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Its hard to profess that Peter Robinson College and the Jolly Hangman pub were the best things going, knowing full well that’s exactly how others feel about their own college, but I’m willing to give it a go.
Like with most pivotal events, we don’t realize how important they are until afterwards (long afterwards). So it goes without saying, some time has passed. I still recall being in my last year of high school and developing this ideal of what I wanted the next step in my life to be. Universities would come to my school and pitch their wears but i wasn’t buying. There was this sameness to it all and you got the sense you where being jammed through this mould that would make your life smaller in the end.
I took a year off and worked. Some friends where going to Trent and invited me up. It so happened that they were PR students and they took me out to the Hangman. Bingo! That’s what I was looking for! At the time, the ideal I was searching for could not be named or described and only now, years later, do I have the words and experience to be able to articulate what it was.
Looking back, I see Trent University as being pure academia (with a liberal bent), Peter Robinson College was where the curtains opened just a little (cultural studies), and then the Hangman: where the blinds were torn down and the possibilities were endless.
That’s what I wanted, thats what we all wanted. It was a place where you could go to reach beyond what you have been taught. It was a place where you could experiment without being judged, a place to push both ideas and ideals further than they could ever go in the mainstream, something that sadly very few people get to experience.
Pictured (left to right) are Pat McMahon and Louis Faigan.
Was it by design or just dumb luck? I tend to think it was a combination of the two. It started out as a simple pub for students but it was left to the students to run.
While liberal tenancies flourished at Peter Robinson College, they where overflowing in the Hangman. Essentially, the environment was created and the administration got out of the way, allowing things to naturally unfold.
The Hangman was this wonderful place to explore music, art, and politics. For many, it represented the start of what would become their life long pursuit. For most, it shaped how we walk through life.
There is a great fear by many that, as places like PR and the Hangman are closed for more mainstream outlets, an important voice is lost. Some call it the hollowing out of the liberal class.
I look forward to meeting up with my PR brothers and sisters today and discovering that just the opposite is true. That the seeds planted during our days at PR and the Hangman have indeed prevailed and that our roots run deep. Not only have we planted a forest, but that this forest is getting bigger.
The generation before us where builders. Men and women of vision who built universities and colleges. As we gather together to celebrate the past, perhaps we can also spend some time thinking about the future. We could rail against the change that has happened or we could start building!
Enjoy the celebrations and stay connected with your college at www.prcsa.ca.