BU alumni raising money to replace ‘Senior Stick’

August 24, 2016

A pair of ornate silver-ringed staffs called the "Senior Stick" and the "Lady Stick" were passed every year to student leaders, holders of an office also called the "Senior Stick" and the "Lady Stick." Photo courtesy the S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.

For decades, student leaders at Brandon College, now Brandon University (BU), held a symbolic staff that demonstrated the responsibility and honour of their elected positions.

The Senior Stick and Lady Stick were students who served senior roles in the student executive of the college, and although their precise roles and responsibilities changed over time, they were generally seen as student body president and vice-president, working with the heads of other student organizations and class year presidents to help the college’s social and student life run smoothly.

The Stick wasn’t just a title, it was also an actual stick. Each year until 1967, when Brandon College became Brandon University, the Senior and Lady Stick were each presented with a solid wooden staff, covered in silver rings that bore the name and year of every previous officeholder.

“Student government at Brandon University has always been committed to the development of rights and responsibilities, equality of opportunity and the creation of a vibrant community culture,” says Anne (Franklin) Taylor, who was Lady Stick for the Class of 1965. “The silver-ringed sticks of Brandon College days were and are potent symbols of that on-going commitment.”

Plot twist: The Senior Stick is missing.

“At one time, both Senior and Lady Stick were housed in a wood-and-glass display case that was donated by the Class of ’66, the final year that bore them,” says Carla Eisler, Alumni Relations Officer at BU. “Each stick is about three feet long and an inch thick, with a taper. With a few dozen silver rings on them, they’re really quite ceremonial. As far as we know, for many years, they were on display in the library.”

The Senior Stick and Lady Stick, on display. Photo courtesy the S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.

The Senior Stick and Lady Stick, on display. Photo courtesy the S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.

Today, that display case is housed in the McKee Archives at BU, along with the Lady Stick. But the Senior Stick? Nobody knows.

Some point to extensive renovations in the mid-1990s as when the Senior Stick may have gone missing, but no one is really sure.

Now, a group of dedicated BU alumni, including Taylor, say the best way to get the Senior Stick back is to have a full replica made, complete with names and class years of all the former Senior Sticks engraved on silver rings, just like the original.

“In the transition from college to university, the names assigned to executives of student government changed while their role at the heart of the university community continued to evolve,” recalls Taylor, who is helping organize the replica. “The recreation of the missing Senior Stick will reaffirm that role and that commitment and focus our celebration marking this 50th anniversary of the transition from Brandon College to Brandon University.”

“The Senior and Lady Stick are wonderful symbols of the connection that each class year develops to the institution, and to each other,” added BU President Gervan Fearon. “The physical act of adding one ring atop another and presenting the stick to the next year’s holder demonstrates the passing on of culture and tradition of engaged student governance and activities that continues here today. I am touched to see alumni who continue to celebrate their ties to Brandon College and strengthen their relationship to Brandon University by contributing to the restoration of this valuable tradition. In fact, our alumni are a wonderful treasure of the institution.”

The drive really started at last year’s Homecoming weekend, Eisler says.

“Our alumni recognize the importance of the Senior Stick,” she says, “and with the 50th anniversary of the final class year coming up, they really felt it was the perfect time to honour that heritage and history by refashioning it.”

A complete replica stick, with engraved solid silver rings, would cost about $5,300 to create. About $2,000 of that has already been raised, Eisler says,

“Once we have both Senior and Lady Stick, we would really like to have them both on display somewhere again, hopefully in the same cabinet that was originally donated for that purpose,” she says. “And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could incorporate them somehow into the current student government?”

Anyone who would like to donate to the replacement of the Senior Stick can call Carla Eisler at 204-727-9697 or donate online at brandonu.ca/give.

A history of student sticks

YEAR SENIOR STICK LADY STICK
1919 – 1920 Norman McDonald
1920 – 1921 H. Olson
1921 – 1922 Alexander M. Derby
1922 – 1923 Donald G. McKnight
1923 – 1924 Elmer Raymond Carter Aleta Elizabeth Stewart
1924 – 1925 Frederick James Westcott Kathleen Emily Kenner
1925 – 1926 Joseph Lester Gayton Rose Jeane Vasey
1926 – 1927 A Derby Ruth Ethel Clement
1927 – 1928 J.B. Thompson Doris Marietta Cochrane
1928 – 1929 John Bernard Hawson Berth Clark
1929 – 1930 Thomas Douglas Mary Helen Dunkin
1930 – 1931 Stanley J. Westaway Lois R. Gainer
1931 – 1932 Frank A. Kerr Phyllis Grace Blandford
1932 – 1933 Hugh Lorne Umphrey Ruth Thornton
1933 – 1934 George McGregor Eileen Metcalfe
1934 – 1935 Norman Keith McKinnon Marion I. Thomson
1935 – 1936 Tommy Morison Ruth Jacqueline Bell
1936 – 1937 Earl T. Mills Doris M. Fraser
1937 – 1938 Douglas C. Downing Mary Stewart Murray
1938 – 1939 Leslie W. Roberts Elva C. Way
1939 – 1940 Thomas H.M. McLeod Gwendolyn Elizabeth Dobbie
1940 – 1941 Stanley “Bud” Searle Ruth Hunter
1941 – 1942 Jim Nelson Alixe Meadows
1942 – 1943 Clifford Kitson Doreen Bolstad
1943 – 1944 George Longphee Iva J. Delamater
1944 – 1945 Andrew Judson Lenore Gusdal
1945 – 1946 Gordon Lindsay F. Elizabeth Northcott
1946 – 1947 Jack Neelin Doreen Rowse
1947 – 1948 Frank Humphries Eunice Hunter
1948 – 1949 Stephen Symbalisty Marjory Fleming
1949 – 1950 Finley Campbell Margaret Gerow
1950 – 1952 Angus Juckes Patricia Magnacca
1951 – 1952 Paul McKinnon Joan Garnett
1952 – 1953 James Struthers Mary Jane McLachlan
1953 – 1954 John P. Minions Olga Evaskow
1954 – 1955 Frank McKinnon Verda Peden
1955 – 1956 Laurie Craddock Jean Hannah
1956 – 1957 Jack Fotheringham Barbara Mills
1957 – 1958 Jack Jubenvill Elaine Fraser
1958 – 1959 Jim Melvin Barbara Russell
1959 – 1960 Robert Melvin Regina Armstrong
1960 – 1961 Gladwyn Scott Penny Smith
1961 – 1962 Ron Keeler Florence English
1962 – 1963 Spence Bell Verna Moore
1963 – 1964 Warren Veale Poppy Cumming
1964 – 1965 Russell Lusk Anne Franklin
1965 – 1966 Bill Sparling Terry Moore

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, and educates students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.

For more information, please contact:

Carla Eisler
Alumni Relation Officer
204.727.9697
EislerC@BrandonU.ca

Grant Hamilton
Marketing Communications Officer
204.571.8542
HamiltonG@BrandonU.ca