KPE continues year-long centennial celebration

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2012

Students from the McGill School of Physical Education practicing callisthenics in 1922. The School, the first of its kind in Canada, was founded in 1912.

By Jim Hynes

Of all the anniversaries being celebrated by McGill units this year, the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) can surely lay claim to the most significant of all. The department, born in 1912 as the McGill School of Physical Education, is now 100 years old.

Beginning on May 27, 1912, under the leadership of Ethel Mary Cartwright, a one-month summer course on teaching physical education began, and McGill became the-first university in Canada to offer a certificate in physical education.

The department has been celebrating its centennial throughout 2012, beginning in January with a lecture by Bloomberg-Manulife Prize for Promotion of Active Health recipient Steven Blair and followed in February with the first in a series of seminars by KPE alumni.

During Homecoming in October, the department hosted a series of celebratory events, including public visits of its research labs, a mini-museum of KPE artefacts, the Beatty Memorial lecture by Dr. Kerry Courneya, a leading expert on exercise support programs for cancer survivors, and finally a centennial banquet held on Oct. 13 at the Omni-Mont Royal Hotel. The latter event also served as the official launch party for From Bloomers to Body Mass Index: 100 Years of Kinesiology and Physical Education at McGill, a history of the department penned by KPE professor Greg Reid.

“The centennial anniversary required an historical statement and I was the logical person to tell our story,” said Reid, who graduated from McGill’s Physical Education teacher education program in 1970 and started teaching in the department in 1973.

“I have always been interested in history and had followed courses while an undergraduate, but I was a reader of some history, never having conducted any historical research,” Reid said. “But because I had remained at McGill for so long, I was able to recall some stories from my teachers about our past and knew that our centennial was approaching in 2012, and the centennial celebrations would coincide with my personal retirement after 39 years as professor. As mentioned in the book, this personal journey constituted a significant chunk of the second 50 years of the Department. I had lived some of our history.”

To get started, Reid wandered down to the McGill Archives and tried to access as much primary evidence as possible.

“Reading the handwritten Board of Governors’ minutes was a highlight. From the Board I graduated to annual reports, calendars, Senate minutes, Old McGills, McGill News, photo libraries, theses and dissertations and department minutes and reports. It was all good fun scattered over four years.”

The department continues its celebrations this week with a panel discussion on public health. Panelists will discuss the topic “Teacher preparation programs and public health issues: Promoting healthy, active lifestyles” on Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 2-3:15 p.m. at the Faculty of Education’s Jack Cram Auditorium (room 129).

The following day, McGill will host the annual conference of the Association of Physical Educators of Quebec (APEQ). Dr. Jo Harris, Loughborough University, will deliver the Jennifer Wall Keynote Address, titled “How well does Physical Education promote active lifestyles? Recommendations for physical educators and physical education teacher educators.” For more information and to register, visit

From Bloomers to Body Mass Index: 100 Years of Kinesiology and Physical Education at McGill is available at the McGill Bookstore.

To learn more about the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, go here.  And to read more about its centennial, read this article in the McGill News.

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