Planning a Guelph road-trip? A little local lore to lean on
Who will be the first Ticat fans to paint Old Jeremiah in black and gold this season?
The cannon-turned-message board on the University of Guelph campus is just one of several things Hamilton Tiger-Cats supporters should know about their team's home turf before this season's "home opener" on Sunday.
Take that mythical beast lurking at midfield in Alumni Stadium. The half-lion, half-eagle sprawling across the newly renovated gridiron on campus is a logo of a gryphon, the varsity team's namesake. Beneath that logo is a sealed plastic capsule containing the hair of a lion, feathers of an eagle and a stuffed animal wearing a medallion with last year's burial date.
Those capsule items came from the Ontario Veterinary College. OVC is the oldest veterinary college in Canada and the United States, and one of the three founding colleges of the University of Guelph in 1964. Last year, the college celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Besides that new playing field, Alumni Stadium boasts a brand-new running track. The eight-lane, internationally certified oval is a nod to one of the country's most successful varsity running programs.
Guelph has the most cross-country banners of any school in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). Last fall, the women's squad won its eighth straight team title. The men's side took the championship banner for the seventh year running. For the second straight year, coach Dave Scott-Thomas was named men's and women's CIS coach of the year. Last summer, he went to the London Olympics with three Canadian marathoners. Two of the three have trained for years in Guelph, including Hamilton's Reid Coolsaet, a Guelph grad.
Another Hamilton connection was the late Lincoln Alexander, U of G's longest-serving chancellor. He conferred degrees on more than 20,000 graduates at convocation, taking time to speak to every one of them. In 2012, longtime arts patron David Mirvish was named as Guelph's eighth chancellor.
Back at the stadium, that new synthetic turf is made of plastic. But one research centre on campus is studying nonfood farm crops, as an alternative to petroleum-based sources, for products from car parts to building materials. Last fall, the bioproducts centre received $2 million in federal funding to widen its studies of renewable materials.
Environmental research also shows up in a biodiversity centre on campus. Scientists there have used DNA bar coding to show mislabelling of seafood in restaurants and to uncover trading in threatened and endangered species. The technology, developed by a Guelph biologist, is being used to identify every living creature on the planet (no word yet on efforts to ID a gryphon).
If you end up having fries at Sunday's game (or any thereafter), you might be eating Yukon Gold potatoes, initially developed at Guelph. Last year, Canadian food and culinary expert Anita Stewart became the university's food laureate, the first such post worldwide. Covering food research from field to table, U of G calls itself "Canada's food university." With researchers even studying how to grow food in space, maybe Guelph should call itself the universe's food university.
In other "out of this world" research, Guelph scientists have done tickle tests on shuttle astronauts' feet. A physics team is now leading investigations of Martian soil and rock by an instrument on the NASA rover that landed on the red planet in 2012.
Guelph students are top university donors to Canadian food banks. Every Halloween, teams of costumed students blitz city neighbourhoods for food bank donations in an annual Trick or Eat drive.
During orientation week last fall, about 2,000 university and community members packaged more than 315,000 emergency relief packages in an hour, setting a world record. The packages — containing rice, soy, beans, vegetables and vitamins — went to drought and poverty stricken Mauritania under the university's BetterPlanet campaign label.
That event took place on Johnston Green, the university's "front lawn." That's just one spot that you might explore while visiting the campus for a game. Another is the 400-acre arboretum, home to an urban organic farming plot and a honeybee research centre.
After the game — and under cover of dark — you might visit Old Jeremiah in Branion Plaza. The cannon was stopped up with cement after students last fired it in the wee hours one night in 1913. For decades, groups have used it as a campus message board. Tradition says you must paint it only at night.
Ticats, paint it raw. Or in black and gold.
Andrew Vowles lives in Hamilton and works at University of Guelph.[url=http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/3878022-when-you-cross-a-ticat-with-a-gryphon-/]http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/38 ... -gryphon-/[/url]
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