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Queen's University

Homecoming to celebrate crest painting tradition with Class of '88

Alumni returning for Homecoming for their 25th reunion are invited to have a ‘brush’ with history, as the class of 1988 will do crest painting alongside members of the class of 2017.

Comm'93 students pait their crest on the sidewalk in this file photo

“It’s a chance for alumni to repaint their old crests and connect with students as they both enjoy a popular Queen’s tradition,” says Kathryn Vilela, a Queen’s University Alumni Officer who helps organize reunions.

Crests can be found on sidewalks all over campus – including the sidewalks outside the Clark Hall Pub, Goodes Hall (School of Business) and Sir John A Macdonald Hall (Faculty of Law). Each crest is unique to each faculty and year so it becomes a symbol of a student’s class pride and tricolour spirit.

“The crests are a definition of your year. The crest was a part of our development at Queen’s because we didn’t have one entering orientation week,” says Alex Wilson, Sc’14 and Queen’s Student Alumni Association president who is helping organize the 25th Reunion Crest Painting event on October 5. “The crest becomes synonymous with your class. It is what gets added to your jackets – which for a lot of faculties is the biggest symbol of pride that you can wear.”

One of Alex’s fondest memories during his first year was going out on a cold evening in late October with about 15 classmates and spending several hours painting their crest.

“It was a bonding experience for us and we took a lot of pride in it. It was important for us to do it justice. The crest was for us and it was for our entire year,” says Alex.

Law students cover their crest with money for a cancer fundraiser

Crest painting at Queen’s has evolved since the Class of 1988 took their paintbrushes to the sidewalks of Queen’s.

The tradition started informally in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today it’s a formal process. The Alma Mater Society and Queen’s Physical Plant Services regulate the painting of crests. Faculties have to submit applications and are required to sandblast the previous year’s crest. Anti-skid grit has to be used so people won’t slip when walking on the crests.

The exact process of how a crest is chosen varies by faculty, but generally first-year students submit designs and a winner is picked by fellow first-year students.

Kathryn has been talking to alumni and many are excited about reliving an old tradition during Homecoming weekend. 

“Some of the alumni I’ve spoken to think it might be one of the highlights of the Homecoming weekend. They are quite keen on it,” says Kathryn.   

Some of the Homecoming Class of ’88 groups expected to take part include Arts & Science, Commerce, Kinesiology, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Rehab and Engineering.

Crest painting is one of many events scheduled to take place during the two Homecoming weekends of October 4-6 and October 18-20.


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