Kemptville College reunion returns following a two-year absence

By Tom Van Dusen 
Ontario Farmer 
September 6, 2022 

 Lombardy – It may have been longer than five years since the death knell was sounded for Kemptville Agricultural College but its relocated alumni is still going strong. 

Even COVID-19 couldn’t terminate the association’s dedication. It held a recent reunion at Lombardy Fairgrounds south of Smiths Falls where a new building was dedicated in 2019 to house alumni artifacts donated by members and removed from the campus under a cloud of controversy. 

After disappointing cancellations in 2020-21 due to the virus, it was a thrill to get together again, said Mary Carver of the class of 1967. The biggest problem was securing overnight accommodations in Smiths Falls and area as grads checked in from across the province and beyond. 

Organizers were delighted with the response from featured years ending in 0, 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7, Carver said. More than 100 guests attended the luncheon and 250 members and partners gathered for the evening buffet centered on a 110-lb hip of beef; she credited Judy Drummond of the Lombardy Agricultural Society and her team of volunteers for catering the “delicious meals.” 

“Due to the heart-breaking demise of Kemptville College in 2016, a strong alumni association is credited with successfully keeping graduates connected and memories alive,” she stated. 

Carver was referring to the decision by University of Guelph to abandon the college and its second satellite in Alfred. The backlash was loud and long-lasting, 

culminating in takeover of the campus by the Municipality of North Grenville and creation of an educational hub mainly catering to regional school boards. 

The association was invited to retain its presence on the repurposed campus but opted instead to relocate to Lombardy, a decision Carver, a professional home economist, and other members welcomed. 

Describing the Lombardy historical building as a “must-see” for grads and former staff members, Carver said artifacts and photos were well-organized for the reunion. The best news given at the annual meeting was that the fundraising goal for the $60,000 archives building has been fully met through donations from members, businesses and other sources. 

Members of honour years are encouraged to contribute an auction item in support of two annual alumni scholarships of $1,000 each offered to students in their second year at an accredited college in food or agriculture; live and silent auction proceeds this year exceeded $3,500. 

The annual Spirit Award was collected (again) by Carver and her Class of ’67 members, with 24 grads in attendance; the award is presented to the honour year that scores highest in attendance at the annual meeting and banquet, greatest number of items donated to, and funds raised, at the auctions; oldest grad in attendance; and number of grads who married a fellow Kemptville grad. Carver is married to Roy Carver of the Class of ’66 who helped conduct the live auction. 

The alumni board is already planning for the next reunion on Aug. 19, 2023, honouring years ending in 3 and 8. However, all grads are invited to attend any reunion.