O'Keefe House

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O'Keefe House is the former mansion owned by Eugene O'Keefe, which serves as a residence for Ryerson University. The house holds 33 residents on three floors located at 137 Bond St. in Toronto, Canada.[1]

 The top dome of O'Keefe House in the fall.

History[edit]

The land at what is today 137 Bond Street was sold to a dry goods importer by the name of William Mathers on April 14, 1855. Along with the land, Mathers received the not yet completed, golden bricked house. The building would host its most prominent proprietor in 1879 when it was purchased by Eugene O’Keefe. He was attracted to the house at the corner of Bond and Gould because he could keep tabs on his neighbouring brewery and reside within a block of St. Michaels Cathedral. To accommodate his growing family, O'Keefe had the third floor added in 1889. O'Keefe lived at 137 Bond Street until his death on the night of September 30, 1913 in his second floor bedroom.[2]

The house eventually fell into the hands of Longman's Publishing and was converted from an adoring mansion to administrative space. The layout that can be found at today’s residence can trace its origin to these offices. The Canadian Congress of Labour, the United Mine Workers and the Canadian Railroad Employees all utilized the Bond Street house at one point or another.

On March 6, 1963, S.E. Lyons and Son Realty Limited sent a letter to Ryerson Principal Howard H. Kerr offering the premises at Bond and Gould for $85,000. Kerr struck a deal at $80,000, a stark contrast from its $6,000 value in 1880 or the $677,000 price-tag for a summer 2004 renovation. [3]

In time for the fall semester of 1964, Ryerson opened “The Bond Street Annex” along with other new residencies on Church Street and Oakham House, then known as Kerr Hall. Time saw the demolition of the Church Street residencies and Oakham House was shut down as a residence for lack of fire code compliance. From the late 1960s through to the construction of Pittman Hall in 1991, O’Keefe was Ryerson’s only official residence space.[4]

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of O'Keefe House as a Ryerson residence. To mark the celebration, a gala dinner/dance will be held at The Grand Hotel in downtown Toronto on October 5th 2013. All O'Keefe alumni are welcome. Alumni can purchase tickets here: http://okeefeanniversary.eventbrite.ca/

Notable O'Keefers[edit]

Ryerson grads Louis Gonsalves and Ted Brock were paired together as the first house supervisors. Mr. Gonsalves resided at Bond House with his wife Christine and house cat Heathcliff marking the beginning of a long and sometimes tumultuous relationship between residents and the animal kingdom.

Ted Brock[edit]

Brock made innumerable contributions to Bond and O’Keefe House as Senior Don. He always demonstrated his care and concern for his resident students as their mentor, tutor, advocate, and occasionally as their disciplinarian. Brock also encouraged students to join him as volunteer philanthropists to raise money to help others in our community, whether selling tickets for Ernie’s Bursary Hot Dog Days or by seeking sponsorships for the Ronald MacDonald Snow-Shovel team. He led successful campaigns to thwart plans to demolish the house in the early 1990s.

His legacy continues in the community stewardship, strong spirit and sense of identity held amongst Bond and O'Keefe House residents to this day.

Ted Brock Memorial Award[edit]

In 2004, the Ted Brock Memorial Award was established to honour Brock's contribution and dedication to Bond and O'Keefe House. Each year, this award recognizes an outstanding O'Keefe House resident at the year end formal who has made great contributions to the House during his or her time there. Originally named the Ted Brock Recognition Award to honour his retirement as Senior Don of O'Keefe House, the award was renamed the Ted Brock Memorial Award after his death in 2006.

Traditions[edit]

There have been innumerable traditions at O'Keefe since its inception as a residence in 1964, however there have been a few prominent traditions that have lasted for many years. The Wine & Cheese Semi Formal, Food Olympics, Fort Building, End of the Year Formal, Alumni v. Frosh Football, Tour Du O'Keefe, Volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House, The Fred Victor Centre Dinner and many traditions.

Legacy[edit]

O'Keefe is known for being a tight-knit community of residents upholding decades old traditions. Additionally participation in intramural athletics has been a prominent part of O'Keefe's heritage, winning the Ryerson Athletics Centre, Residence Challenge award 10 consecutive years in a row since its creation. The O'Keefe House Alumni Association continues to grow, with the primary objective to preserve O'Keefe's heritage and strengthen the ties between O'Keefe Alumni. In 2008 the Alumni Association celebrated the 45th O'Keefe House Anniversary and in fall 2013 will celebrate the 50th O'Keefe House Anniversary.

 O'Keefe House Logo.

Leadership[edit]

O'Keefe House is now run by Ryerson Student Housing Services. Typically there are two Dons (designated Residence Advisor and Academic Link) and 5 seniors who serve to run the house. The seniors are often first year residents selected to return to the house serving first as R.O.C. members (Ryerson Orientation Crew) and then continuing to assist with in-house events throughout the year. A Graduate Advisor (GA) also lives in the house, working to plan events in all of Ryerson's residences.

Chants[edit]

Got Your Barley[edit]

Got your barley,
Got your hops,
Got your yeasting salts,
O'Keefe House will eat your face,
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULTS.

She's a Happy House[edit]

O'Keefe she's a happy house,
O'Keefe she's as good as mouse,
O'Keefe why don't you come,
and spend some time at...
(Repeat, increasing in volume x3)
O
KEEFE
O
KEEFE
O
KEEFE
Who are we?
O'KEEFE HOUSE
And how did we sleep last night?
SPOONING TOGETHER

O'Keefe Gang[edit]

We are we are we are we are
We are the O'Keefe gang
We can we can we can we can
We can do anything
Play sports, drink beer, we have no fear, we're better than the rest
And we don't give a damn
For any old man
Who don't give a damn for us

Relevant Websites[edit]

http://www.okeefehouse.com/index.php
http://www.ryerson.ca/studentservices/housing/resaccommodations/okeefehouse/
http://www.ryersonstudenthousing.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/okeefebrewers
http://www.ryerson.ca/news/news/General_Public/20121130_okeefe.html

References[edit]