During his long life, Arthur Speid was a fixture around Lennoxville and Bishop’s University, first as a day student at Bishop’s College School and, later, as part the theatre life of the University, as well as being a man of many varied interests. Looking back over a century, what was it like to be part of the University community? What did the “Town and Gown” relationship look like at that time? In 1966, Bishop’s University professors Dr. J.D. Jefferis, Arthur Motyer, and University Librarian Arnold Banfill, sat down with Arthur Speid to record his recollections of Bishop’s.
The resulting conversation, which is primarily between Arthur Speid and Dr. J.D. Jefferis, is a fascinating overview of their experiences surrounding what they call The College, in which they ‘spill the tea’ on people and events, and what it was like to be part of Bishop’s in the early 1900s.
As a rare day student at Bishop’s College School in the 1890s, Arthur Speid was exempt from the daily chapel obligations, which required that students attend chapel seven times/week, having the option to attend in the morning and/or afternoon each day. His day-student status also meant that he was not subjected to the questionable food provisions for boarding students, as he recalled that students would stage protests over food, parading into town to “serenade” the faculty members’ houses over their plight. To bridge the gap, one local resident – Mark Bennett – took advantage of his home’s convenient location right by the bridge on College Street by setting up a tuck shop and selling candy and ice cream to students.
The students used their right to protest on other occasions as well, including when Principal Rev. Canon H.H. Bedford-Jones resigned following faculty pressure but much to the disappointment of the students. To register their frustration, they staged a walk-out, marching into Lennoxville and causing a raucous outside of the houses of dissenting faculty members. In Arthur Speid’s retelling of the events, they even broke a few windows in their protest.
Discussions of the other principals and faculty members include descriptions such as “most peculiar” and “an odd stick”, which makes for very interesting listening! Despite the occasional disagreements between students and faculty, Speid and Jefferis were enthusiastic in their agreement that being part of the campus was like being part of a family where even the principal was a regular figure among the students. To round out the stories, Arthur Speid recalls some of the practical jokes students pulled, noting that students from his day really knew how to make a nuisance of themselves. If you’re interested in stepping back into Bishop’s University’s past with Arthur Speid, his interview is available to listen to online: https://www.townshipsarchives.ca/interview-with-arthur-speid