Winter Carnivals at Concordia University
Winter Carnival at Concordia was a time for student fun and games. The particular traditions at Loyola, Sir George Williams and Concordia might have been somewhat different, but the principle was the same - Winter Carnival was a time to enjoy a much-needed break in the middle of the winter term!
The first SGW Carnival was held in Shawbridge, February 3-4, 1940, organized by the Ski Club. It included a weekend of skiing and skating, a torchlight parade, a dance, an open-air church service and a Carnival Queen who was elected by the students. It became an annual event looked forward to by students, faculty and staff.
The first Loyola Carnival took place February 14-16, 1957. It featured an ice palace, a bonfire, an ice sculpture competition, a torchlight parade, a sleigh ride on Mount Royal, a variety show, and a dance. The first elected Carnival Queen appeared in 1962. The celebrations became a much-anticipated annual fixture.
The fun continued at Concordia after the 1974 merger of Loyola and SGW, when more of the activities were held on campus. Winter Carnival included events such as tricycle races, a male beauty contest, car rallies, beer bashes, scavenger hunts, fashion shows, pub crawls, and ice sculptures at Loyola and in Bethune Square adjacent to the SGW Campus. The Concordia University Student Association (CUSA) mascot, introduced in 1979, was an imposing but cuddly bear and the Bear's Birthday Party was an important part of Concordia Carnival celebrations. In the 1980s Carnival organizers added features such as pool parties, a lumberjack pancake breakfast, a pajama party, a movie marathon, spaghetti dinners, break dancing, and punk concerts. But in the 1980s rising deficits were the result of lack of interest and poor participation. The Carnival and the Bear mascot disappeared after the 1989 festivities. Winter games and quirky ice sculptures were replaced by a spring break spent skiing, basking on faraway beaches or catching up with assignments.
© Concordia University Archives, February 5, 2009