1917 Fredericton Encaenia

Valedictory Address

Delivered by: Smith, Charles Ross


“The Valedictory Address”The University Monthly 36, 7 (July 1917): 190-194. (UA Case 68, Box 2).

Your Honor, Mr. President and Gentleman of the Senate, Mr. President and Members of the Associated Alumni, Mr. Chancellor and Members of the Faculty, Classmates, Fellow Students, Ladies and Gentlemen: In these strenuous times when the thoughts of all are turned upon the war and all else has sunken into comparative insignificance, we stop almost impatiently to engage in a function which ordinarily is most interesting. To one class at least Encaenia is always the most important function of the College year. To us, the Class of 1917, today marks the gaining of the objective towards which we have been striving during the 1ast four years. We have successfully surmounted all obstacles and evaded all entanglements, under the wise direction of the General Staff. But tomorrow we go forth from directed action into the hand-to-hand conflict with reality, to follow the path of duty wherever that may lead us.


Looking backward over the last four years, I remember the morning in September, 1913, when we assembled here for the first time, forty in number. We entered by the back door, for the days of equal rights to Freshmen were not yet. Certain distinguishing marks were prescribed for us by the grave and reverend Seniors. Our uniform consisted of a vivid green tie, eight inches wide, and a straw hat, commonly known as a “cow’s breakfast,” which afforded us ample protection from the rain as well as from the heat of the sun. It is doubtless owing to the use of these hats during that critical period that the Class of ‘17 has become noted for their cool heads. As Freshmen we were successful above the average, in athletics and debating as well as in the regular class work.


At the beginning of our Sophomore year we numbered thirty-seven, having lost eleven of our former number and gained eight new men. At this time the great war was just opening, and soon it began to call away many of our best men. Altogether up to the present time twenty-three of our former classmates have enlisted. Nobly have they represented the Class of 17, and we are proud of the honor they have brought to themselves and to the U. N. B. Many of these men hold His Majesty's commission; some of them have won promotion and distinctions on the fields of battle, notably G. Roland Barnes, promoted from Lieutenant to Captain, and from Captain to Major, winner of the Military Cross, and recently decorated by King George. Two of our former classmates have won the highest promotion and have gone to be decorated by the hand of the Great King. Lieut. Austin K. Murray and Stewart K. Kitchen were killed in France, the former in June, the latter in November of last year; true hearted comrades both were they, whose memory we shall always hold in honor.


Other sons of U. N. B. also have shown that love “greater than which hath no man” and have laid down their lives for their country. Already at least 15 graduates and undergraduates have paid the supreme sacrifice. We revere and honor these men who

“——— laid the world away ; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene
That men call age; and those who would have been
Their sons, they gave their immortality.”


Surely it is altogether fitting and proper that our feelings should be expressed in some tangible form. To this end a movement was begun in the Students’ Association to erect a suitable memorial to those who fall in the present war. The Senate, the Alumni and Alumnae Societies, gladly took up the matter and all are co-operating. The movement is worthy of the support of every friend of U.N.B. The least the graduates should do, and what I am sure we all shall be most happy to do, is to help to commemorate the glorious sacrifice of those who have given all, fighting for the right.


We began our junior year with thirty-four, eight having gone out from our ranks and five new men joining us. We were especially successful in our Junior year. In athletics we were the champion class of the University, and our basket ball team never met defeat. During the year our numbers were reduced by no less than fifteen, leaving us a class of nineteen to enter upon our Senior year, and today we have been graduated to this number.


In spite of the great reduction in the number of the student body, the past year has been successful, in some respects even beyond what might have been hoped for. Recognition of added responsibility has developed the right spirit in those who remained, so that it has been possible to keep all the regular student activities up to the usual high standard.


Our skill in all the usual branches of athletics has been maintained in readiness for the time when Intercollegiate contests shall be resumed. Keen interest in debating has been shown throughout the year, and several very interesting contests have been held. In the Intercollegiate Series we were to have debated here against the representatives of King’s University, but they decided that they would be unable to appear. Consequently we have not had an opportunity of meeting an outside team.


The members of the University Dramatic Society deserve credit for their excellent work in presenting the comedy farce, “The Private Secretary.” Much of the success of their efforts is due to the very kind assistance of Dr. Popplestone. The proceeds from the play were placed in the Memorial Fund.

The Forestry Association is a live organization and has had a successful year. The Engineering Society has had a quiet year with the usual amount of activity. The various Ladies’ Societies report a very prosperous year. The success of many of the student activities is largely due to the help of the co-eds.

The Officers’ Training Corps, which was so successful last year, was not reorganized this year. This is to be regretted. A suggestion worthy of consideration has been made that military training should be placed on the curriculum as a regularly required subject.


And now that we have briefly reviewed the history of the class and year, it is but natural that our thoughts should turn with gratitude to our Alma Mater. We are proud to be graduated from a state institution, which gives men a broad outlook unlimited by creed or prejudice. We are proud of the past record of our Alma Mater; of the graduates she has sent out to be leaders in the professions and public life of Canada. We are proud of her present status; in the courses she gives, she ranks above most small universities, and for practical work in Engineering and Forestry she offers advantages hard to find elsewhere. In the future, with the co-operation of Senate, Faculty, Students and Graduates, her success shall be no less than in the past. The support of the graduates is greatly needed. Sons and daughters of the U. N. B., those to whom I am speaking now and those to whom these words may come, think what you owe to your Alma Mater. Your success is her success, and just as truly her success is yours. You can help her much by material support, but even more by making up in some measure for loss in numbers by an increase in that spirit which makes us one body, united in loyal devotion to the old College on the hill.


To you, Mr. Chancellor and Members of the Faculty, we express our thanks for your patience in instructing us and for your kindly interest in our welfare. We hold your friendship among the most valued things that U. N. B. has given us. Our best wishes are with Dr. MacDonald and Professor Stephens, who are absent on military duty. We are glad to learn that Dr. McGinnis has regained his health and will be able to resume his duties here next term. We wish also to thank the people of Fredericton for the many kindnesses we have received at their hands during the time we have been here.

To you, the Underclassmen, we leave the responsibility of keeping the student life up to a high standard. We who are going out from you today, the graduates of former years, and all who are interested in the welfare of the U. N. B. will look to you to do this. And we believe that you are able to make the coming year even more successful than that which is just now ending.


Classmates, we are glad today to have finished the course which we began four short years ago. There is always a joy in a finished task. But when we think that after today we shall never meet again as a class, that today we must bid farewell to all the pleasant associations of old U. N. B., and hold them only in memory, a feeling of loneliness somewhat akin to sadness comes over us. Next fall when the other classes are reassembling, we may return hither in thought, but we ourselves shall be scattered. Some of us will go to help our comrades in the battleline. Others to whatever duty seems nearest; but wherever we may be, let us remember the ideals our Alma Mater has entrusted to us, and strive to be worthy of a place among her graduates.

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