1905 Fredericton Encaenia

Valedictory Address

Delivered by: Palmer, John Ernest

b>“Valedictory Address”The University Monthly 24, 7-8. (May-June 1905): 202-206. (UA Case 68, Box 2)

Your Honour, Mr. President and members of the Senate. Mr. Chancellor and Gentlemen of the Faculty, Mr. President and members of the Associated Alumni, Fellow Students, Ladies and Gentlemen :

On a bright October morning a band of fellows, fresh from High School or first time away from home, might have been seen making their way to college. Neither the neglected grove clothed with the innumerable tints of autumn, nor the stony path leading up the hill among the glacial boulders moved these youths in the least. However, as they approached the venerable building, awe and dread caused by some indefinite rumors filled the mind of each. After a profitable initiation, the class began to consider itself a part of the student body. So we entered upon the most enjoyable year of the course.

New men coming into college are surrounded by a different atmosphere, and experience a greater freedom than that to which they were accustomed at High School. If there is no restraining influence from the higher classmen, this new atmosphere and unbounded freedom tend to make youths reckless and disrespectful both to their fellow-students and to themselves. Among any body of people there must be a ruling faction. Here, in the University, for many years the authority of the seniors has been unquestioned by the underclassmen. Remove this control, and the freedom and democracy which has always been so evident at the U. N. B. will give way to anarchy. Finally restrictions will come, but from another source. That, with marks deducted from tardiness and absence from lectures, will make college life mean but little more than a continuance of the High School course. To the students that remain we would say—do not forget the unwritten laws, keep up the old customs. Do away with them, and you rob college life of much of its mystery and charm.

Our class has not been without its losses. Some went into business, others began professional work, and the death messenger called two. The first one, Fraser, having accidently heard of the Engineering course given here, came to us in our third year from a college in the sister province. He had scarcely begun to know the fellows when he was stricken by disease, to which he soon succumbed. Just a year from that time we were mourning the loss of another classmate; this time a lady, Miss Irvine, who had been with us from our entry into college, was called to that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.” If the original twenty-four only fourteen have completed the course. During the second, third, and fourth years other members were added, so that today we number twenty-eight.

Among the benefits derived from a College course that arising from contact with other fellows is not the least. Only in this way can we get to know men. When the students are separated, college spirit suffers, and the inevitable result is a tendency towards declining interest in the different societies. We feel that a large residence would overcome these difficulties, fellows would move in a larger circle, and the formation of cliques would be lessened.

Marked improvement in the style and composition can be seen in the UNIVERSITY MONTHLY. It has been the aim of the editors to make it useful and interesting to the alumni and undergraduates. This year prizes were given for prose and poetry. The scheme seemed a good one, for many who had never contributed anything before entered into the competition. To write well is as essential as to speak well. Writing for the MONTHLY—if articles are published or not—gives a student excellent training and should be practiced by more. The series of articles on illustrious graduates ought to arouse enthusiasm among the students.

The Debating Society—one of the best organizations in college—has had a successful year. At the beginning of the term a mock trial was held and later in Mock Parliament, by keen and frequent discussion, some knowledge of parliamentary procedure was acquired. In the intercollegiate debate the team representing the U. N. B. defeated the Dalhousie team on the question of “Trade Unions.” Considering the size and reputation of our opponent, this victory deserves more than a passing notice. A University may teach a man to reason soundly and furnish him with ideas, but, unless he can express himself clearly and forcibly, his influence will be limited. The object of the Debating Society is to make men proficient in this art, and we cannot too strongly urge upon those who remain, the great importance of constant attendance at the meetings.

The Engineering Society, formed but a few years ago, is doing much to improve the course. At the regular monthly meetings men prominent in the engineering profession delivered lectures on some practical subject, thus supplementing the curriculum. The public lecture course this year has not received due attention. These lectures are always interesting and beneficial, and should receive greater support from the students.

We are sorry to report that the foot-ball team did not win more victories, consequently the King-Richardson Cup, which we held last year, was lost. The prospects for next year are unusually bright.

The hockey team has added fresh laurels to the University. Not only did it come a close second in the City League, but defeated the strongest St. John team in the New Brunswick Hockey League. It seems that if games could be arranged with the sister colleges interest in hockey would increase.

The standard of the basket-ball team has been fully up to that of former years. The Fowler Cup, given to the winners of the City League for three years, has been won consecutively and remains the permanent property of the U. N. B.

The annual sports were of an unusually high character, four records were broken, and the other events called forth keen competition.

In our first year at college the gymnasium was burned, and for three years we were compelled to do without an adequate building; such a handicap could not but prove disastrous in the intercollegiate athletics. Now, we are happy to say that there is on the campus a gymnasium building unequalled by that of any educational institution in the Maritime Provinces. However, it still lacks equipment, which we hope will be supplied at an early date.

The Young Men’s Christian Association is continuing as in the past to elevate the moral tone of the University.

The Glee Club, under the direction of a competent leader, has aided the fellows in developing their musical talent. At the close of the year a concert consisting of choruses and the comedy, “A pair of Spectacles” was held in the Opera House.

An attempt was made to organize a Rifle Association, but as yet no definite reply has been received from the military authorities.

During the four years, either on account of ill health or because of better pecuniary inducements, three Professors have gone from us.

Professor Stockley and Dr. Davidson went early in our course. Though our acquaintance with them was brief, yet all admired them for their high aims and personal interest in the students. These men had wide experience, and were favorably known both in Canada and in the Old Country. Fortunately, their places have been filled by men, who, though younger and of less experience, are doing good work and we hope before long will be as their predecessors, authorities on their subjects. The third, Prof. Brydone-Jack, '91, Dean of the Engineering Faculty, who by his genial disposition and painstaking work endeared himself to the students. His purpose seemed to be to improve the course, and to build up his Alma Mater by informing the public of the work being done. It seems most unfortunate that the University should lose such men, while others, whose duty it is to procure students, take little or no interest in such work, but still remain.

In the past the University authorities have been successful in procuring good professors, but scarcely is their good work known to the outside world when some other college offers a fair salary and U. N. B. is deprived of their services.

The general advancement of the age brings new wants to the University. These demands can only be met by increased funds. We feel that the good work being done is not known or public opinion would compel the government to increase the grant. The University is governed by a body of men known as the Senate. Among its members are the most influential men of the province, the Chancellor of the University, the Chief Superintendent of Education, two supreme court judges, also the Premier and the leader of the Opposition in the provincial legislature. If these men have the best interests of the college at heart, surely they could prevail upon the government, having a surplus of sixteen thousand dollars, to aid the State University.

To you, Mr. Chancellor and members of the Faculty, who have been our instructors for the past four years, we have only to say your efforts have been thoroughly appreciated.

To the people of Fredericton we wish to say that the four years spent among you have been most pleasant. We admire your beautiful city, and enjoy your society. We have always found you ready and willing to assist us in our college functions. For this and your numerous acts of kindness we extend our hearty thanks.

To the undergraduates we would recommend that you take advantage of all opportunities to become broader and better college men. Our interest in the University is not ended. We will rejoice with you in your victories, and sympathize with you in your defeats.

Fellow classmates, we are about to separate, perhaps never to meet again. Let us all strive to promote the best interests of our Alma Mater. Let us not be cowardly and shirk our duty, but, when we see injury being done or advancement hindered through neglect, we should not hesitate to get at the root of the matter and in a still, quiet way use our influence to do effective work. If we, the recent graduates who best know the internal workings, do not apply ourselves to the affected parts, how can we expect those who are not in as close touch with the affairs to make the necessary recommendations ?

Some of us may achieve success in our various vocations, but there is something to be remembered which is well expressed by the following words of a celebrated writer:

“The sort of ambition to be condemned is that in which egotism and vanity figure most conspicuously and in which notoriety, the praise and admiration of the world, wealth and personal aggrandizement, are the objects sought rather than the power to be of use in the world, to be a leader in the service of humanity and to be the noblest, best, and most efficient worker that can be.”
“Farewell! A word that must be, and hath been:
A sound which makes us linger—yet—farewell!”

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