Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 11, 1999

University opens 'front door' for Alumni Weekend 1999

The official opening of a newly-restored conservatory greenhouse and gardens complex will be the highlight of Alumni Weekend June 18 to 20 at the University of Guelph. The weekend will also feature alumni awards, class reunions, special presentations, meetings and gatherings.

The conservatory and gardens opening will be held Saturday, June 19 at 3 p.m., culminating a Conservatory Restoration and Gardens Development Project that was spearheaded by alumni, faculty and staff and funded in part by cash gifts and gifts-in-kind from alumni and the private sector, including a leadership gift from alumnus Don Rutherford (BSA 51) that was used to restore the historical greenhouse. The rare architectural treasure, once the campus centrepiece, was built in 1931 by Lord and Burnham of St. Catharines. It is one of the few remaining pagoda-like glass and cypress wood structures left in North America.

When it was first built, the greenhouse was a working showpiece, designed for the study of floriculture. It was surrounded by ornamental gardens and a lily pond. Older alumni recall it as a popular spot for dates. But over time, the greenhouse began to deteriorate. In 1992, a group of alumni initiated a plan to preserve and restore the conservatory. In 1994, with the backing of president Mordechai Rozanski, the university agreed to support the restoration, and a project committee was formed.

Now restored to its former glory, the conservatory greenhouse will serve as the university's "front door." Surrounding the conservatory are six thematic gardens -- spring, summer, fall, winter, water and woodland, as well as walkways and seating areas. Individual gardens are named in honour of their chief supporters: the Ontario Agricultural College classes of 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955 and 1965, and in memory of the late Doug Robinson, a 1953 OAC graduate.

Other Alumni Weekend events include an opening-day barbecue to be held Friday, June 18, at 5:30 p.m. on Johnston Green and the annual President's Luncheon and presentation of alumni awards, scheduled for Saturday at noon on Johnston Green.

Alumni to be honoured are former OAC dean Ric Richards, BSA 38; OAC graduate David Adams, B.Sc. (Agr.49); and Ontario Veterinary College graduate Duncan Sinclair, DVM 58.

Richards will be named Alumnus of Honour by the U of G Alumni Association in recognition of his lifelong commitment to excellence in university administration, teaching, research and extension. Adams will receive the Alumni Volunteer Award for his ongoing service to the university and various alumni groups during his career in the agri-food industry and into retirement. Sinclair will be recognized by the OVC Alumni Association for the accomplishments that earned him the position of dean at Queen's University medical school.

For more information on Alumni Weekend 1999 or a complete listing of events, pick up a brochure at Alumni House on the U of G campus or call 824-4120, Ext. 6544.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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