The more things stay the same

Thursday, 11 August 2005 — 10:41pm | Debate, Journalism

As a leisurely passe-temps I pore over the search queries that lead the weary journeyman to this homepage, nay, cabinpage of mine in the digital woodlands that shroud the alleged superhighway. I follow them as a ranger would track the dungheaps of a bear that had made off with some unhappy camper’s trail mix of dried apricots and extended metaphors. The webmaster is a territorial specimen, master of his subdomain.

The polluted realms of the Internet, dumped on what was virgin soil not a decade ago, bear witness to little history; so it is not often that the hunter stumbles on the relics of the ancients. Yet today’s sojourn saw better fortune, for I discovered one such relic. Come, children, and let us share this great treasure of antiquity by the afterglow of the starlit bonfire. Tillikum, how-how.

I bring forth, from the online archives of the University of British Columbia Library, a PDF scan of an issue of the student newspaper The Ubyssey dated 17 January, 1936. This may be the classiest thing you see today, and a lot of the readers who regularly traverse this place will know why from the top story, “U.B.C. and Manitoba Meet In McGoun Debate Today.”

“The number of cars on your campus gives us an impression of latent wealth. We think it would be a great place for Aberhart,” stated William Palk, visiting debater from Manitoba who, along with Cecil Sheps will meet Peter Disney and Dorwin Baird today in the McGoun Cup debate.

Mr. Sheps also wished to know whether U.B.C. stood for “University of Beautiful Coeds.”

The debate, admission to which was a whopping ten cents, was on the resolution “That Canada’s Foreign Policy should be one of Isolation,” with “isolation” agreed upon beforehand as withdrawal from the British Empire and the League of Nations. Read on, you crazy diamond.

But wait! There’s more! And astonished as I am already to see a second-page report on fiercely competitive auditions for a student production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”, turn to page 3 for this very model of a modern major headline:

Alberta News – Dance Interferes With McGoun Debate – Dates Clash

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Jan. 14 – “It appears that all the king’s horses, not to mention his men, will not be able to get the debating and Engineering societies together on the matter of which should have the sole rights to the evening of Jan. 17 for the Inter-Varsity debates and the “Undergrad” respectively. Last year’s Council argued for 1 hour and 17 minutes last Wednesday evening before peace was restored by appointing a committee with full power to look into the matter.”

It’s not quite Function Room ’36, but I see our student legislators were once as efficient as ever.

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