Honorary degree citation - Orson Wheeler*
By: Leah Sherman, June 1984
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Orson Shorey Wheeler, distinguished sculptor and teacher. Orson Wheeler, a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and the Sculptors' Society of Canada, has devoted more than fifty years to the practice of his art. His skill as a portrait sculptor has been recognized with the award of many commissions. Amongst these commissions have been portrait busts of prominenet Canadians, including Lyman Duff, Chief Justice of Canada, Christopher Plummer, actor. Dr. Howard Cushing and the three past principals of Sir George Williams University.
Orson has exhibited widely, in Canada and abroad, and since 1931 has been associated with Sir George Williams and later Concordia, teaching sculpture and the history of architecture. For his classes in architecture, he has constructed a remarkable collection of scale models of architectural monuments which outline the history of western civilization. These models are telling evidence of his skill and his scholarship.
Orson has witnessed the growth of Fine Arts at this institution. At first the only place where art was made at Sir George was in Orson's tiny studio at the end of a long corridor and down some steps in a corner of the Y.M.C.A. Later, three studios were allocated to the old Sir George Art School on the fourth floor of the Norris Building. With the establishment of the Fine Arts Department in the early 60's, we moved to the luxurious facilities on the fifth floor of the new Hall Building. As programmes and toxic fumes proliferated, we were finally given our own building.
While these changes in location and scope took place, Orson continued to create and to teach. As a student in my first sculpture course, I worked with him in that tiny Y.M.C.A. studio, and experienced first hand his patient, dedicated and professional approach to his craft. Along with the rest of the Concordia community, I value his work and his example.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Orson Wheeler, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.