Queen's University — Since 1873
18th October 2011

Clark Hall anniversary draws alumni

Bruce Martin, Sci ’96 (left), Kevin Black, Sci ’96 (centre), and Clark staff Sarah Burton, Sci ’13, celebrate at Clark on Saturday night.
Bruce Martin, Sci ’96 (left), Kevin Black, Sci ’96 (centre), and Clark staff Sarah Burton, Sci ’13, celebrate at Clark on Saturday night. (Justin Chin)

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For the past 30 years Jim McDownall has annually returned to Clark Hall Pub.

McDownall, Sci ’77, visited campus for the pub’s 40th anniversary celebrations last week. He said he noticed a marked difference in alumni presence on campus compared to previous years.

“There are fewer alumni here this weekend,” McDownall told the Journal on Saturday night. “I think it’s because there was no real date set, nobody could organize anything.”

McDownall said the Radisson Hotel, where he stayed with two former housemates, had fewer alumni than he expected.

Nevertheless he said he’ll return next year. “Clark is always on the list when we’re back in town; it’s where we collect. It’s like coming home,” McDownall said. “Back when we were at Queen’s we went at least twice a week. We all waited for a lab to finish and then we’d go over.”

In the past McDownall has gone to the annual Aberdeen Street party, but he said this year poor weather was a deterrent.

“Homecoming started out as house parties that spilled out into the streets. Back then the police would block off the street for us,” McDownall said. “Last year we were walking down the street and the students lining the sidewalk started to cheer for us, the police didn’t really like that. The students went a bit crazy.”

Posters and table talkers displayed in Clark Hall Pub advised students to stay away from Aberdeen Street last weekend.

At midnight on Saturday — a night many assumed would be Fauxcoming — there were 88 attendees at Clark. Erik Giles, the pub’s head manager, said Clark’s 40th anniversary was an opportunity to showcase the good times people have had at Clark.

“We are trying to stay open to keep people away from Aberdeen, although the real purpose of the event is obviously to give one last hurrah for Clark going into middle age,” Giles said.

Clark was founded in 1971, Giles said, an anniversary celebration for the Engineering Society-run pub was long overdue. He said the last anniversary celebration he knew of was the pub’s 25th.

Events began on Wednesday Oct. 12 with live-band bingo and continued until Oct. 15. with live bands and a Patio Ritual.

Patio Ritual, which ran from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, was at capacity for most of the day. The pub and patio have a combined capacity of 515 were open.

Giles estimated that about 1,000 people attended Ritual throughout the day with around 35 per cent of them being alumni.

He declined to disclose the revenue of the event.

“One of the big priorities of Clark is we are trying not to profit off the backs of students,” he said, adding that the alumni attendance usually increases sales.

Students from all faculties attended the week-long events to interact with alumni and share stories — which Giles said is an important part of the Clark experience.

“You have a lot of people sharing stories from when they were at Clark, and there are a lot of really interesting people that you get to meet,” Giles said. “There are people that have had the time of their lives here, and they get to come back and relate to students and students can relate to them.”

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