|The UCC Association announced the creation of a new volunteer award recognition program in 1980, the Harold D. Roberts Circle. This complemented the John D. Stevenson Award Program and expanded the
College’s ability to recognize outstanding contributions to its community. Consideration is given to such factors as the diversity of roles undertaken and the length of service.
Harold “Mr. UCC” Roberts was associated with UCC for more than 65 years. His roles included student, Old Boy, parent, secretary of the Association, governor, director of the Foundation and all-round ambassador of goodwill.
He attended UCC from 1909 to 1915. After graduation, he worked briefly for the Bank of Nova Scotia, then enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps as an aerial gunnery instructor during the First World War. He also served on the War Chest Committee, which originally sent parcels overseas. The objective was changed, however, and a family fund was created for the education of the sons of Old Boys killed in combat.
After the war Roberts pursed a 30-year career in the insurance business, first in the Toronto office of the Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company and then becoming manager. He became secretary of the Old Boys’ Association in 1926 and held the position until 1948.
He gained fame during the stock market crash of 1929 for his job-finding abilities, managing to place over 2,000 boys. (An article in a 1941 edition of Saturday Night recounts: “Another young man, unemployed at the time, was called from the hospital where his wife was going to have a baby. He was able to return to her in time to report, before the baby arrived, that he had landed a job at $3,000 a year! And no one was happier than Mr. Roberts when he found work for a man of fifty-nine on Christmas Eve.”)
Roberts served on the Board of Governors from 1933 to 1951. He resigned as manager of an insurance company and took over the full-time position of director of the newly formed UCC Foundation in 1950 until 1966, preferring the College atmosphere to the pressure of the business world.
Roberts was assistant director of the emergency building fund in 1958 to replace College buildings, phoning worldwide to prominent Old Boys to rally support during one of the College’s darkest hours. He also inspired the Quarter Century Club, founded in 1942.
Perhaps the best illustration of the College’s admiration was expressed at a dinner in 1980. In the presence of H.R.H. Prince Philip, thousands of old boys and friends of the College rose to their feet in a standing ovation to demonstrate their admiration for Harold Roberts.
He died on February 18, 1982,
Edited from articles by Robert Bell and Charles Powis in College Times