Autumnal Reflections

Autumnal Reflections

Illustration Credit: Nisa Notta

Why St. Mike’s and the University of Toronto are forever linked to fall 

By Sara Moretto, Contributor 

The leaves are falling and so is your GPA here at U of T, known affectionately by some as the best school in Canada and to others as the reason why they won’t be leaving their beds this September. Still, there seems to be some element that renders this university so easy to sentimentalize in the fall. 

I’ve asked a few brave St. Mike’s students to share some of their cherished campus autumnal memories in hopes of uncovering this hidden truth. 

Thomas MacKay, experimental post-punk aficionado, recalls his impromptu birthday party during Orientation Week as the star of his September: “I never did much for my birthday before that really, and this kid I didn’t know discovered I was turning eighteen that night. Before long, a crew gathered to find cake and candles and at midnight we all ate it outside Elmsley Hall. I remember it so well.”  

To the broader point, it’s difficult to isolate fall from the net of school, friends, our beloved quadrangle scattered with red leaves, reading students in sweaters, and St. Mike’s ivy scaling Gothic revival towers. Lucia Harley romanticizes her Fisher dorm window: “Seeing Michael the statue adorned in his fall gamut, the dogwalkers, throwing my roommate, Mackenzie, her glasses when she was late to quantum mechanics. St. Mike’s still feels like home.” 

A noticeable theme began revealing itself to me throughout my research. Macy Hughes remembers studying over spiced lattes with friends in Toronto cafés. Yena Paik tells me about group Halloween revelries. Jerry Wang recalls his first Nuit Blanche, racing around the city with friends. Adrian Cachia reflects on spirited discussions over seasonal Canada Room (Croom) feasts. Nicholas Palin paints me a portrait of his view of fall at St. Mike’s: midnight basketball games in the quad, meeting new people in a multicoloured Queen’s Park, and parkour on St. George Street. Indeed, when I reminisce about my first year, I think of common room evenings doing little work, conversations on Modernism, and being alone with others under churches and skyscrapers. I think of friends, of school, of St. Mike’s, and of U of T. 

Maybe that’s what it’s all about. A sense of friendship and community excited by a romantic, metropolitan landscape; the unifying nature of survival in academia, and the impulse to experience and grow. Back to school dread cut short with the return of camaraderie, of an all-pervading hatred of the Robarts stacks. Maybe long after graduation, all of us will watch our calendars hit September, watch leaves turn gold, and remember how it felt to be young and learning. Perhaps I’m mistaken and our association with autumn is influenced by the abundance of pumpkins outside the Queen’s Park Buildings. Regardless, as the temperature drops alongside your willingness to attend that 8 am lecture, I encourage you to pause for a moment and admire the vibrant hues, the bustling city, and the extraordinary people you’ve encountered here. I know I do.