Canadian Greeks @CanadianGreeks
Fun fact: Maryon Moody Pearson (@KKGBetaPsiUofT @UofTSororities) famously said “Behind every successful man, there stands a surprised woman”
That fun fact, posted on the Pearson’s 89th wedding anniversary made me smile this morning. I was planning a post about the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge, but I am knee deep in the quagmire of writing something for a payment; getting paid is a good situation but it’s a little unsettling when things are going rather slowly and there seems to be quicksand between paragraphs.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is genius. I remember an ice bucket challenge earlier this year, in winter, and I think it was in support of breast cancer. The speed and strength of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge will take its place in the record books someday. In the United States, ALS is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the New York Yankee and Phi Delta Theta who was struck down in the prime of his career. I have a post about him at http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Iu.
In gratitude to the person behind he @CanadianGreeks tweet for the laugh this morning, I am rerunning a post about Canadian Greek-Letter Organizations.
Zeta Psi became the first fraternity in Canada when its chapter at the University of Toronto was chartered on March 27, 1879. Zeta Psi’s Grand Chapter met in 1877 and it was agreed that the fraternity should venture into Canada. The Xi Chapter at the University of Michigan was given the task of founding a chapter at the University of Toronto. It was a challenging task given what travel and communications were like in the 1870s, but the Michigan Zeta Psi’s were successful. The chapter designation, Theta Xi, honored the efforts of the Michigan chapter by incorporating the “Xi” into its name.
The chapter remained the sole fraternity on the University of Toronto campus until the 1890s when they were joined by Kappa Alpha Society, Alpha Delta Phi, Phi Kappa Sigma, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Upsilon, and Delta Chi.
The first National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) women’s organization at the University of Toronto was Kappa Alpha Theta. According to Theta’s 1956 history, We Who Wear Kites, “A letter from M.R Robertson of the University of Toronto explained that ‘one of the Zetas’ had given the seven girls of a local group ‘information about society matters and also your address.’ After favorable action by the Convention in 1887, Anna Louis Benham of Iota (Cornell University) was sent to Toronto to initiate the seven.”
The Sigma Chapter was chartered in 1887 giving Theta the distinction of being the first women’s fraternity in Canada. The faculty had a strong feeling against the Greek-letter organizations and the seven women who were initiated kept their membership a secret. By 1899, the chapter became dormant. In 1905, Sigma Chapter was revived. It was was soon followed by Alpha Phi in 1906 and Pi Beta Phi in 1908.
In 1883, McGill University’s fraternity system came to life when Zeta Psi chartered a second Canadian chapter. Again, as in the case of the University of Toronto, Zeta Psi was the only sole fraternity there in the 1880s. In the 1890s, it was joined by Alpha Phi Delta, Delta Upsilon, and Kappa Alpha Society. In 1922, Delta Phi Epsilon became the first NPC group to establish a chapter at McGill.
Today, there have been more than 150 chapters of North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) men’s fraternities and more than 75 NPC organization chapters at Canadian institutions. About three-quarters of those chapters are currently active. There are also many local fraternities and sororities.
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All rights reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/