Over a century of USask life through the perspective of its students.
The USask archives, available for free online, offer a glimpse of what student life has looked like since the Sheaf’s founding in 1912. These are some of the biggest headlines and overall themes that those students reported on.
The news cycle of this decade has so far been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics such as how this international event has changed daily and university life, the various stages of restrictions implemented and how to “redefine normal” have all been covered by the Sheaf over the last few years.
A feature of this paper was the larger role played by technology: the internet, video games and social media sites such as Twitter are mentioned more frequently. In this year, USask appointed Ilene Bush-Vishniac as its ninth President and first woman to occupy the role. Among other big Sheaf headlines at the university this year was the beginning of construction on the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. 2012 was marked by blockbusters like The Hunger Games in the entertainment section and included a farewell to the Canadian penny.
The Sheaf in 2002 included mentions of the Kyoto Protocol, a climate change convention put forward by the United Nations that many students marched in support of. This year also saw the introduction of mandatory teaching evaluations at USask and Hollywood hits such as Harry Potter and the Star Wars prequels. The 9/11 attacks and the military repercussions that followed were recognized among the major world events of 2001. The Sheaf reported on how the disruptions to international travel affected students flying home for the holidays, and published responses from various people around campus to the attacks, many expressing sentiments of shock and tragedy.
1992 was a big year for Sheaf headlines about goings-on at the University. These included reviewing the history of Place Riel Centre, discussions around its upcoming renovations, the frustration of tuition hikes, the first student-initiated award recognizing teaching excellence and the launch of the Women’s Studies program. The paper also boasted a section sharing opinions on a national referendum of the constitution, some for and some against. In international news, one article discussed the fear and ignorance surrounding HIV and AIDS, sentiments that were still present as Magic Johnson came forward about his diagnosis.
This period of the Sheaf had an abundance of publications on international politics and conflict. It was heavily influenced by the Cold War, with recurring headlines covering topics such as the anti-war movement, Stalinism, cruise missiles, the United States’ military machine, nationalism and conflicts in places such as Central and South America, South Korea and South Africa.
Around this time, changes can be noticed in the look of the paper from modern to a more old-fashioned publication, particularly in that there are less photographs included – drawn images or ads are more common. Hot-button issues mentioned here include the war in Vietnam, draft dodgers and the anti-war protests that were especially popular among students. The headlines at this time were quite diverse, ranging from “Free Angola” to “The Cosmic Art of Frisbee.”
The 1962 Sheaf paper was more focused on university news than headlines around the globe. It also featured more personal submissions such as poetry or prose entries. One article written for the Canadian University Press and reprinted in the Sheaf discussed the issue of Quebec’s freedom within Canada. Expansions to the university, such as the creation of Marquis Hall, are also reported on.
Like the 60s paper, poetry was featured more often here, as were ads for Coca Cola and various brands of cigarettes. Another ad revealed that Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was playing at the Roxy Theatre. Articles referencing Christianity or the “Christian nation” were more prominent. One article on a professor’s opinion on communism involved praising the strength and liberty of the American capitalist system.
The Sheaf again found itself printing during a time of international turmoil as the Second World War was in full force. Negative opinions of what the Nazis were doing and how the war impacted life at home in Saskatchewan were reported. There were numerous mentions of soldiers, efforts to provide aid, war work for women and men and options for students to register in military training. There were also articles recognizing students that had died in service.
Delving this far back into the archives, the paper now looks very vintage, with crowded pages of small font and very few photos. Again there is more of a focus on university or local news in the Sheaf’s content, although there are the occasional mentions of larger issues like women’s rights as they are relevant to university life. One article at this time consisted of a debate about whether compulsory lectures should continue, with some strongly against the idea. “Christianity and Nationalism” was another notable headline.
While the papers in the 40s and 30s had fewer photographs, they still had several hand-drawn images, cartoons and advertisements; in these papers even those are mostly gone, replaced by more finely printed articles and ads without images other than some basic logos. The sports section mentions the university’s ladies hockey and basketball teams. At one point the paper mentions celebrations of Armistice Day, and how four years have passed since the end of the World War – named this way because of course it was the only one that had happened yet. It is noted on the front page that the paper is “Ten Cents a Copy.”
1912 The first Sheaf ever to be published, on November 1, 1912, is formatted as more of a magazine than a newspaper. I was particularly struck by the “Volume One, Number One” proudly emblazoned on the decorative front page as I considered the 110-year journey of the publication. The content of this Sheaf includes a brief history of USask’s first five years written by Dr. Walter Murray, the first President of the university, as well as overviews of a few prominent colleges and organizations within or linked to the university before ending with a few jokes and columns on university life.