"A community forms more quickly, and possibly indelibly, when it has a roof over its head, walls and a kitchen."

- Joanne Page


Since the 1880s, when they first started taking classes at Queen’s University, women have worked with determination to gain higher education. They overcame initial resistance to their right to be students working for a degree. In the early 1900s women students banded together to live communally in various houses in Kingston. By 1926, early Alumnae built the first university residence, Ban Righ Hall.

They also built the tradition of Queen’s women working to “secure for those coming after them, access to all the resources of the University and the same benefits of communal life and study they themselves had known.”

The original funding for the work of the Ban Righ Foundation came from nearly 50 years of management of the women’s residences by the Ban Righ (Residence) Board and the women students.

The Ban Righ Centre was founded in 1974 by women graduates of Queen’s with money earned and invested by alumnae who built and administered the women’s residences until the 1970s.

Our Founders

Special Committee of the Ban Righ Residence Board set up to consider the use of accumulated savings:

  • Helen Anderson, Arts ’46
  • Kiloran German, Arts ’74
  • Gladys Heinz, Arts ’37, M.A. ’38 (President of the Alumnae Association)
  • Evelyn Reid, Dean of Women
  • Rosemary Richardson, Arts ’53
  • Jean Royce, Arts ’30, LLD’68 (Chair)

Founding Board of Management of the Ban Righ Foundation for Continuing University Education:

  • Helen Anderson, Arts ’46
  • Margaret Griffin, Arts ’65, BFA ’83
  • Gladys Heinz, Arts ’37, MA ’38 (past president of the Alumnae Association)
  • Margaret Hooey, Secretary of the University
  • Sylva MacKay, Arts ’44 (president of the Alumnae Association)
  • Helen Mathers, Director of the Ban Righ Foundation
  • Kathleen Morand, Professor of Art History, (Chair)
  • Evelyn Reid, Dean of Women

A support group of four alumnae were designated to assist the Board of Management for the first year:

  • Norah Frood, Arts ’49
  • Bonnie Judge, Arts ’45
  • Rosemary Richardson, Arts ’53
  • Lillian Slater, Arts ’42

Joanne Page, 1998

Drawing from the long tradition of academic quest on the part of Queen’s Women, and anticipating the present concept of continuing education, the founders of the Ban Righ Foundation created an agent of change and of reconciliation, in a single far-reaching throw.

They envisaged the Foundation as a place of intellectual vitality by way of individual accomplishment and mutual encouragement. From their residence experience, they knew that living together, even briefly during the day, promotes familiarity and stability. They held out, then, for the right location and chose a house rather than a series of offices. Perhaps most significantly, they resolved that the Foundation must evolve, as would the University and the profile of the returning student.

Three decades later, the University has indeed changed, as have women’s lives. The institution’s systems have become more regularized, its culture less personal. Tuition has risen. Women, now half the workforce, understand universities as a vehicle for economic advancement as much as personal edification. At a time when social commitment to public education wavers, more women aspire to part-time and full-time admission. As the resources of the administration diminish, the student’s financial burden increases. And, however regrettable, obstacles remain for women returning to education.

The Foundation seeks to reconcile people with place and purpose. Because it is independently housed, because of its obvious and its unexpected links within the academy and the community, because of its history, because it is part of the University and yet it is different, a visiting scholar finds herself comfortably expounding, the new Faculty member voices her fears about tenure, the University staff member wades into a lunch-hour session, a graduate student reveals her research problems, the part-time student gets a toe-hold, a group of forty parents and children enjoy an uproarious supper. The common ground is vast and compelling: thinking, learning.

Striving to be greater than the sum of the parts, the Foundation remains willingly specific in mandate. It is the richness of the parts – the students and the community they create – which makes the Foundation work and enables the students to offer their individual contribution as well as simply attend classes. Programming is intentionally responsive and broad. Its processes are interconnected. Routine varies reflecting need. Discussions flourish. The individual is valued. It is the integration of these parts which enables the student to enter university life fully.

Providing a place for women within what can seem a large unknowable structure, the University demonstrates that the complex mix of goals and personal responsibilities which women students continue to bear is of equal importance to, say, an art collection or a skating rink. Students testify that such a place has been of monumental value, the difference between giving up and continuing.

The University, by definition, must shape the future through the lens of the academic community. The designers of the Foundation worked with the same lens focused on a human scale; the Foundation’s charge is to, when necessary, go after the future for one person. These are two parts of the whole, and a wise institution secures both.

As evidence of the visionary largess of Queen’s Women, the Foundation continues to urge students towards a deep and personal attachment to education. In partnership with the University, it is, by foresight and rarity, a resource and an investment which distinguishes Queen’s from other universities across the country.