An Unstoppable Spirit
The Great Depression era brings financial setbacks, cuts in operating grants, salary and staff — and yet, campus pride swells as UBC students distinguish themselves in arts, athletics, education, commerce, science, engineering and agriculture. The Alma Mater Society, various student clubs, and a dedicated Student Union Building spring up and fuel an unstoppable university spirit.
In 1930, at the aptly named Flag Pole Plaza on North Main Mall, a 204-foot flagpole, carefully transported through the streets of Vancouver and up to the Point Grey campus, is erected to become a symbol of pride for the young university.
However, that pride is tested amidst prolonged government budget cuts and a UBC administration that struggles to stay afloat. In 1932 the Kidd Report — authored by former president of BC Electric Company, George Kidd, and assisted by a panel of elite Vancouver business leaders — is released. Among its call for general tax increases and deep budget cuts, the report proposes the possible closure of the university.
In public and in the press, Professor Henry Forbes “Harry” Angus, head of the Department of Economics, Political Science and Sociology, roundly denounces the report’s recommendations. In his words:
“What matters to me is whether we are improving the quality of the men and women of the Province. It is by this test that I judge the achievement of our university and of our primary and secondary education as well.”
Explore the era
- Angus, H.F. (1932, October 15). Lecture delivered before the Vancouver Institute, 15th Oct., 1932. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_arch/angus_kidd.pdf
- Harvey, I. (Ed.). (1931, April). Graduate chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/chronicle/AL_CHRON_1931_04.pdf
- UBC Library. (n.d.). War Memorial Gymnasium: The students’ vision. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/warmemgym/gym1.html
- Header image: The University of British Columbia Archives
- Pull quote and president images: The University of British Columbia Archives
- Timeline media: The University of British Columbia Archives, Toronto Public Library (“Let’s Go Canada” poster)
- Slideshow media: The University of British Columbia Archives, Stuart Thomson courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives (Flagpole image), British Columbia Sheet Music (Hail UBC Sheet Music), AMS Archives (Ubyssey scan – note that in 1937, Ubyssey was an AMS publication)
UBC is proud to mark its 100th anniversary as a global leader in education, research innovation and community engagement.
Learn more about the UBC Centennial.