage and were dressed in shorts. Others preferred Army and Air Force fatigue clothes. The opposing armies were indistinguishable in the general melee except for the direction in which they attempted to turn the hoses.
As things quieted down, and the participants prepared to clean up the dilapidation, the campus fire department arrived and began to straighten up the fire fighting equipment. While they inspected the damage to windows, woodwork and hoses, the firemen hats and the ignition keys were removed from the truck to add to the general disorganization.
But the back of the battle had been broken or rather, had collapsed from weariness. The clamour died down and the tired, wet and footsore combatants went back to the study of statics.
Written by the "Varsity War Correspondent"
Editorial - Welcome Ajax![edit | edit source]
Today's Varsity goes to 1,500 more students than ever before. To-day we begin circulation of an expanded paper on two campi, 24 miles apart but offspring alike of a parent University that knows no boundaries.
To-day we welcome to the University the 1,500 Engineering students at the Ajax Division. Theirs is no makeshift annex to the central campus; because there is no central campus. There is one University with two campi.
A mere geographical accident prevents us who have been here since fall from welcoming the Ajax engineers personally into our midst. Despite that accident, our welcome is none the less warm.
There is no reason whatever for sympathizing with the students at the Ajax division, separated from us as they are by 24 miles of snow-covered highway, lodged in a reconverted shell-filling plant on which carpenters' hammers are still re-echoing in frantic efforts to ready room after room for impending deadlines. If anything, they should sympathize with us.
It is we whose traditions are set almost beyond changing. It is we who are cramped for space wherever we turn. It is we, under the grey pall of smoke and remote from the lake and from those windy plains, who are deprived of the chance to make our campus over as we would.
Ajax this week begins a great adventure: the creation of a college town. That exhilarating creative experience can never be ours.
For all that, we are not fossilized. The years of reconstruction lie ahead. Thwarted as we in Toronto are from taking full advantage of those years by the pressure of space and time and by the stultifying effect of the present upon the imagination, we may turn more and more to the Ajax pioneers for example and for guidance.
May they build soundly and well.
Originally published in the Varsity, Tuesday January 15, 1946