Webinar on Oxford and Coronavirus

A Three Capitals webinar on Oxford’s role in tracking and combatting the pandemic

We are very pleased to be continuing our Three Capitals Webinars series with our colleagues at the Oxford University Societies in Mexico City and Washington DC.

Our second webinar in our series will address the most pressing of current events: the work at Oxford to track the spread of coronavirus and to develop a vaccine against the disease.

We will feature Dr Moritz Kraemer, a Research Fellow in Oxford’s Department of Zoology and an Associate of the Oxford Martin Programme on Pandemic Genomics.

Date: Thursday, 27 August 2020
Time: 10h00 Ottawa (09h00 Mexico City, 10h00 Washington DC)
Registration: At Zoom Webinars

The race against the pandemic has become the single most urgent and most globally engaging struggle of our times. Oxford’s international reach and the depth of its research capacity have placed our University in the vanguard of that race. Dr Kraemer’s talk promises to be an absorbing one.

As always, registration is free, but places are limited, and will be allocated first-come-first-served.

The Oxford College Arms

The first of the North American Three Capitals Webinars

Our inaugural collaboration with our colleagues at the Oxford University Societies in Mexico City and Washington DC was a great success, attracting more than one-hundred Oxonians from across North America.

Dr John Tepper Marlin entertained us with stories of how the College coats of arms came into being, and what their symbols tells us about their times and character.

This was the first instalment of our new series, the Three Capitals Webinars. The Oxford University Societies in each of the North American capitals will take it in turn to host an online event. We hope our series will strengthen the bonds of friendship between Oxonians on this side of the Atlantic, and enable us to draw on the depth of knowledge and insights of our peers across our continent.

Our next Three Capitals Webinar will be hosted by Mexico City, on Thursday 20 August 2020, and will discuss Oxford’s role in tracking the spread of coronavirus and developing a vaccine against the disease.

Three Capitals Webinars

Joint events between the Oxford University Societies in Ottawa, Mexico City, and Washington DC

We are delighted to be joining forces with our friends at the Oxford University Societies in Mexico City and Washington DC, to organise a series of online webinars for Oxonians across North America.

Our first webinar will be a talk on the history of the coats of arms of Oxford’s Colleges, led by Dr John Tepper Marlin (Trinity College), author of Oxford College Arms: Intriguing Stories Behind Oxford’s Shields.

His book reveals how, for the past seven hundred years, the Colleges’ heraldic bearings have told the intriguing and irreverent story of the University, the United Kingdom, and the arc of history itself.

Date: Thursday, 20 August 2020
Time: 18h00 Ottawa (17h00 Mexico City, 18h00 Washington DC)
Registration: At Zoom Webinars

This is only the first in a series of online events, to be hosted jointly by the Oxford University Societies in the three North American national capitals.

Registration is free, but places are limited, and will be allocated first-come-first-served.

Brexit and the Bonds of Oxford

The ties that bind Oxonians together run deeper than the foundations of the modern world.

We are very pleased that QUAD, the University’s official alumni magazine, has published an article by our Vice President Akaash Maharaj.  We have reproduced his text below.

This summer, Britain’s High Commissioner to Canada generously — if somewhat recklessly — threw open the doors of her official residence, to once again host the annual Oxford University Society (OUS) Ottawa garden party.

A year earlier, our Society’s members had knocked back an improbable volume of Pimms, enough to stagger the diplomatic staff, but clearly not enough to dissuade Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque from inviting us back. However, even her indulgence had its limits: she had clearly reached her tolerance for unsolicited comments on Brexit.

I can empathise with her sentiments. More than two-hundred people spilled about the gardens, and the subject of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union seemed to be on every lip.

For Canada’s Oxonians, Brexit has been fantastically entertaining political theatre. I will refrain from offering any assessment on whether we have viewed it as high drama or low comedy.

Brexit is a sharp reminder that the questions many of us anguished over in our student tutorials remain as intractable as ever outside academia: the clash of reason and passion in electoral politics; the nature of national identity in a globalised world; the debate over whom we recognise as friends and whom we regard as strangers.

In this context, the OUS Ottawa garden party was a remarkable gathering.

The guests were drawn from every corner of the globe. Between us, we speak different languages, profess different faiths, and come from different ethnic communities. Nevertheless, we were all drawn together by our common affection for our University, and our common sense of identity as its graduates.

The ties that bind us together run deeper than the foundations of the modern world. They have proven more enduring than the countless kingdoms, countries, and empires that have risen and fallen away during the 829 years since Emo of Friesland became Oxford’s earliest-known international student.

The citizens of the United Kingdom have the unqualified right to decide their country’s place in the community of nations and their posture towards other peoples. But I can not help but feel regret, that between Brexit and the Home Office hostile environment policy, fewer international students will become part of Oxford’s story, and in turn, Oxford will become less a part of the world’s story.

This year’s OUS Ottawa garden party unfolded in a beautiful setting and under uncharacteristically glorious skies. But most important of all, it gave us a chance to renew our bond as Oxonians, and to celebrate the rare gift it has given us all: a sense that there are no strangers amongst us, only friends we have yet to meet.

Akaash Maharaj (St Edmund Hall) was the first overseas student elected President of the Oxford University Student Union.  He is Chief Executive Officer of the Mosaic Institute, which advances pluralism in societies and peace between nations. His personal web site is www.maharaj.org.

Mallets and Arches

Seeing out the summer with croquet

We ended our summer season with our annual croquet tournament, once again kindly hosted by our members Mike and Maria Stott at their home at Crystal Bay.

The setting was idyllic, the weather perfect, and the Ottawa River provided an uncharacteristically calming backdrop.

“Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.”
Lewis Carroll, Christ Church 1849

As always, the croquet itself was played with far more verve and style than talent or skill.

It was, above all, a lovely afternoon of committed relaxation and fellowship, and we were especially delighted to welcome new and prospective members.

Croquet (Without Flamingoes)

Our croquet tournament is more about enthusiasm than skill.

Our annual croquet tournament and garden party is the final event of our summer season. It is a relaxed gathering, with little fuss and less croqueting skill.  As Alice said in Wonderland, “they don’t seem to have any rules in particular; at least, if there are, nobody attends to them.”  Guests and all friends of Oxford are welcome.

Date: Thursday, 05 September 2018 (rain or shine)
Time: 17h00 to 19h30 (croquet begins at 17h45)
Place: 15 Nesbitt Street, Ottawa
Directions: Google Maps; MapQuest; Bing Maps

We thank Mike and Maria Stott, who have once again opened their home as the venue for our event.

We will provide sandwiches and light refreshments.

The cost of the event is $20.00 per person.  Cheques should be made payable to “Oxford Society, Ottawa” and mailed in advance to our Treasurer Michael Stott (15 Nesbitt St, Ottawa ON K2H 8C4).  Alternatively, e-transfers can be arranged with our Secretary Harry Corrin (h.corrin@rogers.com).


Overflowing Gardens

Our largest-ever event, under glorious skies

Our 2019 Garden Party unfolded at the British High Commission under gloriously sunny skies, and even warmer company.

In addition to our own members, we were delighted to welcome alumni from twenty-six additional British universities.  With more than two-hundred guests, this easily surpassed last year’s Garden Party to become our largest-ever event.

In addressing the gathering, our President, David Sacks, described Oxford’s extraordinary ascendancy in British public life, and questioned whether the effects have been entirely happy.

Once again, we thank High Commissioner Susan Jane le Jeune d’Allegeershecque and her staff for their hospitality in opening Earnscliffe’s gardens to us, and making it possible for so many of us to come together.

At the British High Commission

Our annual Garden Party

We are very grateful to the British High Commissioner to Canada, Susan Jane le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, for inviting us to once again hold our annual Garden Party on the grounds of Earnscliffe, her official residence.

Earnscliffe is well known in Ottawa, as much for the beauty of its landscape as for its place in our history, as the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister.  Happily, the grounds are extensive, enabling us to open our event to alumni and friends of all British universities.

Date: Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Time: from 17h30 to 19h30
Place: Earnscliffe, 140 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Directions: Google Maps; MapQuest; Bing Maps

Cost: $30 per person
Dress: Business attire
Registration: Download form

We regret that there is no parking in the immediate area.  Attendees will need to make arrangements either to be dropped off at the High Commission gates, or to park elsewhere and to take a pleasant stroll to the grounds.

To reserve places, please download, complete, and mail us a copy of the registration form, to reach us no later than 18 June 2019.


The Future of Newspapers

A keynote address to our alumni, by the Executive Chair of the National NewsMedia Council

The Navy Officers’ Mess had to add an additional section to its dining room, to accommodate all the Oxonians who wanted to hear John Fraser (Exeter College) speak on the future of Canadian newspapers and magazines, at our 2019 Annual Alumni Dinner.

As Executive Chair of the National NewsMedia Council, Mr Fraser is at the eye of the storm of our times. The Council is the Canadian media industry’s self-regulatory body, and adjudicates pubic complaints against news outlets on matters of truthfulness, fairness, and balance.

John Fraser addresses the 2019 OUS Annual Dinner

Social media has amplified the power of both truth and lies to speed around the world; it has never been more important for citizens to be able to distinguish between the two, to be able to make informed decisions about whom we trust to deliver news and insight.

Mr Fraser’s remarks were witty, lively, and optimistic. We are grateful to him for serving as our keynote speaker.

Our 2019 Annual Dinner

John Fraser of the National NewsMedia Council will be our speaker.

We are delighted that John Fraser (Exeter College) will be our keynote speaker at our Annual Dinner, on 10 January 2019.  Mr Fraser is Executive Chair of the National NewsMedia Council, and he will speak on the future of newspapers in Canada.

The genie of new media has escaped its bottle, with its power to inform and to mislead, to rally citizens together and to set them against one another, to drive political accountability and to effect political manipulation.  Concurrently, traditional media are grappling with fragmenting audiences, declining advertising, and dwindling subscriptions.  The question of whom Canadians trust to deliver news and insight has never been more contentious.

Mr Fraser is one of Canada’s most distinguished journalists.  He began as a teenaged copy boy for the Toronto Telegram, and became an award-winning writer for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, and Maclean’s, as well as for a host of international titles.  During his tenure as Editor of Saturday Night, the magazine won the most awards of any Canadian publication, and he was named “Editor of the Year” in the National Magazine Editors Awards.

From 1995 to 2014, he was the much-loved Master of Massey College in the University of Toronto, the only self-governing graduate residential college in Canada.  The Massey Lectures, the Massey Journalism Fellowships, and the Massey Scholars-at-Risk Programme all flourished under his stewardship.

Date: Thursday, 10 January 2019
Time: 18h30 for 19h00
Place: Navy Officers’ Mess, 78 Lisgar Street, Ottawa
Directions: Google Maps; MapQuest; Bing Maps

Our annual dinner is a lovely opportunity for recent graduates, long-time members, and friends of Oxford to meet, to break bread together, and to celebrate our shared bond through our affection for the University.  Traditionally, most of our attendees have worn black tie, but this is entirely optional.

The cost of the dinner is $75 per person. To reserve places, please download and complete the registration form.  Your reservation must reach us by 03 January 2019, but please note that the annual dinner is traditionally our most popular event, and last year, all places were spoken for before the registration deadline.

We very much hope to see you there.