How Each OUA Team Got Their Name: Part Two

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Guelph Griffons

Founded in 1964 after the merger of three separate educational institutions – the Ontario Agricultural College, the MacDonald Institute and the Ontario Veterinary College – Guelph is among the youngest universities in the OAU. However, whatever the school’s lack of age, he makes up for it with his chosen name and mascot: the Gryphon.

Although not native to Greek culture, the griffin played a particularly notable role in Greek mythology as one of the guardians of the southern borders of Hyperborea, a mythical region in the far north of the then known world. Part lion, part eagle, and a fierce guardian of gold, gryphons were hailed not only for their unwavering loyalty to protecting their plunder, but also for the fierce effort they would go to to do so.

Guelph chose the griffin in 1964 under rather unknown circumstances, stating only that the mythological creature exemplified the characteristics of the school and its herd of students.

Given the rather polarizing character traits of the mythical beast, one would hope that the gryphon’s most positive characteristics were those that Guelph thought deserved to be immortalized.

Western Mustangs

Like many other OUA universities, Western’s team name, the Mustangs, came about with a little help from the press.

Until they joined the senior intercollegiate league in 1929 – the contemporary equivalent of the OAU – Western’s “intermediate” football battalion, along with the university’s other varsity teams, operated unnamed. official team. Instead, they were referred to by a series of informal names used haphazardly by fans and locals. Called the “Broncos” by some, the “Skeletons” by others, and even the “Purples” by their first senior intercollegiate coach, Joe Breen, it wasn’t until the London Free Press called the football team the “Mustangs” off- in 1929, this name gained ground.

To settle the matter once and for all, the Western Gazette, Western University’s student newspaper, then put the name to a vote – either the Mustangs or the Purples.

To Joe Breen’s dismay, the former won.

RMC Paladins

When RMC reopened to students after the end of World War II, varsity athletes chose to call themselves the Redmen, a name purportedly inspired by the school’s scarlet colors and the fact that the Royal Military College was an all-male institution at the time. .

Yet in 1980, nearly two decades after female students began attending the school, the RMC administration concluded that it was best for the university to have a team name that was also representative of the student body. ever-evolving university. The name was also increasingly seen as a pejorative and offensive term towards Indigenous populations in Canada.

Thus, in 1996, the commander of the RMC, General Charles Emond, invited the students to find a new name, with a multitude of criteria to be respected. For the new name to be useful, it had to be representative of the profession of arms, identifiable in English and French, unisex, original, easily incorporated into songs and chants, easily identifiable for the public, and finally, be representative of a person, group or animal rather than an inanimate object.

The nomination process took more than two years, with 24 possible names floating around during the deliberation period. Eventually, in mid-1997, two favorites emerged, the Sabers and Paladins, which were then put to a vote.

Obviously, the Paladins won with a total of 70% of the student vote. Coincidentally, it was also the only name that fully met each of the criteria originally proposed by Emond.

Brock’s Badgers

Little information is available on how and why Brock University came to use the affable badger as its mascot, but there is an etymological trail of breadcrumbs we can follow to make an educated guess.

In Old English, male badgers were known as “brocks”, a name partly derived from the French verb “becher” (to dig), an activity for which badgers are well known.

Rather ubiquitous in the British Isles, new towns in the UK were often prefixed with the word ‘brock’ to reflect the prevalence of badgers in the surrounding areas. Places like Brockenhurst, Brockhampton or Brockworth are persistent examples.

Although the link isn’t explicit, it’s fair to guess that Brock’s name and mascot pay homage to the old English nomenclature for British towns. Otherwise, there is consolation in the fact that the name is anything but awkward.

Travelers from the Laurentians

Another university with a mysterious history regarding the choice of its mascot, Laurentian’s sports teams have apparently operated under the name Voyageurs since the school’s incorporation in 1960. Nonetheless, the mascot they chose, the Voyageur , is a well-known icon in the annals of Canadian history, and whose relationship to the region surrounding Sudbury, the city of the Laurentians, could provide the missing link at the origin of the choice.

Often synonymous with “coureurs de bois”, their autonomous counterparts, the Voyageurs were 18 years oldand– and 19andFrench Canadians of the last century who collected and transported furs for trading companies during the North American fur trade boom. Idolized at the time for their almost inhuman feats of strength, navigation and endurance, the voyageurs were the backbone of fur trading companies like the Hudson’s Bay Company and often worked tirelessly as merchants of canoes up to their sixties.

Although Sudbury is not considered one of the epicenters of the fur trade in Canada, it once had a Hudson’s Bay trading post, a place travelers would likely have frequented. This is perhaps what ultimately inspired the choice of Laurentian’s mascot in 1960.

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