Sunday, May 1, 2022


Supposed friends used to say when an old fart like me retired that he or she was worn out. The reality is that in most cases we don't want to stand the BS a second longer.
It has always been the case that the good old days often weren't. They were "good" only in your nostalgia which has been edited by more holes in your memory than cheesecloth so that you have forgotten the crap of daily hassles.
But now the nonsense has multiplied to ruin what we hoped would be more sensible public life.
There are new hurdles the height of the mountains I once climbed in the Yukon all fed by an explosion of populism infected with tribalism and politically correct views where facts and logic don't mean a damn thing. The crazies have shot machine guns at history.
So even when they  talk about the past without endless apologies, they don't mention what really happened because it doesn't suit the latest pandering to the latest clutch-and-grab of activists.
And so we trash the past and slander its leaders because a few mouthy jerks want to justify their income and existence and public rep rather than actually work for a living.
Ryerson University is being renamed because some educrats who know little about the history of influential Egerton Ryerson and the school's great six decades have been intimidated and seduced by a supposedly large movement which knows nothing about the man and the school. 
I do! And I know the man and the school were great. The hell with those who disagree, and say Egerton Ryerson was the architect of the awful Indian residential schools that crushed indigenous kids after it ripped them away from their parents.
I will spare you a recitation of all my proof that I know more about the man and the university than the name-changers but just check my biography on I will also refer you to my three blogs over recent years about the phony name crisis and the grand circus when the university was born out of post-war chaos.
But Ryerson did hire me to write the book about its early history. I did help write its first history plaques after I was student president and student newspaper editor. I did serve on several task forces, the board of governors, search committees, (my nominee, Walter Pitman, became president) advisory committees and I did teach there. I did turn down a request to head a course.
So I do know what I am talking about more than the current excuses of leaders. And when I argue the renaming was stupid, I am hardly alone. The National Post had an article April 28 by a Ryerson prof, Patrice Dutil, which began: "The renaming ... was driven by a systematic process of shaming Canadian history by outright distortions and gross misunderstandings."
The Post also had an April 6, 2021, article by Dutil and Ryerson prof Ron Stagg that outlined the wonderful background of Egerton Ryerson as one of the most significant fathers of education in Ontario and Canada. I blogged about it the next day titled Only The Ignorant Would Rename Ryerson.
It's just incredible there was not more of an uproar when Ryerson's statue, one of the most famous in the city, was destroyed. Paid for by public subscription including pupils throughout Canada and even the eastern U.S. because he brought free education to all elementary and high schools, as well as starting a museum, art gallery, art school, publishing house, and teacher's college which still exist in grander form. Strange if not shocking that I never heard any of the leaders at ROM and Victoria College and the many other offsprings of his countless endeavours defend the reputation of this giant being slaughtered by intellectual pygmies.
But then too many of our leaders are gutless when it comes to reasoning with those who say ALL our past is rooted in racism and hatred of minorities and there is nothing to do but apologize endlessly even when the indigenous claim is for land that was under water before the awful white men dumped fill. The claim has been made for areas where there was never an indigenous population according to various university studies. 
And so we trash a man who did so much for his country that he should be a national treasure.  But heck, he was one of those damn preachers who believed it was his duty to preach Christianity and serve others and actually live with the "natives" and teach them about farming and have one as his best friend. He even started agricultural experiments to test the climate.
The militant indigenous demands for more rights and money would be blessed if Egerton Ryerson were still alive because he would be a great leader for all their legitimate causes and have enough sense to caution them against their more ridiculous demands. 
A friend is writing a book about the Ryerson debacle who is an expert in indigenous history. This means he is starting from a deep hole because he knows what he is talking about and the point I have been making is that facts no longer seem to matter, especially when it comes to kowtowing on indigenous mythology. But it really doesn't matter what he knows or says because it will be ridiculed because it doesn't help whatever cause the ignorant have dreamed up to milk us. The cause is more important than any fact.
This published author told me in an email:"It's kinda scary that the professors who teach at Ryerson know so precious little about Ryerson and the true history of the Indian residential schools."
I will spare you the bile from all my fellow grads who wish that Ryerson would concentrate on just teaching instead of running around frantically trying to be in front of every trendy issue.
The response to my blog last Dec. 10 titled The Scalping of Ryerson's Past reassured me wrongly then  that the administration  wouldn't be nuts enough to go ahead with renaming once the impact sunk in of all those who thought it a bizarre idea.
Once again I turned out to be as as wrong as I was when I thought as a veteran columnist and editor who had twice rejected offers from two parties to run for them that the public would finally see through Trudeau The Lesser as he excuses his gropings and muggings and continual conflicts of interest. You would have thought they would have been warned by the shenanigans of his dad, Pete The Diffident, and his mother Margaret, who was the strangest wife of a PM that this country will ever have.
I had thought in recent years it was finally going well at what used to be slurred as Rye High, as I wrote on Sept. 21, 2019 in a blog titled Happy Birthday Ryerson University.
Ah, those were the days my friend, back when few knew much about Ryerson Institute of Technology and the grand accomplishments of Egerton Ryerson were buried in history, not hateful lies.
Our class was tiny but grads became editors and professors and columnists and publishers and even university publicists. We huddled in a glorified closet to gossip and gripe over lunch. And we made up a song and sang it in the annual student revue called RIOT (after the school initials.)
Ryerson all hail to thee
You're preferred to Ryerson
Other schools are tiresome
Cause they charge a higher sum
You are best cause you charge less
Hail to thee O Ryerson.
It did charge less, and it was also better than my time at U of T.  However, now they have sawed off the horn of the unicorn, a useful title for my book that I stole from an early Ryerson pioneer before delusions warped education at 50 Gould.
 I will never forget that ditty or my school buddies or those early years in the 1950s.
 I will never not think that Egerton Ryerson was a Goliath of education. But his name has been trashed now even though the final stage of the name change, the Legislature, a confused and reluctant parent, still has to approve it.
That probably will happen but I know as the Canadian National Exhibition president who applied for a new act to cover changes at the big fair only to have the Legislature pass the wrong language that anything can happen when MPPs get involved. 
It would be only fitting if they screwed it up. After all, everyone else has as they ignore all the facts.


Unknown said...

John, a voice of sanity in a world gone mad! These idiots that pushed for Ryerson name change really just lost a great opportunity to educate people on their issues. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Star urging that the name should be retained and every "history" of the school or man could contain a list of his accomplishments but also of his involvement in (socially acceptable at the time!) residential schools. A great opportunity to educate people on how, why and when our culture has evolved and changed. Another sad case of the tail wagging the dog.

John said...

My grandfather Eric Palin was a founder of Ryerson -Palin hall is named after him. He and Mr. Kerr have probably left their respective graves in protest. They had previously been spinning in those aforementioned graves when the technical institute became a university - at thee behest of the Eatons who refused to donate their 10 Million unless it became a university and the staff who were jubilant at the prospect of the enhanced "reputation". Thank you Mr. Downing for at least raging at the gross inanity infesting our public realms.

KellyP said...

This is outrageous! I appreciate your sentiments.

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Horea said...

Commending your bravery for having the courage to post this online! It's impressive. Many thanks! :)

Unknown said...

They argue that Ryerson was a great man who made significant contributions to education and that the decision to rename the university was driven by a desire to shame Canadian history and ignore the facts.

KellyP said...

It's nice to take his thoughts on this matter.

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