Student Culture at the OVC

OVC Student Culture on display in the Archival & Special Collections Gallery in the University of Guelph Library

When the OVC opened in Guelph in 1922, its student veterinarians were quickly absorbed into the vibrant student social culture developed over many years by students from the Ontario Agricultural College and Macdonald Institute. Sports, dances, and other social activities with students from across campus became part of the social calendar for many OVC student veterinarians. In participating, they created many lifelong friendships and, in several cases, met and married their spouses. 

Despite participating in wider campus life shortly after arriving in Guelph, OVC student veterinarians retained and created their own unique social culture. This was reflected in various student groups, sports, a professional fraternity, and the tradition of naming mascots for each class. Many of these unique aspects of OVC life remain a vibrant part of the college today. 

Challenge Cup

Hockey has been an important part of student culture at the OVC for well over 100 years. When the college was in Toronto, OVC students played against other colleges at the University of Toronto. Once the OVC moved to Guelph in 1922, teams of student veterinarians played within city leagues as well as against students at the OAC. In 1931, Principal Charles D. McGilvray created an annual tournament for inter-year competition. That year, he donated a shield trophy for the tournament that eventually came to be known as the Challenge Cup in the 1970s. In 2012, a new Challenge Cup trophy was created and donated to the tournament by Dr. Brad Hanna, a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and member of the OVC Class of 1989. Hockey has expanded over time to include, for example, women’s, co-ed, and faculty team contests, but the Challenge Cup itself remains reserved for inter-year competition.

What’s in a Name? Class Mascots at the OVC

The tradition of OVC classes naming themselves began “officially” in the early 1980s. There are instances, however, of class “mascots” earlier in the 1970s and even as far back as the 1930s. During orientation week at the beginning of their DVM program, members of the incoming class submit names, colours, or a combination of the two into a competition for naming their class. Discussions about the mascot and colour and voting follow shortly after and once chosen, the mascot soon becomes readily visible throughout the college, adorning wall displays and class jackets. Students are not allowed to submit a colour or animal that has been used in the last four years. This tradition is a unique part of the OVC’s culture, building lasting bonds between class members, and making for fun competition between classes.