Holland College Blog

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Very distinguished Prince of Wales College alumnus visits Holland College

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A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a very distinguished alumnus of Prince of Wales College, Dr. Lewis Woolner. At the age of 101 (he’ll be 102 next month), Dr. Woolner must surely be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, living alumnus of Prince of Wales College. We thought he might be interested in taking a tour of the Charlottetown Centre, originally the location of the Prince of Wales College. The building was constructed in 1932 to replace the previous building, which burned down in 1931, and would have been about four years old by the time Dr. Woolner graduated.

Dr. Woolner usually gets around with the help of a walker, but with all of the construction work that’s going on in the main entrance and in the old auditorium (which is being transformed into a performance hall for the college’s School of Performing Arts, a partnership with Confederation Centre of the Arts), we deemed it safer to show him around in a wheelchair.

The retired pathologist, who spent his career at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota after earning a medical degree at Dalhousie University, returns to his native Prince Edward Island just about every year to reconnect with his family and his roots. It was an extraordinary experience to watch Dr. Woolner sifting through his memories, and to see his face light up when something struck a chord.

Some parts of the Charlottetown Centre remain almost as they were when the building was first opened. In one of our Accounting Technology classrooms, there is a beautiful set of floor to ceiling cabinets and drawers. This area used to be a physics lab back in the Prince of Wales College days, and so was certainly a space in which Dr. Woolner would have spent a great deal of time.

He remembers walking to the college from West Royalty, where he roomed with his aunt and uncle, and he remembers walking past the 1911 Jail every day on his way here. The wheelchair proved useful, as once he had seen the Accounting Technology classroom and the performance hall, he wanted to go around the outside of the building to see the doorway through which he would have entered on most days,  on the Kent Street side of the building.

Finally, we showed him the newer part of the Prince of Wales Campus, the lovely courtyard and the quadrangle bordered by Glendenning Hall, the Centre for Applied Science and Technology, and the Centre for Community Engagement.

The Prince of Wales Campus has been a busy spot since Dr. Woolner’s visit. The first year students were here for an orientation. There were more than a thousand students from campuses and centres across the province in the Centre for Community Development and in the quad and courtyard getting to know each other and soaking up the college’s vibe. The average age of Holland College is about 24, although there are students as young as 18 and there are many mature students as well. They will spend the next year or two honing their skills and acquiring the knowledge they need to enter their chosen fields; most of them will look back at the time they have spent here fondly, and will form friendships that will last for decades. But it’s doubtful that many of them will be back to visit the campus in 80 years! We hope that Dr. Woolner will visit us again next summer.

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