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Burwash Hall is the second oldest of the residence buildings at Toronto's Victoria College. Construction began in 1911 and was completed in 1913. It was named after Nathanael Burwash, a former president of Victoria. The building is an extravagant Neo-Gothic work with turrets, gargoyles, and battlements. The architect was Henry Sproatt.
The building is divided between the large dining hall in the northwest and the student residence proper. The residence area is divided into two sections. The Upper Houses, built in 1913, consist of four houses: North House, Middle House, Gate House, and South House. The Lower Houses were built in 1931 and were originally intended to house theology students at Emmanuel College, whose current building was opened the same year. Ryerson House, Nelles House, Caven House, Bowles-Gandier House are now mostly home to undergraduate arts and science students. The latter two are mostly reserved for students in the new Vic One Programme.
Famous residents of Burwash include Vincent Massey, Lester B. Pearson, Don Harron, and Donald Sutherland. The upper houses were gutted and renovated in 1995. The lower houses have only been partially upgraded. Before the renovations the entire building was all male, but now every house is co-ed.
Each Upper House consists of three floors. The lower floor contains a common room equipped with kitchen facilities, couches and a television. The upper floors each have their own kitchen and dining area. All except North House have a very high bathroom ratio, with Gate House being the best with nine washrooms for its twenty-eight residents. Upper Houses are divided between double rooms and singles, with about sixty percent of the population being in doubles.
The Lower Houses each have four floors, but are much narrower with each level having only four rooms. Each level also has its own kitchen, but these are much smaller than in the Upper Houses. The Lower Houses do have far larger and better fitted common rooms that are similar to the ones the Upper Houses had before the renovations. The rooms in the Lower Houses are also considered more luxurious with hardwood floors and large sizes. Rooms in the Lower Houses are more expensive, however. Until 2003 the Lower Houses were restricted to upper year students but with the double cohort of graduates from Ontario schools many of the rooms were transformed into doubles and now hold first years.
To the west the Upper Houses look out on the Vic Quad and the main Victoria College building across it. West of the Lower Houses is the new Lester B. Pearson Garden of Peace and International Understanding and the E.J. Pratt Library beyond it. From the eastern side of the building, the Upper Houses look out at Rowell Jackman Hall and the Lower Houses see the St. Michael's College residence of Elmsley. The only exception is the view from Gate House's tower that looks down St. Mary's Street.
The dining hall is perhaps the best known part of the building to outsiders. It is the University of Toronto's largest, holding some 250 students and sixteen large tables. Hanging on the western wall is Queen Victoria's burial flag, given to the college soon after her death. Under the flag is the high table where the professors and college administration lunch. Historically, the Upper Houses each had their own table. Gate sat in the southwest corner, Middle sat in the far northeast, South sat in the table to the west of Middle, while North sat to the west of the southeast corner. The only lower house to have had a designated table was Caven, in the northwest corner beside the alumni table. (Note that prior to the 1995 renovations, some of these houses, particularly North and Caven, 'traditionally' sat elsewhere)
Gate House is one of the four Upper Houses of the Burwash Hall residence. Until 2007, when Victoria administration made it co-ed, Gate House was one of the last remaining all-male residence building in the University of Toronto. The Gate House emblem is the Phoenix, visible in the bottom-right corner of the Victoria College insignia.
Gate House, with the rest of Upper Burwash, opened in 1913 and has held students every year since then except 1995, when it was renovated. As an all-male residence from 1913 to 2007 it held a number of unique traditions. For 20 years Gate House hosted an annual party called Novemberfest in the Burwash dining hall. The Victoria Dean of Students cancelled Novemberfest in 2003, when police discovered widespread underage drinking and over 800 people in the dining hall, in violation of the fire code. Another Gate House tradition that no longer occurs is the "stirring the chicken," a dinner and keg party where house members cook chicken fajitas for hundreds of guests. Until 2007, Gate House held secretive first-year initiation ceremonies called Traditionals, which involved writing slogans on campus buildings in chalk, singing songs to the all-women's residence (who would then sing back to them), and leading first-years around the house blindfolded. Since Novemberfest, Gate House continued to have conflict with the Administration. In 2004 the Dean evicted three Gate House residents for allegedly "hog-tying" a first-year student. In 2007 President Paul W. Gooch wrote that Gate House undertook an "escalating series of actions" that were "defiant" and "disparaging of women", in response to Gate members constructing a 2.5-metre snow penis and placing a cooked pig's head in an Annesley bathroom. As punishment, during the fall exam period Gooch evicted two residents and relocated the remainder of Gate House to other places in the residence system, banned all current Gate House students from entering the building in 2008. Since this decision Gate House has become a co-ed residence identical to the other Upper Burwash houses. Notable residents of Gate House include Lester B. Pearson, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Simon Pulsifer, who Time magazine nicknamed "The Duke of Data" for his contributions to Wikipedia.
During its 93 years as a men's residence, Gate House developed a distinct character and reputation. These antics included pranks, toga parties, streaking, caroling to other residences, hazing rituals, "beer bashes" and "incessant pounding" on the Gate House table in the dining hall. Paul Gooch wrote that these traditions gave Gate House an "ethos" that contradicted his vision of residence life.
The all-male Gate House was known as a social centre and spirited, tight-knit community. According to Grayson Lee, who created the snow penis sculpture in 2007, most of its residents were "heartbroken" to leave. Former Gate House President Dave Ruhl commented that "the Gate House camaraderie is unique" and that living there was "one of the most important parts of the university experience" for many.
The Reuters news agency nicknamed Gate House "U of T's Animal House" because Donald Sutherland's memories of its parties are said to have influenced the script of the 1978 movie. The Toronto Star described Gooch's decision to put an end to its traditions, activities and distinguishing characteristics as "neutering Animal House."
Gate House has three floors which house 28 students, as well as a don and the Victoria College Residence Life Co-ordinator. Above the gate there is a tower that rises three stories higher and has a turret-style roof. The tower is locked during the school year and entering it is a Level 4 offense under the Victoria residence agreement for which the punishment is eviction from residence.
The first floor has one double room and one bathroom available to students. About half of the floor is taken up by the apartment of the Residence Life Coordinator. Lastly, on the first floor there is a house common room with a kitchen and two couches.[dead link] The second floor has three double rooms and seven single rooms. It has three single washrooms and one larger communal one, as well as its own kitchen. This floor is home to the residence don, who has a larger room with a private washroom. The third floor is identical to the second except that in place of the don's room there are two single rooms.[dead link]
Past Presidents of Gate House Include:
- 2011 Laura Crowe (First female president)
- 2010 Greg Racz
- 2009 Amreet Sidhu
- 2008 Travis Jeffery
- 2008 Alizain Hirji (Impeached by the Council of Residence Presidents at Vic in 2009)
- 2007 John Duncan Edwards
- 2007 Chris Hummel (Evicted on October 5 by the Dean of Students)
- 2006 David Ruhl
- 2005 Adam Thom
- 2004 Trevor Hill
- 2003 Jonathan "1080" Bedley
- 2002 Matt Stockburn
- 2001 Tafari Mbadiwe
- 2000 Burt James
- 1999 Jon Davies
- 1998 Mike Warner
- 1997 Lance "Beezer" Fukumoto
- 1996 Neil Cheddie
- 1995 None (closed for renovations)
- 1994 Aidan Cunniffe
- 1994 David Harkness (Evicted on September 1994 by the Dean of Students)
- 1993 Nick Gieschen
- 1992 Greg "El Presidente" Sarney
- 1991 Stephan Mostowy
- 1990 Darrel Cox
- 1989 Bruce "Bastard" Landon
- 1988 Terry Mark
- 1987 Eric "Yogi" Krause
- 1986 Scott Anderson
- 1985 Rob Sephton
- 1983–84 Vince Johnston
- 1982–83 Fred Jones
- 1981–82 Jamie Hunter
- 1981 Vijit Coomaraswamy
- 1980–81 Paul "Loaf" Gordon
- 1979–80 Jonathan "Bert" Wardlaw
- Taylor, Bill (2007-12-19). "Party's over at U of T residence". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- Houghton, Sarah (2003-03-12). "One Hundred Years of Architecture". The Strand. Archived from the original on 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Tsang, Sharon (2002-12-04). "'Student aspect' of Vic liquor license suspended". The Strand. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Salonen, Rachel (2002-01-22). "'Student pub taken out of students' hands". The Strand. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Bao, Jane (2007-01-07). "'Boy's club dismembered". The Varsity. Retrieved 2007-01-08.[dead link]
- Doukas, Alex (2004-03-17). "'Three students booted from res". The Strand. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Sibonney, Claire (2007-12-19). "University of Toronto's Animal House laid to rest". Reuters.
- Taylor, Bill (2007-12-19). "'Party's over at U of T residence". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- Grossman, Lev (16 December 2006). "Simon Pulsifer: The Duke of Data". Time. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- Richards, Jason (2004-09-18). "'Gate House Traditionals Exposed". The Strand. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Taylor, Bill (2007-12-19). "'Party's over at U of T residence.". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-12-19.