A Burst of Growth

The article that changed the UofO campus and drew people to Le Hibou.

That year (1961), the University of Ottawa revealed its twenty-five year building plan, a plan concocted by three people: architect Jean-Serge Le Fort, Bill Boss, the U of O Communications Director and then Rector Rev Henri Légaré.  I was both appalled and infuriated by the plan.  Most of my courses at Ottawa U were in a Le Fort building, a bleak, rectangular, soviet-style building with few redeeming features.  Moreover, these twenty or so buildings that were proposed in the twenty-five year plan had no connecting fabric—just a bunch of buildings scattered about.  I thought that, with the U of O campus being in the heart of the nation’s capital, the city deserved better.

I wrote a letter to the University of Ottawa student paper, The Fulcrum (still going strong), venting all the fury of my young, idealistic heart.  It was not long before journalists picked up the story, and Le Hibou was swarmed by the media for television, radio, and newspapers interviews.  A group of Ottawa architects applauded, met, and pressed for changes to the plan.  At meetings, I met Matt Stankiewicz and John Leaning. More about them later.  The furor was such that the University of Ottawa relented and named Murray & Murray as chief architects, with Le Fort as consultant.  I was pleased with the outcome and doubly pleased to see new Le Hibou members joining up.  Today, as I drive by the University of Ottawa campus, I always marvel that one little article in The Fulcrum provoked such a change.

Summer Doldrums

April arrived and exam time was approaching quickly. It was “cramming time” for many students, including me, since I was still at University. (I passed except for one philosophy course which I had rewrite that August.) Although we had new members, thanks to the coverage from the architecture issues with the University, half of our membership was students and they were busy studying. By summer, attendance was worse. Out-of-town students moved out; others enjoyed the great weather. Not having enough money in the bank to cover the rent, we set up a merry-go-round: I would write a cheque to the landlord, cover it with a personal cheque, George would cover my personal cheque with his, Jean would do the same, followed by Andre, then back to the Le Hibou account. Thanks to that strategy, which gave a few weeks leeway, there finally would be enough money in the account to cover the rent. I don’t think this technique would work now in an electronic era but, at the time, the club wouldn’t have survived without it.