E is for Egerton Ryerson

In Frosh /

By Luc Rinaldi

You’re going to pass his statue on Gould Street about two thousand times over the next four years, so you might as well get to know him.

A Methodist minister, educator and politician, our school’s namesake is known today as the father of Ontario’s public school system. He revolutionized education by mandating libraries, creating a central textbook press and founding Ontario’s first teacher’s college at Victoria and Gould in 1850.

A hundred years later, long after his death, that land became home to the Ryerson Institute of Technology, named in his honour. The naming trend continued, and so, when the provincial government granted the institute full university status in 1993, it became Ryerson University.

But the school’s not the only thing named after Egerton.

Fifty years ago, a group of Ryerson students pooled together $25, bought a live ram and named him Eggy. Why? To boost school morale (see letter A). The school’s hockey team — named the Rams after Egerton’s zodiac sign — needed a mascot for an upcoming game. Eggy, decked out in blue and gold ribbons and banners, propelled the Rams to victory. So the little ram became a permanent fixture on campus.

The school went through five live rams — the dead rams would be sent off to a taxadermist who would remove the ram’s head, stuff it and mount it in the campus pub — before the Humane Society started pressuring universities to stop using live animals as mascots in the early ‘90s. The last live Eggy died in 1991. The Eggy we know now (a.k.a. costumed Eggy five) is the latest of Ryerson’s less cruel (and less odorous) mascots in honour of our late founder

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