Time Capsule: 1903

Today it’s a nondescript, grassed-over stretch between Massey Hall (pictured above in 1910) and Winegard Walk. But for the first half of the 1900s, the campus water reservoir attracted passersby, and even swimmers and skaters.

Measuring 100 by 60 feet and about 10 feet deep, the pool was installed in 1897 for a practical reason. The year before, a fire had razed the former chemistry building that stood directly south of Johnston Hall. Administrators decided to install the reservoir as extra fire protection.

Surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence about three feet high, the pool also became a decorative feature, particularly when tea roses planted around it were in bloom (hence its name as the Rose Bowl).  

Besides its practical and aesthetic qualities, the Rose Bowl served as a makeshift recreational pool.  

The reservoir was used for its intended purpose more than once, including helping extinguish a blaze in the Creelman dining hall. But the pool also presented a hazard; two drownings occured: a child in 1916 and a student in 1930.

By 1956, the campus no longer needed the Rose Bowl, and it was filled in.


  • Supported by a gift from philanthropist Sir William Macdonald, Macdonald Institute opens to offer courses in home economics, nature study and manual training.
  • Massey Hall library opens with just over 10,000 volumes. Built the same year, the Judging Pavilion would become known as the Bullring.
  • Two years earlier, Charles Zavitz, Ontario Agricultural College grad and ultimately OAC president, releases the robust Early Yellow soybean for on-farm evaluation. By 1903, he is confident that soybeans can thrive in Ontario.  


  • Crayola crayons are introduced with eight colours packaged in the same yellow and green box as today.
  • Orville Wright makes the first documented and successful powered flight.
  • Due to a severe drought, the American side of Niagara Falls runs dry, leaving only a trickle of water.  
  • Winners of hockey’s Stanley Cup, the Ottawa Silver Seven team members receive silver nuggets instead of money to preserve their amateur status.  

Do you have a memory to share from your time at U of G? Email a high-resolution photo to porticomagazine@uoguelph.ca and it could appear in Time Capsule.