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Initial Years of the School
(1916 - 1937)



Crucial to the establishment of any new programmes would be the growth of the University in terms of students.  While there had been relatively substantial growth in total numbers, this growth tapered off due to the effects of World War I.  In an unsigned Report of the Faculties 1915-1916, addressed to the Chancellor and Senate, the effect of World War I on total student registration was dramatic:

1908    45
1909    82
1910    129
1911    185
1912    320
1913    434
1914    439
1915    418
[University of Alberta Archives, 68-9, 273, RG3]

However, by the 1916-1917 academic year, total student population had dropped to 305.
[UAA, 68-9, 422, RG3, Box 34]

The establishment of the School of Accountancy in 1916, therefore, did not occur at a particularly propitious time but, as noted above, some students had been registered in ‘Accountancy’ prior to 1916.  In the Annual Report, 1917-18, to the Senate, it was noted that enrolment in this subject was as follows:
        1914 – 13
        1915 – 15
        1916 – 15
        1917 – 0

The Report (probably prepared by the President) also noted
    “The ratio of students to instructors is 9:1 this year.  It may be pointed out, however, that these figures are not so valuable as they were some years ago owing to the fact that so many of our staff are engaged in war work and really little but a working nucleus remains.”
[UAA, 68-9, 272, RG3]

The impact of the war was far reaching - Walter Johns (President of the University, 1959-69) points out that the University rugby team beat the Edmonton Eskimos for the provincial championship in 1914; a year later, most of the players were at the front and within a year, the majority had been killed in action.  A total of 448 University participants (staff and students) had enlisted in various arms of the military -  including the flying corps and the navy and of these, 82 were killed in action.  World War I also changed the gender ‘mix’ of the student body.  For example, Miss Katie McCrimmon was elected as President of the Students’ Union for 1916-17, the first woman elected to the position.  The University initiated a series of “War Letters” which were included in The Gateway and sent to all those in the services.  Dr. Tory noted, “The graduating class of 1917 which entered the University in 1913, numbers only twelve, of whom seven are women, while fifty are with the colors.”  In April, 1918, Dr. Kerr, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, noted that the number of university students on active service exceeded the number of students on campus.
(Walter Johns, History of the University, pp. 49, 51, 57, 58)

As pointed out earlier, the role of Dr. Kerr cannot be glossed over.  While Dr. Tory deserves much credit for all his administrative and academic accomplishments, Dr. Kerr was, in essence, the President of the University when Dr. Tory’s duties took him away on numerous occasions and for varying lengths of time.  For all practical purposes, then, Dr. Kerr was de facto President.  In a letter (April 11, 1917) from Dr. Tory to Dr. Kerr -  apparently  the latter had finally taken a vacation since the letter was sent to Dr. Kerr in California - Dr. Tory points out some historical information with reference to legislation passed by the government.  The comments concerning the role of women will be left to the reader’s judgement.

“The session of the Legislature closed on Thursday and I confess I was glad to see it out of the way.  We had the usual grist of Legislative enactments, but as an indication that elections are upon us, there has been not one but three bills for the farmers; - one Mortgage Loan Bill; a Co-operative Associations Bill, permitting associations of thirty members to be created for mutual co-operation; what is known as the Cow Bill, a special bill by which the Government guarantees loans to farmers up to $500, where five men associate themselves for the purpose of buying stock.  In addition, in order to make sure that the women would get into line a Dower Bill was passed by which a woman’s right to a share of her husband’s property is finally established.  Biggar says we are rapidly drifting to a state of affairs where we will have , “Government of the women, for the women and by the women”.
“Finally, the Temperance Act has been amended so as to prevent more than one quart of whiskey, and two gallons of beer being on any one premises at any one time.  An unspeakably funny thing happened before this bill was passed.  A deputation of “hard drinkers” let by Bremner of Clover Bar, including Sidney Woods, Hardee, Frank Ford, and about twenty others waited on the Prime Minister to protest against this change.  Sidney Woods was the spokesman.  The main argument was that if a man had a pint left in his cellar he would not be able to get an additional quart without drinking up the pint and so that a man drank more than was good for him in order to comply with the law or get his friends to help drink it up.  One or two who were there say the thing was beyond words.  You doubtless know Bremner who is about six feet four.  He led the deputation being about twenty five yards ahead of the others, then little Sidney, Pardee and the group came up in the rear.  A moving picture of the scene would certainly be a valuable asset to leave to one’s children.  However, one thing was intentionally or otherwise overlooked and that is wine does not come under this particular prohibition.  I have been wondering whether your house would be liable to be searched for the balance of poor little Sonet’s “grande barrique”.
[University of Alberta Archives, 68-9, 10-2, RG3]   

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"My own impression is that we should look forward in the not distant future to some organization corresponding to a School of Commerce of which this might very well form a part. Commercial Departments in connection with Universities have so far not been successful in Canada, although I believe that after some years now the one at McGill is making some progress."

- Dr Tory, First President of the UofA
16 January 1919