[Story originally published in 2005]
Bermuda Shorts Day began in 1961, when The University of Alberta, Calgary branch, was still on the sait campus. Freshman and Gauntlet Editor-in-Chief of the following publishing year Alan Arthur, who had just bought his first pair of gaudy Bermuda Shorts, wanted to celebrate spring. So he wrote on the main hall blackboard: Tomorrow is Bermuda Shorts Day. Everyone wear Bermuda Shorts.
Many of the university’s 250 students did. We spent the day in various juvenile frolics. I remember being a finalist in the marbles championship but losing to Nestor Kelba. I had no chance. That real athlete deployed a medicine ball against my steelie.
Looking back, that modest party served a serious purpose. Most of us still lived at home and stayed with our high school circle, so the small campus didn’t register the university difference.
Paradoxically, we declared that new independence and maturity through a day of silliness that we could not have gotten away with in high school. We felt older for the freedom to act juvenile.
I gather that Nestor has retired after a fine career in education. Alan retired in 2004 as a distinguished history professor at Brock University. Though close friends since Grade Nine, we both joined the new Brock at the same time unaware the other was coming. When I see what grew out of that first Bermuda Shorts Day I’m reminded anew of this university’s phenomenal growth and enrichment. Still working up the nerve to wear Bermuda Shorts myself, though. Sans long-johns.