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Alumni event takes a look back with Harry the Historian

By Jason Herring, August 31 2018 —

Many students have heard University of Calgary fables about cars hanging from the red arch or a student climbing the Social Sciences building with squash balls, but an on-campus event during Alumni Weekend hopes to shed light on lesser-known myths.

UCalgary Folklore and Fakelore takes place at 1:45 p.m. in MacHall’s That Empty Space on Sept. 8 and features a presentation led by Harry Sanders. Also known as ‘Harry the Historian’ from his time as a regular guest on CBC Calgary’s The Homestretch, Sanders is a U of C history alumni who now works as a historical consultant.

“It’s just going to be oddball things from campus history — hijinks,” Sanders said. “A lot of the things people know but there’s some that they don’t.”

One example Sanders plans to present is about the Rock, a campus fixture that students are free to paint messages onto. Sanders recounts finding out about a prank engineering students played on the Rock when he was a U of C student in the mid-1980s.

“The engineers had encased the Rock in a concrete cube overnight,” he said. “A few friends and I somehow got sledgehammers or tools of some kind and took the first chips out of it. I feel like that’s the one moment where I played a part in campus history. ”

Other tales Sanders plans to tell include a construction error that restricted access to a floor of the Education Tower, a pie fight between the presidents of the U of C and the Students’ Union on a Bermuda Shorts Day and a pair of students who incited an angry mob after failing in their creation of computer course registrations in the mid-1960s.

“There’s some fun history that’s well outside of the things you normally hear with campus lore,” he said.

Admission to the event, as well as the entirety of Alumni Weekend, is free to current U of C students.

Disclosure: Gauntlet editor-in-chief Jason Herring, the author of this story, will be among speakers to join Sanders on-stage during the event.

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