By Will Baldwin
You probably know Ryerson’s beloved mascot, Eggy, as the human in a costume who dances around campus with the goal of making people smile in the name of Ryerson. But Eggy hasn’t always been like this: he used to be smaller, a little smellier and a whole lot more life-like than the Eggy we know today.
In fact, back in the good old days of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, Eggy was as traditional a school mascot of a Ram could be.
How did Eggy end up with the current muscular look he has today? Check out this timeline to find out.
Let’s start with the basics: how the heck did a school in the middle of Canada’s largest city land on ‘Rams’ as its mascot when it’s quite literally nowhere near where any rams actually live?
According to the Ryerson Library, the best-known guess as to how that happened is the school’s infamous namesake, Egerton Ryerson, was born on March 24, 1803 during Aries season. Thus, his zodiac was the ram.
The other most common theory according to a previous article by The Eyeopener from 2007 credits the school’s Coat of Arms which features a ram. According to the university’s website, the ram “is the symbol of the creative impulse through which the potential becomes the actual.”
In 1961, this symbol of the school motivated the Student Administrative Council (SAC) to match other rival schools in Ontario by creating their own mascot.
In the midst of another tenacious Ryerson hockey season, students were tired of the edge other schools had over them. They needed a unifying force to join the school together with a common goal of victory.
So, four members of the SAC headed to the Toronto Stockyards (a slaughterhouse) with hopes of boosting school morale. The students would acquire a ram for a reported $25 according to the university’s archives.
The ram was subsequently decorated with school pendants and ribbons and brought to the hockey team’s game against their rival, the University of Waterloo. In order to maximize school spirit, the ram was named Egerton Ryerson officially and later nicknamed Eggy.
Ryerson would win the game and from there, the legend of Eggy the Ram, the official good luck charm of Ryerson, was born.
During the school year, Eggy I actually lived on campus in a shelter behind today’s Oakham House. His summers were spent on a farm outside the city.
Eggy quickly became the morale booster the SAC hoped for, leading parades, attending sporting events and being present for Ryerson’s convocations. Sadly, Eggy I would only last a year before passing away from cancer.
The university decided to honour Eggy by having him sent to a taxidermist. There, his head was mounted on a plaque. The school then started a tradition that would last for decades—they hung the plaque in the basement of Oakham House.
Due to the original Eggy’s massive popularity, the school quickly purchased a new ram to replace him upon his death. According to a Ryerson Folio article, Eggy I was “never considered a prize animal” so the university decided to invest more money ($35) into his replacement for a more “blue-blooded” ram.
Ryerson’s second mascot lived an eventful life. The University of Toronto had an annual tradition of kidnapping him. Waterloo would also join in on occasion.
Eggy II would also live on campus behind Oakham House until the mid-60’s when the city changed its laws regarding farm animals living downtown. For the remainder of his life, Eggy II would live on a farm and be transported to all of Ryerson’s biggest events by his handler.
Sadly, in 1969, Eggy II drowned during a flood at the farm he called home. Just like his predecessor, his head was mounted and hung in Oakham House.
Purchased in 1969, Eggy III had a personality that was quite different from those before him. He was known for being very aggressive and had a penchant for charging things around him.
This less charismatic personality impacted Eggy’s popularity on campus. Part of this was due to the fact he had to be sedated to be transferred to campus and be around students.
According to the Ryerson Folio article, on archival documents Eggy III was listed as “not to be trusted.”
The most ornery member of the Eggy’s would die in 1981, four years after his official retirement from the school, defending his flock of ewes against a wolf attack.
Following Eggy III, Eggy support was at an all-time low. The school was one of the few left with a live mascot and after the most recent Eggy’s missteps, many didn’t support a fourth Eggy.
Quickly though, students protested the lack of ram so the school relented and allowed a social work student named Karen Dow to designate one of her family’s rams as Eggy IV.
Eggy IV quickly became one of the most popular Eggy’s of all time. He was much more photogenic than Eggy III and even appeared in a Labatt’s print beer advertisement. Maybe his most iconic moment came when he first arrived on campus in a limousine to a crowd of journalism students with television cameras.
The fourth Eggy would last until 1987 when he died of natural causes reportedly related to lifelong heart issues. His death came right before orientation and according to the Ryersonian, left “a black cloud over the first week of school.”
The Dow family would offer another Ram to replace the beloved fourth Eggy. Eggy V’s most notable moment was when he was made an honorary member of the Ryerson Athletics Centre (RAC) upon his first visit to campus.
Eggy V passed away in 1991 and joined his predecessors with his head mounted on a plaque.
Following the death of Eggy V, there was actually a plan to replace him. However, due to pressure from the Humane Society on universities with live animals for mascots, the practice of a live Eggy was stopped officially in 1991.
In the years since his death, there have been a few pushes from students to resurrect the live Eggy legacy. As of now though, none have been substantive enough to prompt a rebirth of the tradition.
Currently, the heads of Eggy rest in the university’s archives, located in Ryerson’s Library, but that wasn’t always the case.
Originally, they all resided in a now-closed campus pub called The Edge. This lasted until the mid-90’s when two students stole Eggy IV and V’s heads. Ryerson Folio reported that the heads were found following a search of Pitman Hall.
Following the incident, two of the heads were sent to archives and three to the Oakham House game room.
Soon after, there was a push to re-unite the Eggy’s. There was a running claim the school had become cursed since the heads were no longer together. Due to this pressure and concerns over student’s being offended by the mounted heads, they were all reunited in the school’s archives.
The only head easily available to see for scholars at the archives is the celebrity of the group, Eggy IV.
In the 1980’s, the school actually had both a live and costumed Eggy. Since the original costumed Eggy, most known for his triangular nose, there have been five costumed Eggy’s.
This brings the total number of Eggy’s to 11 with five being live Rams and six being the more familiar costumed version we see today.
The most recent iteration of Eggy’s look came in 2011. Today’s Eggy is best known for being the most muscular member of the group.
Though the original idea of Eggy the mascot came about in 1961, his ability to unite students remains today. The athletic department prides itself on Eggy and what he represents for both the school and its students.
“With an emphasis on Performance, Personality, and Professionalism, Eggy the Ram exemplifies the true Ryerson spirit, reflecting the heart and passion of the student body and faculty through a commitment to optimism, sportsmanship, and the pursuit of excellence through entertainment,” according to Eggy’s feature on the Ryerson Rams website.
From 1961 to today, Egerton the Ram has been a symbol of the Ryerson experience. With the school unveiling a taskforce to look at Egerton Ryerson’s relationship with the school, it begs the question—will there be an Eggy XII?