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The tradition of Homecoming, since 1927

September 10, 2015 — 

On Friday, Oct. 25, 1928, The Manitoban ran a short, easily-overlooked article that today tells much about our university’s history. In almost a matter-of-fact way it documents the history of our first homecoming.

You can view the newspaper page in its entirety here (the advertisements alone are worth checking out), but here is a picture of the critical two paragraphs.

newspaper clipping from the Manitoban, October 1928


So there it is. Begun when the University of Manitoba celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Semi-Centennial Celebration from October 6 to 8, 1927.  As UM Archives and Special Collections further inform us, The Alumni Association participated actively in the arrangements for the celebration by holding the first homecoming of graduates of the University. This did a lot for the Association—membership grew to 500 the following year, and today we have over 131,000 alumni in 131 countries.

But avid Bulletin readers with a sticky memory will recall that on September 26, 1947, the University Bulletin & Alumni Journal ran a front-page story with the headline, “Alumni to back first homecoming”.

As the article begins:

The University Alumni Association is sponsoring its first “Homecoming” for the Alumni on October 25th. This welcome innovation in the alumni calendar of events will provide an unparalleled opportunity for all graduates to renew old acquaintances and get up to date on their University and Alumni happenings.

So that was perhaps the true beginning of our modern homecoming. Incidentally, the first event of that day was a ($2.00) luncheon followed by a rugby match against Moorehead.

Our modern homecoming features many more events and earns a lot more ink, so scholars in the future will have much to look back on. And rugby has made way for Bison Football, and this year’s homecoming football game will see our Bisons take on the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday, Sept. 20, with a 2 p.m. kick-off. Go Bisons!


Further historical reading

By 1930, Homecoming events were establishing themselves as “annual” and the three-day program was referred to as “the big event” in The Manitoban. Faculty’s hosted individual dinners and barbecues, there was a golf tournament and even an annual interfaculty track tournament at Sargent Park.

In 1959  The Manitoban implies that some students forgot Homecoming existed and complained that the university did not have something it actually had. The paper concedes that previous Homecomings were “a quiet affair limited to hockey and basketball teams”, which may be true as this 1958 article talks mostly about the sporting events before giving a brief mention to a dance happening after the games. Thus, in 1959, the UMSU Social Committee tried to offer more than sports and asked students to vote on what musical artists they wanted UMSU to try to bring to campus. Sammy Davis Jr. was one possibility on the list.


The classical origins of homecoming (originally filmed in 2011)

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