Queen’s University,or simply Queen’s, is a coeducational, non-sectarian university located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on the edge of Lake Ontario. It is widely considered to be one of the finest academic institutions in Canada. Queen’s University was founded on October 16, 1841, 26 years before Canadian Confederation. Queen’s was the first Canadian university west of the maritime provinces to grant degrees, admit women, and form student government. It also hosted the country’s first session of Parliament.
Queen’s has made great efforts to become a more international institution; there are currently 94 countries represented in the student body. Beyond the Kingston campus, the university also has an International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England, formerly the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Today, Queen’s has approximately 13,500 full-time undergraduate students and 2,900 graduate students. Regarded as one of most prestigious and selective universities in Canada, there are annually over 25,000 applications received for the 3,400 undergraduate positions. Queen’s consistently places close to the top of college and university rankings and as a result, attracts top-tier students and faculty. The average entrance grade for 2004 was 89%, (second only to McGill with 89.3%).
Queen’s has traditionally drawn many of its students from private schools, though today the majority of undergraduates come from public schools across Canada and around the globe. Queen’s has 148 Canada Millennium Scholarship holders, more than any other Canadian university.
Queen’s today has 17 faculties and schools, listed below:
- The Faculty of Arts and Sciences which, in addition to offering a wide variety of social sciences, humanities, natural and physical sciences, languages, and fine arts, also hosts the following schools:
- The Queen’s School of Music
- The Queen’s School of Physical and Health Education
- The Queen’s School of Computing
- The Queen’s School of Environmental Studies
- The Queen’s School of English
- The Faculty of Applied Science
- The Faculty of Health Sciences which is divided into:
- The Queen’s School of Medicine
- The Queen’s School of Nursing
- The Queen’s School of Rehabilitation Therapy
- The Faculty of Law
- The Faculty of Education
Queen’s also features three schools that are, in effect, full faculties through their relative autonomy:
- Queen’s School of Business
- Queen’s School of Graduate Studies and Research, (includes the School of Policy Studies and the School of Urban and Regional Planning)
- Queen’s Theological College (affiliate)
The Queen’s physics department has one of the largest groups involved in the international Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Institute. Other institutions in the collaboration include the universities of Oxford and Pennsylvania. The Institute manages the world-famous SNO experiment, which demonstrated that the solution to the solar neutrino problem was that neutrinos change flavour (type) as they propagate through the Sun. While the actual experiment is located 2 km below the Earth’s surface in an active INCO mine in Northern Ontario, the Queen’s collaborators do much of their work in Queen’s Stirling Hall (a lab noted for its circular design and the large Foucault pendulum in its main atrium). Queen’s physicist and SNO director Art McDonald has won both the Herzberg Prize, Canada’s top science honour, and the American Physical Society’s Tom W. Bonner Prize for nuclear physics.
Each year, Queen’s University offers younger students a chance to visit, and participate in classes with other students from across Canada and The United States. There are 3 different programs, for different age levels. (Main article: Queen’s University Enrichment Studies)
Queen’s University was founded on October 16, 1841, under its first principal, Thomas Liddell, who arrived in Kingston from Scotland carrying the Royal Charter of Queen Victoria, establishing Queen’s College as an educational institution. Originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Canada in connection with the Church of Scotland (see the Presbyterian Church in Canada as it was called after 1875), it was established to instruct youth in various branches of sciences and literature.
The university became a secular institution in 1912 and, in that year, Principal Daniel Miner Gordon oversaw the drafting of a new university constitution. Queen’s Theological College remained in the control of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, until 1925, when it joined the United Church of Canada, where it remains today.
The first student government in Canada was established at Queen’s in 1858 in the form of the Dialectic Society, which is known today as the Alma Mater Society.
Queen’s celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary in 1991 and received a visit from Charles, Prince of Wales and his then-wife Diana to mark the occasion.
Queen’s Athletics Program is among the largest of its kind in Canada.  The university is represented in Canadian Interuniversity Sport by the Queen’s Golden Gaels.
Queen’s University has a rich ice hockey tradition. One popular theory for the creation of hockey concerns a game between Queen’s and the Royal Military College on the Kingston Harbour in 1886. Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax, however, have inception fables of their own. Queen’s also competed for the Stanley Cup in 1899 and 1906, and won the Allan Cup in 1909.
The Gaels are supported by the mascot, Boo Hoo the Bear, now a student in costume from the Queen’s Bands, but originally a real bear on a leash that was present at football games.
The Golden Gaels won the Grey Cup in Canadian football in 1922, 1923, and 1924.
The university anthem and fight song is “Queen’s College Colours,” but it is almost universally called the “Oil Thigh” after words in the Gaelic chorus. Students and alumni sing the song at football games and other events, usually performing it with a low-kicking can-can dance. The tune is the same as The Battle Hymn of the Republic. (Main article: Oil Thigh)
The “modern version” of the song is as follows:
The Oil Thigh
Oil thigh na Banrighinn a’Banrighinn gu brath!
Oil thigh na Banrighinn a’Banrighinn gu brath!
Oil thigh na Banrighinn a’Banrighinn gu brath!
Cha-Gheill! Cha-Gheill! Cha-Gheill! (pronounced Kay-Ya, Kay-Ya, Kay-ya)
Queen’s College colours we are wearing once again,
Soiled as they are by the battle and the rain,
Yet another victory to wipe away the stain,
So, Gaels go in and win!
Another popular song sung at sporting events is “Old Queen’s Sweater.”
Old Queen’s Sweater.
Put on your old Queen’s sweater, the dirtier the better
And we’ll all have another case of beer (MORE BEER)
‘Cause it’s not for the knowledge that we come to this College
but to raise hell all the year
Well they took away our whiskey and they took away our rye
And they took away our late leaves too (BOO HOO)
But we thank the Lord above us that we still have girls/guys who love us
And our old Queen’s sweater too!
The Queen’s Bands play a large role in promoting and maintaining school spirit at Queen’s. The Bands comprise four distinct units (hence the pluralization of “Bands”): a pipe band (which includes the bagpipes and a drum corps), a brass band (which includes woodwinds as well as brass instruments), Highland dancers, and cheerleaders. They are led by a drum major and colour guard. The Bands perform pre-game and half-time shows at all Golden Gaels football games, and lead the crowd in singing the “Oil Thigh” after the Gaels score. For home games, the Bands lead a parade of Queen’s football fans from the main campus to the football stadium at the West Campus. Once football season ends they are active in festive parades, most notably the Toronto Santa Claus Parade for Christmas, and later in the Montreal St. Patricks Day Parade. They are also active during Frosh Week, and have also performed internationally, for example in New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.
The Queen’s Bands celebrated their centennial in 2005.
Queen’s students served in both World War I and World War II. Approximately 1,500 students participated in the First World War and 189 died. Months before Canada joined the second world war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Queen’s to accept an honourary degree and, in a broadcast heard around the world, voiced the American policy of mutual alliance and friendship with Canada. Roosevelt stated, “The Dominion of Canada is part of the sisterhood of the British Empire. I give to you assurance that the people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other Empire.” Canada, during the Second World War, had the participation of 2,917 Queen’s graduates and the sacrifice of 157. The Victoria Cross was awarded to Major John Weir Foote, Arts ’33, Canadian Chaplain Service.
Today, numerous Queen’s students serve in Kingston’s naval reserve division, HMCS Cataraqui (which administers the University Naval Training Divisions program for reserve officers), and Kingston’s local milita regiment, The Princess of Wales’ Own.
Queen’s University has the second longest running radio station in the world, surpassed only by the Marconi companies. The first public broadcast of the station was on October 27th, 1923 as the football game between Queen’s and McGill was called play-by-play. CFRC operates to the present day and broadcasts at 101.9 MHz.
Queen’s students maintain a cordial rivalry with McGill University in Montreal. Animosity between rowing athletes at the two schools has inspired an annual boat race between the two universities in the spring of each year since 1997. McGill has dominated in the men’s and overall categories, while the Queen’s women’s boat has been defeated only once. Queen’s students call games between the schools’ football teams “Kill McGill” games. This academic and athletic rivalry, which was once very intense, has waned in recent years.
The two share a successful publishing house, McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Once first year students at Queen’s have moved into residence and become acquainted with some of the new people they meet, frosh week begins. First year students travel with a team of upper year students (called Gaels if in Arts and Science, FRECs if in Applied Science, Bosses if in Commerce, Capes in Nursing, Techs in Computing Science, Teaches in Con-Ed etc.) who take their “frosh groups” on excursions throughout the Queen’s campus and into the Kingston community. This experience helps students feel comfortable in their new home away from home and includes activities such as mud games, shaving cream wars, house parties, scavenger hunts, and more.
Smokers are social gatherings that occur at Queen’s and serve two purposes.
The first purpose is to raise money for an event, group, or charity. The money is raised through the collection of “cover” or admission at the door. One event that money is raised for is the fourth year “Science Formal”, one of the biggest events for a Queen’s Engineering student.
The second purpose is to give a group a venue to gather at. For example, First Year Engineering students will gather to celebrate at Clark Hall Pub after first semester exams for the “Jacket Smoker”. At the “Jacket Smoker” the students enjoy the satisfaction of finishing the exams and being allowed to wear their Engineering Jackets.
Smokers are often held at Queen’s Campus Pubs (e.g., Clark Hall Pub), but can be held at off-campus bars as well. When the Smokers are held on campus 100% of the cover (minus a fee) goes to the event, group, or charity. At off-campus bars only a percentage of the money raised will go to the event, group, or charity.
At Queen’s, the use of the term smoker can be traced at least as far back as the year 1900.
Every year Queen’s University hosts a Homecoming celebration for Alumni. While the main event of the Homecoming weekend is the football game on the Homecoming saturday, there are other festivities that take place as well. One of the more interesting traditions is the Pancake Kegger in homes in the Queen’s Student Ghetto. Usually hosted by students who have surplus Kegs of beer either from the past night’s celebrations, or for the coming night’s celebration. The students congregate to eat a hearty breakfast of pancakes and beer in preperation for the coming football game. After the football game, students then usually proceed to Aberdeen St. where the vast majority of Homecoming parties are held.
It is important to note that while these parties occur during the Homecoming weekend, that they are not actually part of the official Homecoming celebrations put on by the University. In October 2005, Queen’s Homecoming received national attention when students flipped a car on Aberdeen St and set fire to it. Beer bottles were thrown at police officers (and their horses) who were trying to control the crowd. (Main article: Queen’s University street parties)
In October 2004, Queen’s University announced a $230-million plan to create a sports and recreation complex called the “Queen’s Centre” over two city blocks. It is expected to take over ten years from design to completion.
The plans include the building of a six-lane track, an Olympic-sized arena, 25-metre pool, eight basketball courts, substantially more gathering and meeting space than is currently available, fitness, aerobic, locker and food space, and a new home for the School of Physical and Health Education.
The university has also unveiled a slogan for the centre, which is “Where mind, body and spirit come together”.
Though there was some controversy about the method to go about attaining funds for the Queen’s Centre, all parties agreed upon the need for the student funds – without them, there would be no Queen’s Centre to be had. The controversy stemmed around the method of attaining the funds, not the actual Queen’s Centre.