Whidden Hall History

History buffs! It’s your lucky day…..here is a little piece of Whidden History for you to salivate over. =)

Whidden Hall (opened 1961)

Whidden Hall’s name honours Howard Primrose Whidden (1871-1952), McMaster’s sixth chancellor (1922-41).

When it first opened in 1961, it housed 250 men. The building went co-ed in 1980 – something that would have been unthinkable during Dr. Whidden’s time as executive head of the University.

In addition to approving the name of the building, the Board of Governors of the University also approved names for the three wings: Rand, Wallace, and McCrimmon, in memory of three other chancellors of the University.[1] By 1965, these names had become associated with floors rather than wings, and the building having four levels another name was required – New (in honour of Chester W. New, professor of History from 1920 to 1951).

Whidden Hall is said to have inspired the classic film Animal House (1978). The movie was produced by a renown McMaster graduate – Ivan Reitman ’69.

By 1980, New House had given way to Gaiser House and Hooker House (Dr. New’s name had been given to one of the three arts towers in 1974). Dr. Lulu O. Gaiser was professor of Biology (later Botany) from 1925 to 1949 – a time when there were very few women amongst McMaster’s faculty. The reference to “Hooker” is said to have been a reference to Dr. Harry Lyman Hooker, whose bequest to the University of more than $25 million was announced in 1980.

Whidden Hall’s first president was Lynton R. Wilson (Honours History ’62, honorary doctor of laws ’97). He went on to an exceptional career in public service and business, serving as:

Ø Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Tourism from 1978 to 1981;

Ø President and CEO, and later Chairman of the Board, of Redpath Industries between 1981 to 1989;

Ø Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1989-90; and

Ø President, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer, and finally Chairman of the Board of BCE Inc. (now retired)

Whidden Hall Presidents (research in progress)

1961-62: Lynton R. Wilson ‘62

1962-63: Charles Coles ’63 / Gary Murray ’63

1963-64: Dennis A. Carson ’64


1965-66: Robert J. Williams ’66 (also IRC president)

1966-67: Barry Davies

1967-68: Bill Williams



1970-71: Gary Bannister

1971-72: Steve Peconi

1972-73: Peter Greco

1973-74: Graziano Gazzola

1974-75: Ronald Hancock

1975-76: Bruce E. Walker

1976-77: Roger C. Trull ’79

1977-78: Roger C. Trull ’79 (also IRC president, MSU president in 1978-79)

1978-79: Michael D. Rogers ’79 (also IRC president)

1979-80: Steve Ross


1981-82: Damien Cox

1982-83: Rob Scott

1983-84: Rob Scott

1984-85: Bruce Beckett






1990-91: Karim Lakhani


1992-93: Jason D.D. Hunt ’94 (also IRC president, MSU president in 1993-94)

1993-94: Darren Nichiproik


1995-96: Jonathan Arsenault

1996-97: Brian McDermott

Whidden Hall as recipient of awards

Lynn Watson Award – 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1993

Blood Vessel Award – 1986, 1987

IRC Cup – 2006

[1] Theodore Harding Rand (1835-1900, chancellor 1892-95), Oates Charles Symonds Wallace (1856-1947, chancellor 1895-1905), and Abraham Lincoln McCrimmon (1865-1935, chancellor 1911-22).



  1. Came across your site in a google search. Great research. President in 1980/81 was Chris McAlpine. President in 1989/90 was Bernie Koehler. I was president in 1991/92. I know Darren and Jon were after me. But there is someone missing in the 93/94, 94/95, 95/96 time period and I can’t pin it down. I know Darren followed me immediately and I think Jon after that, but I could be wrong about Jon.

  2. Darryl Sproule was president in 1992-1993, leaving Jason Hunt as president in 1991-1992.

  3. There is an error for the president position for 1972-73. Peter Greco was not the president. It was John Joblin.


    Grats Gazzola president 1972-74.

  4. Chris McAlpine was 1980-81

  5. Chris “Cal” McAlpine was actually the President in 1985-86. I know because I’m him…:)! I was only in grade 12 in 1980-81.

  6. As I was Whidden Hall Social Convener in first year of co-Ed, 1980-81, I can say Hall President was Katie ? And VP was Debbie ? The other Social Convener was Debbie Hayward that year.

  7. Chris McAlpine was the president for 85-86

  8. I was in Whidden between 84/85 and 88/89. Memory is hazy but yes, president in 84/85 was Bruce Beckett. I remember “Cal” but thought the president in 85/86 was “Zip”. I believe the next year was Val. (Valerie). Can’t remember who it was in 87/88 but I think it was Young Hwang in 88/89.

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