Skip to main content

John Hayto, grad of Concordia’s first class of 1975, reflects on the last 50 years

‘There was no better place than Loyola Campus in the early 1970s’
October 27, 2023
By Ian Harrison, BComm 01

portrait of a man with beard wearing a white shirt

Expo 67. The FLQ crisis. The run-up to the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Almost five decades after he was a member of Concordia’s inaugural class, John Hayto, BEng 75, comes to life when asked to reflect on his student days.

Hayto attended both the Jesuit-run Loyola High School, where he served as an altar boy at St. Ignatius Church, and, across the street, Loyola College. The latter merged with Sir George Williams University to create Concordia in 1974.

“It was an incredible time that, for a teenager in Montreal, felt alive with possibility,” says the retired telecom executive.

“There was the wider counterculture movement, there were anti-war protests on campus. It was very sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and there was this rising political and social consciousness.”

Hayto remembers when the Front de libération du Québec set off a bomb on Loyola Campus on May 5, 1969.

“Thankfully nobody was hurt,” he says. “I think that incident just underscored for a lot of us that we were coming of age during a time of great uncertainty and change.”

black and white photo of young, bearded man with a mid-century folding camera “For a photographer, there was no better place than Loyola Campus in the early 1970s,” says John Hayto, BEng 75.

An avid photographer and accomplished athlete, Hayto chronicled life on campus for the Loyola News and raced on the downhill ski team.

“For a photographer, there was no better place than Loyola Campus in the early 1970s,” he says. “The fashions were outrageous, the scene was so vibrant.

“Skiing had been a passion of mine from a very young age. I was thrilled that the college had a team I could join.”

‘It felt like I had my pick of jobs’

As a bit of a polymath and man-about-campus, Hayto eventually drew the notice of Loyola’s administration.

“I was taking too many classes at one point — nine, I think — and with all of the extracurriculars, my grades were suffering,” he recalls. “So I got called into the dean’s office for a chat.”

Hayto promptly buckled down and, like his father before him, earned his civil engineering degree. An MBA from Western University’s Ivey Business School soon followed.

The combination proved potent.

“I was very fortunate to graduate with those two degrees when I did,” observes Hayto, who lives in Burnaby, British Columbia, with his wife, Cindy, a physiotherapist and occupational therapist.

“It felt like I had my pick of jobs. I’m not sure it’s the same for students today — there’s so much competition now.”

With his engineering and business background, Hayto built a successful career in the telecom industry, most notably with giants like Nortel and Alcatel, at a time when fibre optics were emergent.

Wherever his work took him, from Montreal to Saskatoon and then Vancouver, Hayto balanced the demands of his career with an active lifestyle. Cindy, an avid volunteer and former competitive triathlete, was his partner along the way.

“We just get a lot out of being active together, whether it’s golfing, skiing or tennis, and giving back to organizations in the community,” says Hayto, a former president and current board member of the Rotary Club of Vancouver.

“I think a lot of that harkens back to the Jesuit tradition of service that was part of my experience at Loyola.”

As Hayto shares some final reflections on Loyola and Concordia, he says that he’s eager to stay in touch with former classmates. He still spends a good deal of time in and around Montreal every year.

With Concordia’s 50th anniversary on the horizon, Hayto adds that he’s struck by how quickly the time has passed, and how his alma mater has grown.

“When I was a student at Loyola and we heard about the merger to create Concordia, there was some skepticism and questions,” he recalls. “We just didn’t know how it would work and how they would combine these two different institutions.

“Looking back, it’s amazing to see how Concordia’s built its own identity while honouring the spirit of Loyola and Sir George.”

50 years: Forever Forward marks Concordia University’s gold and garnet anniversary. From June 2024 to June 2025, our milestone will rally our community of more than 45,000 students, 7,000 staff and faculty as well as 260,000 alumni. We take pride in Concordia’s history and imagine our future as we culminate our university’s historic fundraising effort, the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen Now.

Back to top

© Concordia University