King’s – A Toast to the University – 1998……

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………………………………On the Verge of the Millennium


To the President of the Graduating Class, to President Starnes, fellow graduates, fellow members of the King’s Community,  I bring you greetings from foreign lands. From Singapore, from Ottawa, and even from distant Hull.

The importance of today’s date, for the graduating class, caused me to dig around a bit on days and years. And that is what I will be speaking to you about. But first of all, concerning today’s date: might I have your indulgence in pre-toasting a distinguished former Dean of Women of the University of King’s College, who is with us tonight. We are today, celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary.

I want to assure our fellow members of this community that we are much younger than we may appear to you tonight. It is, of course, due to space travel. That’s right. You’ve all seen those pictures where the clock on the space ship goes round and round while it hardly moves here on earth. That’s what’s happened, so we will be staying here for awhile until you all catch up. The unfortunate side of this is that we do love Alpha Centuri in June.

Ah, graduation 1998!

This is the year you graduates will move on from living in a fixed time and space to living in a place where everything needs to be fixed, and there is never enough time or storage space. It is an important date for you.

But there are many other important events associated with May 13.   Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame (born 1842, died 1900), celebrates his birthday today. Well, he doesn’t really celebrate it….

This is the day they have, in Baltimore Maryland, something called the Preakness Frog Hop.

Speaking of frogs. I called a classmate of mine, Michael J. Nichol and said: “Michael, I know you have a directory of quotes….give me one that I can share with the graduating class will you?”

“Sure”, he said, “If you see a frog on a pole, someone has put him there.” I can always count on Michael.

May is, in the USA at any rate, National Tavern Month. Please make sure you join in the celebration if you venture south.

And 1998!  Well the ’98 part comes with a lot of history of its own. If we go way back to 1098 we know that “The Western Isles” (whatever they were) were retaken by Magnus Bareleg the King of Norway. I don’t know from whom or why he wanted them but I’m sure someone in this room knows.

700 years later we note the year that John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) planted his first appleseed nursery………Annapolis Valley grads take note.

In 1898 I see the auto speed record was set at 63 KPH……..the same year that Amelia Earhart flew off into the wild blue yonder. (I hope at more than 63 KPH).

That year the Spanish-American War began, after the Steamship “Maine” was blown up in Havana Harbour. You have to give it to those Americans, you know with their Preakness Frog Hop and their National Tavern Month, they always seem to get their marketing right.

The battle cry after that ship went down was “Remember the Maine”. Imagine if the ship had been named the “Centipede”, or the “Aardvark.”   Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charging into battle, shouting ….”Remember the Aardvark”. Wouldn’t work, would it?

I went to J. Mark DeWolf, now on assignment in Singapore for some closing words –  he chose to speak on “youth” which he says “should be profitably employed by the young on those activities which are hardly possible without it: exploration of the world, the pursuit of noble causes, and, of course, inter-varsity basketball.”  A similarly useful quote comes from Chris Macneil, class of ’94 who tells me, over a beer at the Darcy Magee pub in Ottawa, “You can always tell a pioneer by the number of arrows in his back.”

These are valuable and forthright quotes from your predecessors, and I trust you will take these words to heart. They come from members of the very wide, and very long standing King’s community. They should be as useful to you as they were to me.

To you, the class of ‘98, I say how lucky for you.

Because in two years, you would have been the Class of Oh Oh!

Fellow Graduates and Members of the King’s Community. Will you rise, and toast, our dear alma mater….the University of King’s College.


Interested in managing without conflict – in your personal and professional life? Think that war is inevitable? Here’s my book on the way to peace.


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