Half a century in education – happy anniversary to us!

Today we celebrate a milestone, 50 years after welcoming our first students

By Maxwell Otte, Records and Information Management

Douglas College is 50 years old today.

Fifty years ago, at 10am on Nov. 19, 1970, Douglas College officially opened. The opening ceremony took place on Douglas Day, a holiday commemorating the first governor of British Columbia, Sir James Douglas.

When Douglas College opened it served eight school districts (Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Richmond and Surrey) and had campuses in New Westminster, Richmond and Surrey. There were 1,200 full-time students, 729 part-time students and 95 faculty.

Official opening ceremony on Douglas Day, Nov. 19, 1970. Left to right: College Principal George Wootton, Minister of Education Donald Brothers, Premier W.A.C. Bennett, and Chairman of the Douglas College Council Jack Smedley, with plaque commemorating the opening.

Building a bright future

Due to construction at the New Westminster Campus, the opening ceremony was held at Massey Auditorium at New Westminster Secondary School. The auditorium was full of students and invited guests, and the program opened with a performance by the Douglas College Band. Premier W.A.C. Bennett was the principal speaker and declared the college open, capturing the egalitarian spirit of Douglas by saying, “Community colleges… Will raise the standard of living for everyone in B.C. They are neither technical schools, nor universities, but are all things to all people.”   

Read more: Take a look at our photo timeline to see the evolution of Douglas College

Remarks were also delivered by the Minister of Education, Donald Brothers, College Principal, George Wootton, and Chairman of the Douglas College Council, Jack Smedley. Speaking to the new students, Smedley emphasized that the College was “totally committed to creating a climate for learning out of which may grow your much needed contribution to improve life’s standards in our time.”

Fifty years later, Douglas College continues to uphold Smedley’s commitment by providing students with educational experiences that challenge and enlighten, and open doors to lives of passion and purpose.

Official opening ceremony on Douglas Day, Nov. 19, 1970, at Massey Auditorium in New Westminster. Douglas College Council Chairman Jack Smedley giving speech.

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