Lakehead University Alumni Magazine


Published April 22, 2009

Orillia Campus

I graduated from Lakehead's Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Tourism program a number of years ago now (too many to say). As I was reading through your Magazine, I noticed that you are building a campus in Orillia. It occurred to me that it would be good promotion for the University to give out a Lakehead U bumper sticker with every parking permit.  As a Torontonian, I notice these stickers from various universities all the time. If you are looking to draw attention to the new campus, this might be an easy way to do it.

Krista Kilian (HBOR'97)
Toronto, ON

Thank you for your suggestion.  We have forwarded it to John Singer, Vice-President (University Advancement) and Eleanor Abaya, Director of Communications.


Professor Tom Miller
Professor Tom Miller

Who first thought of creating a postsecondary educational institution in the Canadian Lakehead? It is hard to say, but the first visible action was when Mayor Fred Robinson put the idea before the Port Arthur city council and got its support. Lakehead Technical Institute, established on June 4, 1946, by an Order-in-Council of the Province of Ontario, was the first result of his proposal.

A critical move toward developing a university-level institution was the hiring in 1955 of Thomas Breech Miller, PhD, a war hero and a recent doctoral graduate in History from the University of London. Miller had served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, survived being shot down twice, spent four years as a prisoner of war in Germany, and was the first Canadian to win the George Medal. As an undergraduate supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, he had not concentrated on getting top marks. Instead he concentrated on getting as broad an education as possible. Thus when Lakehead Tech asked him to teach first-year History, English, Philosophy, and Political Science, he accepted with alacrity. By all reports he taught those four Arts subjects successfully and, one by one, established the needed departments.

With his foot in the door, Miller along with Doug Fisher and many others agitated for the establishment of Lakehead University which came about when The Lakehead University Act, 1965, was given royal assent by the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Miller headed the History department and for one year doubled up as Director of Extension, which meant sending faculty members out to teach weekend courses in every Northwestern Ontario community large enough to have a high school.  Miller received offers for appointments to more prestigious universities but turned them all down.  His heart was in the Lakehead, his wife's home town, and in Lakehead University where he was a prominent figure until his retirement.  He died in 1996.

Why did he get the George Medal?  Almost home from a raid over Germany, the bomber in which he was the navigator was shot down by a trailing German fighter. The plane crashed, throwing Tom clear.  He went back into the burning plane and hauled two crew members to safety.  Going to Buckingham Palace to receive his medal, Tom got a big kick out of the fact that his cousin, an army major, who escorted him, had to play second fiddle to a mere sergeant.

Ken Morrison
Thunder Bay, ON

During its 40th anniversary celebrations in 2005-2006, Lakehead honored 40 Northern Lights: forty extraordinary men and women who have made a difference to the growth and development of Lakehead University.  To read more about Tom Miller, Bill Tamblyn, and others who have made a singular mark on the evolution of Lakehead University, visit 40 Northern Lights

Orillia Campus

I'm a former student and proud friend and donor of Lakehead University. Though I haven't been to Thunder Bay in over two decades, the time I spent at Lakehead University in that wonderful city is near to my heart and never far away from my thoughts. Therefore, you can understand why I was quite pleased to receive my issue of Lakehead University Magazine recently. However, that pleasure wore off somewhat as I soon realized that the entire issue was devoted to the new campus in Orillia.

I do realize that the new Orillia campus represents a seismic shift in the history of my beloved Lakehead. However, the Thunder Bay campus is still the epicentre of life at Lakehead. Orillia may be the future for the University, but your alumni are motivated mostly by their misty-eyed memories at the main campus in Thunder Bay.  You can see then why I would like to see more about the goings-on at the main campus in every issue. In fact, now that I think about it, I would also like to know more about life in wonderful Thunder Bay in general.

Anthony Gualtieri
Niagara Falls, ON

Most of the editorial content of the Fall/Winter 2008 issue was devoted to the development of Lakehead University–Orillia Campus because it is so vitally important to Lakehead's future.  It was, however, meant as a one-time special issue to draw attention to the development of the campus.  In this issue, we hope you'll find lots of news about Thunder Bay and Lakehead University–Thunder Bay Campus.

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