British High Commissioner to Canada Hosts Garden Party for British University Alumni

Report from our Canadian Hosts:

"On the 26th of June 2019 in the early evening of a day that had flip-flopped between bright sun and torrential rain, suddenly the clouds parted, the sun shone, and the Pimm’s flowed (Yes, that was an Oxford comma). Everything was perfect for a traditional English garden party in the beautiful grounds of Earnscliffe. There were many straw hats in evidence and even a few fascinators.

"Everyone involved agreed it was a great success. It was also an historic event in the annals of Canadian alumni affairs that attracted over two hundred alumni and guests, representing 27 British universities.

"This was the reincarnation of a lapsed tradition whereby the British High Commissioner would host a croquet tournament at Earnscliffe between alumni of Oxford and Cambridge - no flamingos required.

"The current British High Commissioner to Canada, Susan Jane le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, a graduate of the University of Bristol, felt that to remain relevant the event needed to be more inclusive and become a celebration of British higher education and not just its two oldest universities. She remarked that she was really proud of what the United Kingdom continues to offer in terms of higher education. Our universities are disproportionally over-represented among the top universities in the world. The people attending this event represent so many different walks of life. But what they all share are one or more wonderful years in the UK which have contributed to getting them to where they are today. She felt It was certainly crucial in her case.

"In conclusion, she raised a toast to the evening and to many more occasions like it.

"On behalf of all the British University alumni groups represented at the garden party, Jack Lindsey, DunelmOTTAWA President, thanked her Excellency for hosting this great event at her beautiful home. He also thanked the Oxford University Society in Ottawa for so effectively broadening of the scope of the event - in particular their Secretary, Harry Corrin, for all his efforts in seeking out Canadian alumni, with the enthusiastic support of DunelmOTTAWA.

Harrold Corrin, Secretary and David Sacks, President of the Oxford University Society in Ottawa

"In his remarks, David Sacks, President of the Oxford University Society in Ottawa, said this change from two to twenty-seven universities has been entirely salutary, bringing in youth, brains, vigour, looks, diverse backgrounds and the essential technical skills of the twenty first century – a valuable addition to a group of Oxonians and Cantabrians who are always in danger of becoming an old men’s club. It is wonderful to meet these young people who will be running Canada in the next ten or twenty years.

"He also drew a parallel between this Earnscliffe trend and the current British political situation. In the past seventy-five years, starting with Attlee, every British Prime Minister, both Labour and Tory, has been an Oxford graduate, save three – Gordon Brown who was at Edinburgh, and John Major and James Callahan who did not go to university. In his opinion it is obvious that this has not been good. Moreover, whichever candidate becomes the next Prime Minister, he will also be an Oxford graduate. David, an American, feels that this outdated relic of aristocratic tradition has blocked out and limited the available talent. He hopes that in a post-Brexit Britain we can all look forward to new rules, new talent, and new faces rising to the top of British political parties who will keep our beloved United Kingdom afloat.

"Earnscliffe is a Victorian manor in the Gothic Revival style, located at 140 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Built in 1855, it became the home of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, in 1883 and he lived there until his death in 1891. Since 1930 it has been the official residence of the British High Commissioner to Canada. Then in 1960 it was designated as Earnscliffe National Historic Site of Canada."

Melanie Nicholson, our Dunelm Days organizer, sporting a fetching fascinator
Jack’s Earnscliffe selfie

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