A family tradition

A family tradition

June 10, 2016


When Anna Porte (Artsci'16) arrived at Queen's, it marked the seventh generation of her family to attend the university. Front, from left: Ms. Porte; Principal Daniel Woolf; and Anne Boyle. Back, from left: Peter McConnell; Andrea Wells; Sean Boyle; Bill Wells; Chancellor Jim Leech; and Rector Cameron Yung. (University Communications)   

Convocation at Queen’s University is full of traditions.

There are the special ceremonies, the bagpipes, the singing of God Save the Queen.

It is also a time of traditions for many families. A new generation enters Grant Hall a graduand and exits a graduate.

On June 2, when Anna Porte (Artsci’16) stepped onto the stage she became the seventh generation of her family to receive a degree from Queen’s.

Understandably, it was an important moment for the family. As Anne Boyle (Arts’55), Anna’s grandmother and the de facto clan records keeper, explains, the Queen’s tradition started with her grandfather, James McGee Young, who graduated from the School of Medicine in 1902. Dr. Young also starred on the playing field, captaining the Queen’s football team as a halfback.

This led to a curious bit of family history.

“There was this cute story in his obituary about the fact that he had to play for Queen’s against McGill and his brother was captain of the McGill team,” Ms. Boyle says, adding that Dr. Young remained close to the university after graduating and served on the board of trustees for Queen’s Theological College.

Dr. Young’s sons would also graduate from Queen’s medicine and his daughter attended the university for two years before moving to Montreal to study nursing.

As the years went on, more and more family members – Youngs, Robertsons, Boyles and a Porte – would come to Queen’s. It’s not so much that anyone was pushed to attend, Ms. Boyle says. Education was key for the family and Queen’s was always at the forefront of the conversation.

That’s a conversation that continues today.

“It’s a wonderful story of believing in an institution and believing in it enough that you send your loved ones, one after the next,” says Andrea Wells, Anna’s mother. “It’s a lovely history and legacy for the family and Queen’s.”

When it came time for Anna to decide which university she would attend, she wasn’t pushed to go to Queen’s. But, of course, there was a bit of guidance.

“Anna knew about the (family) history when she was thinking of where to go,” recalls Ms. Boyle. “So I gave her my Queen’s ring. I thought that would encourage her.”

Arts and Science