Do Not Open Until September 2046!

How are memories stored most effectively? Staff and faculty of Lakehead University - Orillia Campus gathered on Monday December 11 to officially close a box filled with memories of our opening days in September 2006. Sealed with cellophane tape and tied with a large purple ribbon, the box will be placed in a vault at the Bank of Montreal.

A notice on the front of the box reads as follows:

Memory box treasures in honour of the campus opening September 6 2006 to be opened 40 years later on September 6, 2046

Forty years was chosen as a suitable marker of achievement, especially since the main campus of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay just celebrated its fortieth anniversary in September 2005 and this is considered a time of "maturity" for a university campus.

Before sealing the box, Dr. Sally-Ann Burnett, Director of Operations at the Orillia Campus, gave a brief speech, noting that "The sealing of this box is a rare and defining moment in the history of Lakehead University and the box captures some of our treasures from this inaugural term." She then proceeded to show all of the items as she placed them one by one inside.

The first thing that will be seen by those opening the box in 2046 will be a letter from Dr. Burnett to "Colleagues in the future." In this letter, Burnett hints that the box symbolizes more than its contents can contain. "We have probably not captured the energy, excitement, spirit and enthusiasm of our staff and students that has been so abundant in our early days." Nevertheless, a portion of that excitement is inevitably present in the photos, newspaper clippings and other souvenirs from September 2006. As the letter concludes, "Our journey is just beginning and we celebrate the future and you."

Below the letter is the 8'' x 10'' photograph of the charter class and founding staff that has been distributed to everyone on the photo. A large copy of the photo, surrounded by the signatures of the charter class, currently hangs on the wall in the reception area.

More photos and TV footage, can be found on three DVDs of the Grand Opening on September 8, one provided by the building owner, one by the professional photographer hired for the occasion, and one by A Channel News, featuring several Charter students. Although several people expressed concern that technology in 40 years may be unable to read the DVDs, optimists feel that access to the material will still be possible by visiting a museum!.

Other items include a folder with orientation materials given to students, a sample lanyard worn by students, the design for blue and gold T-shirts given to and worn by students on September 8, a Grand Opening invitation and agenda, Dr. Burnett's Grand Opening speech, and various media releases with respect to the Grand Opening. The entire Packet and Times newspaper for Saturday September 9, 2006 is included, since it features the Grand Opening on the first page and since it will show individuals in 2046 what life was like in Orillia in 2006. Even the enclosed fliers are included, since they will indicate the cost of items today.

A few additional items are included relating to the first few months in Orillia, such as a Meet the Professors Lecture Series pamphlet, a poster inviting people to the inaugural baseball game between Lakehead and Georgian College, hockey tickets for the game between Lakehead and Ryerson, and a Christmas card that will be sent from the campus.

Although few staff and faculty members witnessing the closure of the memory box expect to be on campus in forty years, there is hope that some charter class students may be in the vicinity and will participate in the opening of the box. In any case, as Dr. Burnett noted in her concluding statements, "We mark for future generations an unwavering belief in what Lakehead University - Orillia Campus will become from our modest beginning this year, with 120 students and 19 staff. The sealing of this box captures the spirit of the much larger act of opening a brand new university Campus [and] reaffirms our commitment to each other and to future generations."

Founding staff concluded the ceremony with a Champagne toast to the future of the Campus.