Queen’s Remembers is an initiative which commemorates those who have made significant and noteworthy contributions to the history of Queen’s University. These groups are remembered and recognized through commemorative plinths installed across campus – steel pillars which hold either a sturdy weather proof book containing pages of text and images or a simple plaque with no pages, depending on the layout and the subject. The plinths are designed to help staff and faculty, students, and other visitors to the campus form a more complete picture of the history of Queen’s.
Honouring Indigenous Peoples
The first plinth was unveiled in October 2017, honouring the Indigenous Peoples upon whose traditional lands Queen’s was built – the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee. The plinth is located on McGibbon Walk, between Douglas Library and Ontario Hall.
Honouring 5th Field Company
In recognition of the contributions of the 5th Field Company, a commemorative plinth was unveiled on November 11, 2017. Joining Queen’s for this ceremony were local veterans and military members, including representatives from the Royal Military College of Canada.
With the threat of war in Europe, Canada began to form volunteer units for military training. Queen’s University was the first Canadian university to form an officially recognized military unit, in 1909, comprising engineering students and faculty; the 5th Field Company. In August 1914, the government called upon the 5th Field Company when it needed space to train and prepare its soldiers. The men were sent to Valcartier, Québec. Their mission: turn acres of land into a highly organized camp for up to 30,000 men, with roads, a water supply system, and space for tents. Once the work was complete, the group was divided up – some headed across the sea to fight, while others supported the war effort from Canada.
The unit was ‘the only purely University Company in Canada’, and was led by Professor and Major Alexander Macphail. Under his leadership the students and faculty were trained in the years prior to the outbreak of war, making them well prepared to respond when Canada entered the fight.
“On Remembrance Day, we reflect on the service and sacrifices of Canadian men and women, during both wartime and peacekeeping missions,” said Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “This year, we pay special tribute to a group of Queen’s alumni and professors – the 5th Field Company – while also acknowledging the many others in our community who have served, and continue to serve, our country. This plinth will serve as an important and lasting reminder of their legacy.”
The plinth features an eight-page booklet containing information about the company, how it was formed, and their training. It speaks of the wartime contributions of the company, as well as the history of the company between the World Wars. Mention will be made of the Memorial Room in the John Deutsch University Centre in which the names of the fallen are listed.
The monument is located at the intersection of Union Street and Fifth Field Company Lane, which runs through campus past a number of buildings including Nicol Hall, Miller Hall, and the Fifth Field Company Campus Bookstore, also named for the company.
Remembering the Neutrino and a Nobel Prize
A plinth commemorating the Nobel Prize-winning neutrino discoveries of the team at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) scientific collaboration – led by Dr. Art McDonald, Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics Emeritus in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy at Queen’s – was installed in April 2018 between Ontario and Grant Halls.
Dr. McDonald was the co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of neutrino oscillations, a phenomenon which proved that neutrinos have mass. He shared the prize with Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, whose research made similar detections possible.
Neutrinos, which are sometimes referred to as the ‘building blocks of the universe’, are tiny subatomic particles with almost no mass and no charge. The SNO Collaboration’s discovery increased human understanding of these particles, which ultimately helps scientists understand how stars, galaxies, and the universe itself has evolved since the Big Bang.
“Queen’s University has been wonderfully supportive of the SNO research work and continues to support strongly the ongoing work at the SNOLAB underground laboratory,” said Dr. McDonald. “Those of us who have worked on SNO are very appreciative of this commemoration of the important contributions of many Queen’s students, post-doctoral fellows, staff, and faculty that led to this scientific success.”
Additionally, a replica of Dr. McDonald’s Nobel Prize medal was put on permanent display at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
“The research conducted by the incredible team at SNO, under the leadership of Dr. Art McDonald, has an impact that goes far beyond Queen’s University,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The vision of those who started the collaboration, including Dr. George Ewan, Professor Emeritus of the Physics Department at Queen’s, and the late Dr. Herb Chen, and the dedication of all who have worked on it since, have helped Canada become a leader in the field of particle astrophysics. We are delighted to recognize and celebrate their achievement with these two inspirational displays.”
The planning for the Queen’s Remembers initiative was led by Principal Woolf in collaboration with the facilities and university planning teams, University Relations, and those with specific ties to the topics being commemorated.