Sesquicentennial Anniversary

[photo of the Sesquicentennial anniversary parade]

Courtesy Merv Daub

Queen's celebrated its 150th anniversary from May 1991 to May 1992 with a long list of high-profile academic and non-academic events, headlined by a Royal Visit on October 28, 1991 from Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales.

The focus of the Royal Visit was a convocation ceremony at which Prince Charles received an honorary Doctorate of Laws and delivered a major speech on Canadian unity.

The prince also unveiled a plaque near Fleming Field (re-named Agnes Benidickson Field in 1996), declaring Queen's a national historic site, unveiled a replica of the Queen's Royal Charter in the John Deutsch University Centre, and visited the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

The other central event of the sesquicentennial anniversary was University Day on October 16, which commemorated the granting of Queen's Royal Charter on that date in 1841. The day included a reception at Grant Hall, at which Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn unveiled a commemorative postage stamp and officially registered the Queen's coat of arms and flag; a special sesquicentennial convocation honouring 12 distinguished men and women from Canada and abroad; and a satellite broadcast of the day's events to alumni branches across Canada.

Other prominent non-academic events during the anniversary year included a dress parade of Royal Military College cadets to Queen's in May 1991 and opening and closing barbecues for faculty, staff, and retirees.

Among the most prominent academic events was the Learned Societies Conference, an annual meeting of more than 7,000 Canadian scholars at Queen's in May 1991, and the "Citizen and the State" lecture series, which brought an international cast of writers, scholars, activists, and scientists to Queen's to discuss issues related to the development and future of the modern state.

Topics at other conferences included the evolution of Canadian business, medicine in the 21st century, engineering and the environment, and the past, present, and future of Kingston. The sesquicentennial celebrations were organized by hundreds of people across campus and coordinated by members of the specially appointed Office of the Sesquicentennial, which was located in the Old Medical Building from 1988 to 1992.

The lavishly illustrated Queen's: The First 150 Years coffee table book (see Books about Queen's) was published to commemorate Queen's sesquicentennial. It contains more than 160 contemporary and historical photographs of the university and dozens of anecdotes about the most intriguing and important people and events in Queen's history. It was produced by Hedgehog Productions for Queen's Alumni Association.