Upper Canada controversy


By Bruce Rhodes

Weston, Ontario


December 1994


As a UCC grad, I want to respond to the bleak picture painted by the excerpt from James Fitzgerald’s new book, Old Boys, in which clever, sometimes devious students were pitted against masters only too ready to mete out corporal punishment. While some students from earlier generations may have received questionable discipline from teachers, these events were more a function of the times and of a few headstrong personalities, rather than being reflective of some depraved tradition at the school.


There were a solid half-dozen teachers at the College from whom I learned much, both about specific subject matter, as well as how to think and to reason. They inspired me to make learning a lifelong habit, and were caring and respectful; I never saw nor heard about any use of physical means by masters against students.


Many of us had fun, too, but what with studying hard and going to rowing practice ten times per week, we were too tired to have hatched schemes that would enable us to, say, successfully steal examinations. It is unfortunate that the excerpt did not offer a more balanced portrayal of the College.