Things have changed a lot at Upper Canada College since Sir John Colborne first came up with the idea for the school and it opened its doors in 1829, but two things have remained hallmarks over its history: an atmosphere of generous giving; and talented alumni. Both of those were celebrated at the annual Founder’s Dinner in honour of Colborne hosted by UCC on Feb. 10.
Approximately 450 guests mixed and mingled in the Upper School student centre after arriving at 6 p.m., enjoying a well-stocked bar and tasty appetizers along with their conversations. They could get souvenir photos taken in front of a UCC backdrop and watch Grade 9 student Anthony Hua solve Rubik’s Cube puzzles in front of a portrait of former board of governors chair and 2014 John D. Stevenson Award recipient Andy Pringle ’69 that he created out of the cubes. Several fanfares from three student trumpeters eventually prodded folks to take the party downstairs for the main event in the Hewitt Athletic Centre.
There was no Prep boy singing “O Canada” this year, but Grade 3 student Tom Coxford did a fine job of saying grace after being introduced by dinner chairman and master of ceremonies Robert Elder ’82. Association Council president Jim Garner ’77 brought up John D. Stevenson ’47, who presented the award bearing his name to Pringle, who has served the College in a wide variety of roles over 33 years.
“Volunteering for a cause you love and that you know is important is in itself its own reward,” said Pringle in his acceptance speech. “It’s also, in the case of UCC, very much a team sport. I am really particularly fortunate to have worked with so many talented and dedicated people who’ve challenged me, pushed me and taught me so much.”
Pringle singled out former art teacher and board secretary Vern Mould, chief administrative officer Patty MacNicol, principals Dick Sadlier, Doug Blakey and Jim Power, several board members and unnamed others “who have helped transform the school that I left in 1969 to what it is today.”
Pringle continues to give his time to UCC as co-chair of the Think Ahead campaign, and urged everyone in attendance to do their part to push the amount raised from the current total of $82 million to the goal of $100 million to support scholarships and bursaries, state-of-the-art classrooms and labs, innovative programs overseen by talented faculty members, and a world-class boarding program.
Guests were then given time to enjoy a delicious dinner catered by Oliver & Bonacini Events (the president of which is Old Boy Andrew Oliver ’02) as the UCC Community Band — which wowed the crowd when it made its debut at Association Day last September — performed Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business.” It wrapped up its brief set with Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” sung by the evening’s keynote speaker, Leonard Dick ’82, which caught everyone by surprise.
Principal Jim Power offered remarks about how UCC encourages creativity and taking risks before Grade 12 student Hudson Southey-Gordon was invited on stage to officially introduce Dick. The head of the College’s film club was briefly interrupted by two of his peers, who comically carted boxes of scripts on stage in hope that the guest of honour would help give them their big break in Hollywood. Dick — an Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer who has worked on shows including Lost, House, The Mentalist and The Good Wife — joked that he’d put his name on the scripts and take credit for them if they sold.
Dick used slides to augment an entertaining presentation during which he talked about the relationship between business and creativity, what his job entails and how a TV episode is created. He concluded Founder’s Dinner by telling parents to let their children pursue creative opportunities and support their decisions to embark on careers in the arts.
Here are some photos from Founder’s Dinner: