Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Campus Community

Ahead by a century: The Hip imagines a better future

"The Tragically Hip in concert"
A still from the documentary, Long Time Running, premiering at TIFF next month, captures frontman of The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, as he leads the band through a concert in Vancouver last summer. Robert Morrison (English Language and Literature) attended The Tragically Hip’s final tour stop in Kingston. (Courtesy of TIFF)

This column was originally written for and published by The Conversation Canada, which provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen's researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors.

Good poetry is explosive. It makes us re-examine what we thought we knew, and in some instances it urges us to start again with a different, usually broader, viewpoint. Good songs — as Bob Dylan’s Nobel Laureate reminds us — have a similar impact.

One year ago, on Aug. 20, the Tragically Hip played the final gig of their 2016 summer farewell tour. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, had recently been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and many thought it might be the last time they were together on stage. If you missed their shows, the documentary, Long Time Running, premiering next month at the Toronto International Film Festival, chronicles those exhilarating and emotional performances. I watched the final show on the big screen in Kingston’s Market Square. I wanted the Hip to play several songs, but none more so than “Ahead by a Century.” It is, I think, their greatest hit, and it was wonderful to hear them perform it as the last song of the show.

Why is it such a fitting way to finish? What about it is explosive? What does it mean to be “ahead by a century?” The song is so rich that there are a variety of good interpretations, but here is one way of thinking about it.

At its most basic level, “Ahead by a Century” is a song with a broad sweep, as it weaves together past, present and future. It is about time, memory, loss, disappointment and desire. But it is also about Canada’s identity and the politics of hope. It is a song in which the Hip asks us to shed what holds us back, and to imagine a future that sets us free.

Childhood’s golden years

Ahead by a Century
First we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life
That’s when the hornet stung me and I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt, tonight we smoke them out
You are ahead by a century
Stare in the morning shroud and then the day began
I tilted your cloud, you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life
That’s when the hornet stung me and I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt tonight, we smoked them out
You are ahead by a century
But this is our life and disappointing you getting me down
Songwriters: Gordon Downie / Johnny Fay / Joseph Paul Langlois / Robert Baker / Robert Gordon Sinclair
Ahead by a Century lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

The opening verse recalls childhood. It begins with the words “First thing,” which immediately captures the excitement children feel when they recount their day. The singer and his friend have played together many times: “First thing we’d climb a tree / And maybe then we’d talk / Or sit silently / And listen to our thoughts.”

Among other things, the two discuss what they will do when they get older, or what they think their future will be like. They have “illusions of someday” that as children cast “a golden light.” But as the rest of the song reveals, their ideas of the future are “illusions.” It will not be as they planned or hoped. Having been back to childhood, and then forward to “someday,” the verse closes with the present and an insistence on living as fully and genuinely as possible: “No dress rehearsal / This is our life.”

In the bridge, the “illusions” of childhood are inevitably and almost accidentally punctured. The voice of the child is again captured when he explains — perhaps to a parent — “that’s where the hornet stung me.” This unexpected and unpleasant experience marks the end of childhood’s “golden light,” and brings on the “feverish dream” of adulthood, where we are all addled by emotions such as “revenge and doubt.”

The final line of the bridge — like the final line of the verse — returns us to the present: “Tonight we smoke them out.” Literally, of course, the “them” in this line refers to the hornets, but it also refers to “revenge and doubt.” The singer plans to use smoke to drive the hornets from their nest, in the same way that he hopes to drive revenge and doubt from himself, in an attempt to return to an earlier time when he lived free of these emotions.

Political agitators were ahead by a century

The chorus is six words – “You are ahead by a century” – repeated three times. The singer is addressing his partner, who is perhaps the same person he climbed trees with as a child. Yet the two are now far apart. He is thinking of the past and struggling in the present. She is living 100 years into the future. She has broken free of at least some of what thwarts and binds us now.

She is already thinking and behaving in ways that will eventually gain broad political and cultural acceptance, but that are currently deemed unacceptable.

For example, in Britain in the 1810s, tens of thousands of women and men gathered in open-air protests to demand the right to vote, but it was 1918 before there was universal male suffrage and 1928 before there was universal female suffrage.

Those early 19th century demonstrators were ahead by a century (and more). They recognized a blatant social injustice and started campaigning against it, but it took one hundred years for the rest of society to catch up.

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. — another Nobel Laureate — spoke powerfully of his “dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Since then, 53 years have passed, and we are nowhere near living up to these words, as the recent bigotry in Charlottesville, Va., makes shatteringly clear. Will we live up to them by 2064, or will we discover — sadly and shamefully — that King was ahead by much more than a century?

"The Tragically Hip receive their honorary degrees"
Members of The Tragically Hip, from left, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair, and Rob Baker, received honorary degrees from Queen's during the 2016 Spring Convocation. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

A vision of Canada beset with tragedy and injustice

In the second verse, the singer continues to draw together the despair of adulthood (“Stare in the morning shroud”) with the exuberance of childhood (“I tilted your cloud”), before anchoring himself in the present (“Rain falls in real time”), and insisting again on the importance of using our time meaningfully: “No dress rehearsal / This is our life.”

The second bridge runs revealing variations on the first, and deepens the themes already in place: This time it is not “where” but “when the hornet stung me,” and the dream is not “feverish” but “serious.” Then, as the band and the singer build toward the close, the chorus is repeated twice, emphasizing with more and more urgency the distance between the singer and his partner.

The song might have ended with the repetition of the chorus, but the singer has one final thing to say: “And disappointing you is getting me down.” It is his acknowledgement that he wishes he was as far ahead as she is, and perhaps too it hints at her disappointment that he is unable to close the ground between them.

But thinking and feeling as he does, regarding the past as he does, misspending his time as he does, seeing a “morning shroud” instead of a morning sun as he does, he seems trapped while she moves into a far more expansive future.

More broadly, the Hip themselves in many ways invoke the dynamics that are at work within this song. They write about Canadian history, language, peoples, landscapes, and towns, and their sense of who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and where we need to go is at the crux of their music.

Their vision of Canada is beset by tragedy and injustice, but also lifted by beauty, humour, and courage. Most of all, at their finest, they urge us to rethink the present, and to imagine a more generous and accepting future that should not be ahead of us by a century.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Queen's remembers alumna Tammy Chen

A Queen’s community member was killed in the Aug. 13 terror attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Tammy Chen (M.Ed.’10) was killed in the restaurant shooting along with her husband Mehsen Fenaiche.

"Tammy Chen"
Tammy Chen

Tammy pursued her Master’s of Education at the Faculty of Education from 2007 to 2010. A vibrant young woman, she had been working in Burkina Faso to empower people to improve their lives through education. She had started a foundation – Brighter Futures of Burkina Faso – that focused on sustainable, community-based development. At the time of her death, she was combining her work in Burkina Faso with research for her doctorate at Cambridge University. 

Tammy will be remembered as a kind and caring teacher, who took time to get the best out of each of her pupils. She sincerely believed in trying to make the world a better place through helping others, and with the power of education, and did so courageously and joyfully.

A personal remembrance by Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler is available on the Faculty of Education website.

Further information about her research and work is available in a 2010 article written for the School of Graduate Studies website.

Information regarding funeral arrangements will be posted when available.

Busy construction season in and around campus

  • It takes a lot of effort to keep all the limestone on campus looking good. Kathleen Ryan Hall is undergoing stone replacement and repointing.
    It takes a lot of effort to keep all the limestone on campus looking good. Kathleen Ryan Hall is undergoing stone replacement and repointing.
  • Fleming Hall was mentioned in the university's deferred maintenance plan as needing stone replacement and repointing. The scaffolding will be up until the fall, and back again next summer.
    Fleming Hall was mentioned in the university's deferred maintenance plan as needing stone replacement and repointing. The scaffolding will be up until the fall, and back again next summer.
  • A major new biomedical research facility is being constructed within Botterell Hall - part of government funding announced in October 2016.
    A major new biomedical research facility is being constructed within Botterell Hall - part of government funding announced in October 2016.
  • Over in Mackintosh-Corry, students can look forward to new classrooms on the third floor, and a new 'student street' on the main floor (seen under construction here).
    Over in Mackintosh-Corry, students can look forward to new classrooms on the third floor, and a new 'student street' on the main floor (seen under construction here).

It is prime construction season, and the campus is abuzz with the sounds of drills, hammers, and heavy machinery.

Projects are currently underway in 30 buildings, ranging from elevator repairs, to stone replacement and repointing, to steam line upkeep, to a new roof for the University Club, and a brand new sidewalk in between Ontario Hall and Grant Hall.

Perhaps most interesting to students, extensive renovations are underway in Mackintosh-Corry to create a renewed ‘student street’ on the first floor, and new classrooms on the third.

This work is in addition to the Innovation and Wellness Centre construction project, scheduled to wrap up in fall 2018, and the biomedical research lab renovations in Botterell Hall. All told, the value of planned and completed repairs and upgrades this year is approximately $130 million.

In addition to all of the Queen’s campus construction projects, the City of Kingston has been working to replace the Division Street watermain. This has restricted access to parts of Union and Divisions Streets on campus. Construction has recently advanced north up Division, which means Union Street has now re-opened in both directions through the middle of campus.

As part of this work, a new streetlight and crosswalk are being installed at the intersection of Union and Division. The City of Kingston received numerous concerns from students over the years about crossing in this area, and a City spokesperson says the reconstruction of Division Street provided an excellent opportunity to install a new traffic signal during the planned work.

With the construction moving up Division, the street is now closed to traffic from just north of Union Street to Johnson Street. Access to the loading dock at the Queens ARC will be maintained at all times during the road closure via Clergy Street. It is expected that Division Street south of Earl Street will be paved prior to student move in. Construction crews will open up as much of the roadways as possible to minimize the impacts to traffic during student move in.

Further construction updates will be posted in the Campus Updates section of The Gazette and the Queen’s Gazette Today email.

Eight teams win seed funding at 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition

The Fitra team presents at the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition
The Fitra team presents at the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition (Supplied photo: James McLellan)

Eight teams of budding entrepreneurs have secured seed funding at the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition, taking home at least $10,000 to invest in their business.

The top prize of $30,000 was awarded to Fitra, a venture that aims to retrofit health clubs with sensor technology that can track and provide feedback metrics to gym owners and facility managers, thereby keeping members motivated to reach their fitness goals.

"It seems absolutely surreal that the pitch competition is done,” says Blair Halenda (Sc’18). “Being a part of the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative 2017 cohort has been a great learning experience, and we all feel so fortunate to be given this opportunity. We are looking forward to working with our beta testers, including the Queen’s Athletic and Recreation Centre and the YMCA of Kingston, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Other seed funding recipients include Spectra Plasmonics, Dream Again, and Your Mobility Innovations, who each took home $15,000, while TimberWolf Cycles, Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth, Whisk, Ozira Foods were awarded $10,000 each.

“On behalf of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, congratulations and a job well done to all of our participants and our pitch competition winners,” says Greg Bavington (Sc'85), Executive Director, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “Every year, the quality of participants in our Summer Initiative improves and 2017 was no exception. This event is an exciting opportunity to bring together local innovation leaders and future talent to support the growth of several start-ups in our area, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for all our competitors.”

In addition to the eight Queen's student businesses competing in the pitch competition, four regional businesses also had the opportunity to compete for funding this year. This addition to the annual pitch competition was opened up through the Dunin-Deshpande gift, announced in 2016, to support regional innovation and entrepreneurship. Total available funding was also increased this year due to a $10,000 gift offered by the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research).

“As a team we are thrilled about the win, and excited about the opportunities it will open up in the future,” says Dylan Houlden of Your Mobility Innovations. “Our next steps are product testing as well as setting up pilot tests with our early adopters and preparing for the GrindSpaceXL application process. We couldn't be more thankful for all the help we received from our mentors, from the QICSI Executive Team, and from the Queen’s Biomedical Innovations Team, as well as the opportunity to be a part of this years’ QICSI cohort. We would also like to thank our team from the Loyalist College Entrepreneurial Studies Business Launch program as they continue to show endless support.”

To learn more about all the teams which competed this year, click here.

Queen's Alumni Review app launched

The Queen’s Alumni Review app is now live and available for download in the Apple App store for IOS devices and Google Play and Amazon AppStore for Android devices. Search for ‘Queen’s Alumni Review” in your preferred app store.

Currently, Issue 2-2017 (May) is available through the app. Issue 3-2017 (August) will be available through the app as of Aug. 31, when the print and online versions of the magazine are available. 

The app version of the magazine provides the full print magazine experience, with scroll-through pages that can be enlarged on a phone or tablet. The ability to email, click through on web links, and share articles by email or social media directly from one’s device  is also available in the app version of the magazine.  

International students pitch in around Kingston

The Queen's School of English Volunteer Club visits the Salvation Army
The Queen's School of English Volunteer Club visits the Salvation Army Kingston (Supplied photo)

For a group of international students, it has been a busy summer. The twenty students, representing Japan, China, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and Korea, have been in town to upgrade their English skills through an English for Academic Purposes program. In their spare time, this group has been giving back to the community through the Queen’s School of English Volunteer Club.

“The idea to form this club came from my time teaching Social Welfare and Volunteerism in New Zealand, and speaking with international students while visiting partner universities in Japan,” says Robin Cox, Director, School of English. “Volunteering is one of the best ways for international students to get involved in their local community, and our English for Academic Purposes students here at Queen’s were seeking ways to give back during their studies. Working with our Student Life social activities monitor, Chris Suppa (Ed’17, MEd’19), we planned a program for the summer, and Chris organized a number of activities for them. We were really delighted with the response from both the students and the community.”

The club is a first-of-its-kind initiative for the School of English. After an initial meeting in early June, interested students sought opportunities to volunteer which centered on the importance of being kind to others, having fun while collaborating, and using volunteering as an opportunity to build connections and practice the English language.

The students started in their own backyard by rolling up their sleeves and doing a bit of gardening. They planted peas, summer squash, and radish seeds in the beds at the John Orr Tower Community Garden located on the west campus, and have been maintaining the plants throughout the summer months.

The students also paid a visit to Lord Strathcona elementary school for a cultural exchange in June, and prepared meals for Martha’s Table community program.

For their final act of charity, the students took up a collection for the Salvation Army Food Drive. The students chose the Salvation Army as their charity of choice due to its commitment to service both across Canada and internationally, and the fact they were operating during the summer. The 10-day food drive brought in 204 items.

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with this entire team of committed and motivated students,” says Mr. Suppa. “I am proud of every single one of them in their dedication to their studies and service. The students should be very proud knowing how many lives they touched and made a difference in.”

Due to the strong positive reception, the club will continue to be offered during English for Academic Purposes programs in the fall, winter, and summer sessions. In addition, the students who volunteered at least 20 hours each received a certificate of recognition from the School of English.

“The Volunteer Club’s support through the Summer Food Drive has made a positive impact on our agency’s Community Choice Pantry program, and we are truly grateful for their support,” says Maria Sadowy, Events, Media, & Volunteer Coordinator, The Salvation Army Kingston. “The club’s contribution allows us to continue to bring hope and dignity to those experiencing the cycle of poverty so that, together, we can work towards a stronger community. We hope that this may encourage more members in our community to get involved and help make a positive impact.”

Future volunteer events and other updates from the Queen’s School of English Volunteer Club will be available on queensu.ca/qsoe.

Ban Righ Foundation awards honour inspirational women

Every year, Queen’s Ban Righ Centre supports hundreds of women who have returned to university studies after a break. These students come from diverse backgrounds and have unique stories, but what they have in common is the support network that flows from the centre, across campus and into the Kingston community.

'Karla McGrath"
The Faculty of Law’s Karla McGrath is the 2017 winner of the Ban Righ Foundation Mentorship Award. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

To honour that network, the Ban Righ Foundation, the centre’s volunteer Board of Directors, has established two special awards. The Ban Righ Foundation Mentorship Award recognizes a Queen’s faculty member who has inspired and supported women in achieving their goals; the Ban Righ Foundation Leadership Award honours a woman who has fostered opportunities for others, and made a positive contribution to the Kingston community.

This 2017 award recipients are the Faculty of Law’s Karla McGrath, and Susan Belyea, founder of the local food reclamation charity, Loving Spoonful.

“The Ban Righ Foundation is pleased to recognize the significant contributions that Karla and Susan have made to student life at Queen’s, and to their communities,” says Erin Clow, Equity Advisor, Equity and Human Rights Offices, and co-chair of the foundation’s Board of Directors. “There are so many women at Queen’s and in Kingston who provide incredible amounts of support to others, and inspire our students to succeed.”

Ms. McGrath, who teaches children's law, and is the founding director of Queen’s Family Law Clinic, was nominated by current and former students who described how her mentorship, advice and support helped build their confidence and to thrive, professionally and personally.

"Susan Belyea"
Susan Belyea, founder of the local food reclamation charity, Loving Spoonful, is this year's recipient of the Ban Righ Foundation Leadership Award. (Photo by Eric Brousseau) 

Under Ms. Belyea’s leadership, Loving Spoonful was established and has grown to include local farmers, school and community gardens, and healthy cooking education, providing greater food security for hundreds of residents. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Queen’s; she teaches at the university and remains active in the community.

Ms. McGrath and Ms. Belyea will be honoured at the Ban Righ Foundation’s Inspiring Women event on Oct. 20, at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts that will feature musical performances and a talk by alumna Amma Bonsu (Artsci’02, Artsci’03).

“Building on the success of last year’s inaugural, Inspiring Women Event, this year’s event is shaping up to be equally as dynamic and entertaining,” says Ms. Clow. “Event attendees will be treated to a night filled with music, laughter and community building.”

Founded in 1974, the Ban Righ Centre at 32 Bader Lane, is a welcoming, safe space and resource centre for mature women students, providing advice, financial assistance, daily soup, female faculty mentors, quiet study spaces, and community. Visit the Ban Righ Centre website for more information.

Theological Hall to be temporarily closed during power outage on August 16

Theological Hall will be temporarily closed during a planned power outage on Wednesday, August 16 between 5 am and 8 am while contractors install a new breaker in the main electrical distribution panel for the building in order to power the modernized elevator.

There are no fire safety implications during the outage as the building’s fire alarm system will operate on battery backup. Emergency and exit lights will operate on battery backup only for a short duration. Only authorized personnel (Physical Plant Services staff and contractors) are permitted to be in the building while the outage is in progress.

Occupants should power down computers and sensitive equipment prior to leaving for the day on Tuesday, August 15.

For more information, please contact Fixit at ext. 77301 or by email.

Power outage scheduled to affect Clark Hall, elevators in Carruthers Hall and Stewart-Pollock Wing on Aug 16

Clark Hall will be temporarily closed during a planned power outage on Wednesday, August 16 between 6 am and 8 am while contractors install a new circuit breaker and electrical feeder for contractors working on the Fleming Hall stone restoration project.

There are no fire safety implications during the outage as the building’s fire alarm system will operate on battery backup. Emergency and exit lights will operate on battery backup only for a short duration. Only authorized personnel (Physical Plant Services staff and contractors) are permitted to be in Clark Hall while the outage is in progress.

Occupants should power down computers and sensitive equipment in Clark Hall prior to leaving for the day on Tuesday, August 15.

Special Note: This planned outage will also affect the passenger elevators in Carruthers Hall (EL1041) and Fleming Hall, Stewart-Pollock Wing (EL1371). These elevators will be removed from service on Wednesday, August 16 shortly before 6 am and will be restored to service by 8:30 am.

For more information, please contact Fixit at ext. 77301 or by email.

UPDATED: Water shutdowns to affect Ellis Hall on August 15

UPDATE>>> The ongoing water shutdown in Ellis Hall is being extended overnight to August 16 at 9 am (approximate timing) due to unforeseen circumstances.

Please continue to direct building occupants and visitors to washrooms in Mackintosh-Corry Hall as there will not be domestic water for flushing toilets or hand washing.

In addition, all cold room testing and hydraulic actuator testing should remain shut down. The vacuum supply will continue to be unavailable and no chemical mixing or use is permitted while the emergency eyewashes and showers continue to be out of service. 

 

UPDATE>>> The test water shutdown for Ellis Hall today (August 14) has been cancelled; however, the full day shutdown on Tuesday, August 15 (7 am – 6 pm) will move forward as referenced below.

Water service to Ellis Hall will be shut down as follows:

  • Tuesday, August 15 between 7 am and 6 pm – To permit contractors, working on behalf of Physical Plant Services, to continue work associated with the replacement of the main sanitary line to the building.

During the shutdown periods, there will not be domestic water for flushing toilets, hand washing, safety showers, eye wash stations, lab or kitchen use, etc. As a result, all cold room testing and hydraulic actuator testing should be shut down as the building’s Fluid Cooler replenishes its water reservoir regularly. In addition, the vacuum supply will also be unavailable and no chemical mixing or use is permitted while the emergency eyewashes and showers are out of service.

Please direct building occupants and visitors to washrooms in Mackintosh-Corry Hall while each shutdown is in progress.

Note: There may be discolouration or air in your water when a tap is first opened following the service interruption. This is quite normal and is an aesthetic problem only; it does not present a safety concern. Run your water for several minutes before using it and the problem should quickly remedy itself. It is best to perform this initial flushing at a tap that is not equipped with a mesh strainer in order to avoid a possible fouling of the strainer.

For more information, please contact Denis Moore, Project Manager, by phone at ext. 32920 or by email.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Campus Community