UBC unearths time capsule to mark 100 years since 'great trek' student protest
Items pulled from capsule marked anniversary of protest that pushed for campus at Point Grey
Newspapers, menus and postcards were among items pulled from a time capsule buried on the University of British Columbia's campus 50 years ago to mark the anniversary of a student protest, which helped usher in the school as it's known today on its Point Grey campus.
Five students were drawn at random to open the time capsule, which was buried in 1972 to mark 50 years since students at the school marched to demand provincial funding to finish building the campus.
The ceremony on Friday included present-day and historical student society leaders, local politicians and even former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell, a former student at the school.
"I'm a little terrified about what might be in the time capsule," said Gordon Blankstein, who was a student executive at UBC's Alma Mater Society (AMS) in 1972 when the capsule was buried.
"I hope there's nothing offensive to anybody because it was definitely different times."
Most of the items were made of paper such as a Province newspaper, school records detailing the number of students enrolled in the school, a menu from the ceremony when the 1972 capsule was buried and an engineering student newspaper, which featured some off-colour content.
Blankstein was among several dignitaries to speak at Friday's event, which also looked back to the 1922 protest that ushered in the change needed to create the school as it's known today.
"I can remember the trekkers from 1922. Many of them were First World War veterans that came and wanted an education," he said.
On Oct. 28, 1922, more than 1,000 students marched through Vancouver to Point Grey, a distance of about eight kilometres, to the mostly barren location where efforts to finalize and build a proper campus for the school had stalled during and following the First World War.
The University of British Columbia opened on Sept. 30, 1915, occupying facilities in the Fairview area of Vancouver, what is now Vancouver General Hospital.
The school soon outgrew its modest beginnings, as students overcrowded lecture halls and laboratory facilities. This soon led to students organizing a petition calling for the province to put up funding for the new campus.
Historical documents and newspaper accounts from the time said that around 56,000 signatures were delivered to the legislature in Victoria, while the protest march, later named the "great trek," helped to secure $1.5 million from the province to move forward with the Point Grey campus.
"It represents the first big win for students who really cared on this campus," said current UBC AMS President Eshana Bhangu.
The ceremony on Friday also put a new time capsule in the ground to be opened in October 2072.
Items included an "Every Child Matters" orange t-shirt with the text written in the Musqueam language, a medal commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the great trek, a lab coat, a COVID-19 test, KN95 face mask, an iPhone and hundreds of letters students wrote to be read 50 years from now.
Bhangu said the project has helped create a sense of togetherness on campus and a link to the past.
"We're very happy to see the participation and celebration of this kind of an effort because while the fight may not be to build a new campus these days, there are a lot of issues that students have to advocate for."
With files from CBC's Early Edition and Maggie MacPherson