Jonathan Bengston’s talk and dinner

On September 6th, VIOCS members were treated to a fascinating talk by Jonathan Bengtson, the University Librarian at UVic, on seven centuries of the library at Queen’s College, Oxford.

As with several other Ox-Cam colleges, Queen’s College spans the centuries from Gutenberg, and the invention of the printing press, to the digital revolution.  Libraries are vast store-houses of the knowledge of the centuries.  They help us understand A. N. Whitehead’s dictum that “everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it.”

Despite Whitehead’s dictum, it is, nevertheless, the case that the stock of knowledge is ever-increasing, and that libraries are the store-house of this knowledge, whether in pictorial, printed, or digital form.  Jonathan Bengtson enlightened us and entertained us with the special saga of the Queen’s College library, and its key role in the preservation of history, culture and life itself over seven centuries.  We are in his debt for his outstanding presentation.


Jonathan Bengston at Paprika Bistro

Jonathan’s talk was followed by an excellent dinner at the Paprika Bistro, which provided for good food, conversation-enhancing drinks, and warm companionship for our 28 members and guests who chose to attend.  All of us are indebted to Dorothy Kennedy for organizing, and arranging, the entire event

Summer Picnic

The first of what we hope will be an annual “VIOCS Summer Picnic” was held at Beaver Lake on 18 August.  Twenty cheery members gathered at the picnic site for good company and conversation, a tasty potluck to accompany the bring-your-own barbeque, and a rousing game of “Aunt Sally,” which will be familiar to those Oxonians who ventured beyond the city limits into the Oxfordshire pubs.  Simon Farthing (Darwin, 1977), though a Cambridge man, graciously threw for the Dark Blues and took home the “VIOCS Dolly Cup.”  Simon promises to return with the Cup and uphold the honour at next year’s event, when he will be knocking the dolly for Cambridge. Let this be an early call for Oxonians to muster to the challenge.

Simon Farthing, winner of the VIOCS Dolly Cup, with VIOCS members Bob Vander Steen, Patricia Kongshavn, Peter Wood and guest.

The image on reverse side of the Dolly Cup is an engraving of the game as played in the 1800s, when the game used a dolly dressed as an old woman.

Oxford’s Loss is UVic’s Gain: 6 September 2012 Talk and Dinner


Invitation to VIOCS Members:

The University of Victoria has invited us to co-sponsor a slide show and talk by the university’s newly-appointed Head Librarian, Jonathan Bengston (Exeter, 1992), on 6 September 2012. A VIOCS dinner will follow at Paprika’s Bistro on Estevan Avenue in Oak Bay.  Please join us for either or both events.


Slide Show and Talk

This is a public and free event. Jonathan Bengston’s talk, More fit our bright abodes, for warbling muses and inspiring gods”: seven centuries of the library at The Queen’s College, Oxford,” is a highly-polished and engaging look at the history of books and libraries at Oxford, with a particular focus on the remarkable collection at Queen’s College.  Jonathan’s talk will be held on 6 September 2012 at the Mearns Centre for Learning (adjoining UVic Library) Main Level, Room 129, from 4:30 to 6:00, including time for questions. Please come early to ensure a seat. Reservations are not required for this event.


VIOCS Dinner

Following Jonathan’s talk on 6 September, VIOCS members and their guests are invited to attend a dinner at Paprika’s Bistro at 2524 Estevan Avenue in Oak Bay.  Please register a.s.a.p. with the organizing committee to attend this dinner ([email protected]). Paprika’s chef/owner Geoff Parker will be closing the restaurant to the public to host VIOCS’s private dinner and show us his culinary talents, so we would ask you to support this event.  Drinks will be available at a cash bar upon your arrival at 6:15, with dinner served at 6:45.  A 3-course meal (meat/fish/vegetarian options, with details to be forthcoming) will be offered for a cost of $45 per person (tax and gratuity included). The restaurant will comfortably accommodate 40 guests for this event, so please register with us early by email to ensure a seat. Transportation will be available from UVic to Paprika’s Bistro for those requiring a ride, if indicated in advance.

We hope to hear from you by 29 August 2012. Please mail your cheque in the amount of $45 to  Brian Scarfe, VIOCS treasurer, as follows:

Dr. Brian Scarfe:  Suite 416, 21 Dallas Road, Victoria, B.C. V8V 4Z9.


We look forward to your attendance at another splendid VIOCS evening!

Dr. Dorothy Kennedy (Exeter, 1997), on behalf the Organizing Committee

Summer Family Picnic

Summer Family Picnic

The Vancouver Island Oxford and Cambridge Society invites you, and your family members of any or all generations, to a picnic to be held at the Beaver Lake picnic shelter from 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 18th. .  Please click here for directions. There is no charge for the picnic.

If you plan to attend, please respond by August 8th directly by e-mail to Brian Scarfe at [email protected],  indicating the number of family members who will accompany you.  We are particularly interested in hearing if you are bringing young children, because this will affect the activities we may need to plan.  Provided that water quality is maintained, swimming is available (there is a change house close-by), and there are excellent hiking trails adjacent to the picnic site.

Barbecues will be available for any meat/fish that you choose to bring with you.  Other than this, the picnic will be pot-luck.  Please indicate if you will be bringing munchies/snacks, a prepared salad, dessert, cheese/crackers, etc., for general consumption.  A few days before the picnic, we will send out a further e-mail to those who plan to attend indicating how many hungry mouths we expect to be in attendance.

Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the park, but please do bring non-alcoholic drinks of your choosing.  Coffee (in an insulated keg, and along with paper cups, cream and sugar, and, yes, donuts) will be available as one of us cashes in a Tim Horton’s gift certificate.  We will have a limited supply of plates, cups and cutlery available, but please bring your own if you wish.  Additional portable barbecues would be welcome, but we already have access to three or four of these.

We are planning two other events for the fall, which we will announce in due course.  We look forward to your attendance at the summer picnic and at these future events.

Best regards,

The VIOCS organization team

A very successful Boat Race celebration!

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Celebration


On May 28th sixty or so people celebrated the Oxford and Cambridge 2012 Annual Boat Race by having a party, enjoyed by everybody it appeared.  Gordon and Sigrid Walker graciously hosted the event in their lovely and spacious home in Oak Bay.  Guests were also treated to a tour of their unique, beautifully tended garden.  The red and white wines purchased from a wine merchant were excellent and easily replenished from the self-serve bar.  Tasty hors d’oeuvres   provided by Cook’s Day Off and circulated by their staff were available throughout the evening.  Wonderful cheeses kindly donated by David Wood (Exeter, 1963) (Salt Spring Island Cheese Company) were also provided and much appreciated. During the event excerpts of the boat race were shown, ending with an unusually tame finish after Oxford lost an oar blade.  After that, Cambridge was toasted brilliantly by Dorothy Kennedy (Exeter,1997) and Oxford very entertainingly by Reg Mitchell (St John’s,1963)  The evening ended with an auction which raised much-needed funds for VIOCS.  The committee would like to thank our hosts the Walkers, David Wood and all those who contributed items to the auction.

Patricia Kongshavn (Newnham, 1952), on behalf of the VIOCS Organizing Committee

It was a real treat to attend the latest event in Victoria. I was able to reconnect with long-time friends who I unfortunately don’t get to see very often and I also enjoyed meeting some very interesting new ones. If you attended Oxbridge and haven’t been to one of the Society’s events I would encourage you to do so – great company, excellent food and wine. It’s rather like popping back to the UK for a short visit but without all the inconvenient jet lag and expense!

Fiona Hamersley Chambers
(Linacre, 1998)

Oxford and Cambridge alums enjoyed a fantastic evening at the Walkers garden and home, where the boat race event has been transplanted. Those who missed it are advised to attend the 2013 event in this Edenlike setting. The new organizers are also planning extra events, such as ‘Oxbridge Musical Memories’ with appropriate treats, for an afternoon or evening. Your input would be welcome.”

Roger and Theresa Tallentire
(Wolfson, 1969)

Christ’s College Choir @ St. John’s, Victoria on July 6th

Special Summer Concerts

  The choir of Christ’s College Cambridge will be in Victoria, in concert at St John’s, on July 6th.  This will be a great opportunity to hear a fine choir from the English college tradition – particularly interesting, I think, for the older choristers (and alumni) of the VCC (the age range of the members of Christ’s College choir is about 19 – 23; they are all undergraduates at Cambridge University, studying toward various degrees, but performing several times per week in the college chapel).
The repertoire they’re singing on tour includes Parry’s Songs of Farewell, Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia, Howells’ Requiem and the Kodaly Missa Brevis.


There’s a link to the choir’s website here:   (also connects to sample tracks).
Additionally, David is looking for billets to take a chorister or two for the night of July 6th –   Please let David ( [email protected])  know if you can help.


Location: St John’s the Divine, 1611 Quadra St. (Just North of Pandora Avenue)
Time: July 6th at 7pm
Website :

Tickets are available from the church office (9am to Noon, Mon-Fri) or at the door; $15 adults/$5 Children.

David Stratkauskas is the  organist at St. John’s the Divine and the Director of the St. John’s Chamber Singers


2012 – Possibly the most dramatic Boat Race ever

Official race report –

One hundred years after both crews sank; this was set to be an even more dramatic University Boat Race.

In the weeks preceding The 158th Boat Race in the series and the last to be sponsored by Xchanging, it had been Oxford who had shown the most impressive form, defeating an under 23 German crew, Leander very convincingly and Molesey Boat Club. Cambridge on the other hand didn’t look so impressive against either Leander or Molesey and despite having 7.9Kg per man weight advantage went into the Race as underdogs.

Neither crew could boast a host of returning Blues, only the two Presidents; Dave Nelson bow in the Light Blue Boat and Karl Hudspith, 5 for Oxford. Cambridge’s Mike Thorp also raced in 2011, vowing to grow his hair until his defeat was avenged.

Coaches Steve Trapmore, in only his second race at Cambridge, and Sean Bowden in his 14th for Oxford, both worked with international line-ups but it was Bowden who had looked and sounded more confident in the build-up to the Race.

Having enjoyed relatively benign weather in the weeks and days preceding the Race, the started overcast and drizzly with a light NE wind, and while the sun briefly appeared for the Isis/Goldie race, that was largely how it remained.

In the toss for stations it was Cambridge picking tails who chose the Surrey station, hoping to take advantage of the long bend mid-way through the Race. This entire preamble counts for nothing though in this, perhaps the most dramatic of all Boat Races.

Off the start it was Oxford who looked slicker at 44 strokes a minutes, slightly over-rating Cambridge and taking an early ¼ length lead. They couldn’t break an indomitable Cambridge crew however, who had won the toss and chosen the Surrey station.

By the Mile Post which was reached in a fast time of 3 minutes 42 seconds the dark blues still only had the narrowest of leads and as the two crews settled into their racing rhythms and with continual warnings from the umpires launch to “move apart” there was no advantage to either.

And this was how the race proceeded with neither crew giving any quarter, Oxford holding on around the outside of the Surrey bend but unable to move away from the light blues as they raced under Hammersmith Bridge and on towards Chiswick Eyot. With the wind now behind them and both crews showing great heart and determination it was shaping up to be a truly fantastic race.

And then suddenly with Oxford primed to put in a push on the outside of the bend turning into the Crossing, Oxford cox Zoe De Toledo shot her hand in the air to be followed quickly by John Garrett the Umpire waving his red flag stopping the race. Amid some confusion on the river a swimmer who would have been mown down by the flotilla of following boats if the race had continued, was spotted between the two crews. Later Garrett explained how his assistant umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent had spotted the swimmer and that there was absolutely no choice but to stop the Race.

After 20 minutes Garrett (who had disqualified Isis in 1990) got the Race restarted, but it was cold and uncomfortable for the crews, needing to maintain their composure in very bouncy water while boats swarmed around them. Nothing like this had happened in the history of The Boat Race, but the drama was to continue after the restart. With a free start towards the bottom of Chiswick Eyot Oxford were off sharply again slipping out to a ¼ length lead in the first few strokes.

Then just 35 seconds into the restarted race Oxford on the outside of the bend were continuously warned to move away from Cambridge.  This they failed to do and a clash was inevitable. A clash in which the Dark Blues came out the worst and which cost them the race as Hanno Weinhausen six in the Oxford crew emerged from it with no spoon on the end of his blade.

Effectively the Race was over and Cambridge moved steadily away from the 7 man Oxford crew over the next few minutes to win by 4 and a quarter lengths, times to be confirmed.

Despite the Oxford crew’s appeal at the end of the Race Umpire Garrett declared Cambridge the winner. But the drama wasn’t quite over Alex Woods Oxford’s bow man had collapsed after crossing the finish line and was lying unconscious in the boat, having given everything to prevent his team’s loss. Cambridge President David Nelson seemed bemused and described the Race in his laconic fashion as “pretty dramatic” while expressing his concern for his Dark Blue rival.

Race Umpire John Garrett explained his decision to allow the race to continue after the clash, “Crews have to abide by their accidents. I was warning Oxford at the time of the clash, as they were off station. I was comfortable Cambridge were in the right place on the river, so it was right and within the rules to allow the Race to continue.”

After the Race there was no presentation ceremony as both sides showed their concern for Woods who was taken to Charing Cross hospital immediately afterwards, where he was recovering well a short time later.

This was a truly dramatic afternoon of sport, one in which the Umpire was adjudged to have made all the correct decisions in an unprecedented race, and in which many people probably didn’t notice that Ed Bosson had become the youngest ever winning Cambridge cox.

Report by Peter McConnell

2012 Boat Race Venue & Future Events


This is a copy of the letter sent to those members on our email list.  If you did not receive, or have mislaid, the email, please send responses to [email protected] – this is not a fillable form.


From: Krissi Spinoza

Sent: January-26-12 4:43 PM
To: Krissi Spinoza
Subject: Oxford and Cambridge Society – Boat Race Venue and Other Activities

Dear All,

I am just following up from Reg’s email to wish you all a very happy 2012 and to let you know about the Vancouver Island Oxford & Cambridge Society organizing committee’s plans for the new year.

The boat race is fast approaching and to this end we are searching for a venue for this year’s event. The boat race is on April 7th, and the boat race celebration would probably occur in early May, although there is some flexibility in the date. Would anyone be kind enough to volunteer their home for this year’s event?

The organizing committee will take care of all of the audio-visual equipment, food and beverage preparations, and help with setting up and cleaning. The venue needs to be able to hold approximately 60 people. If you think you might be able to help or have venue suggestions then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I’m sure everyone has appreciated Reg’s generosity and kindness in sharing his home over the years; however the organizing committee has asked me to make it very clear that there is no obligation for anyone who volunteers to follow in his footsteps. Please don’t feel that offering your home as a venue this year will oblige you to continue in future years. On that note, if you have a venue suggestion for 2013 or beyond please let me know.

The committee was also wondering if people would be interested in any additional social events, activities and networks. Please find below a few questions which will help us in planning any additional events and activities.  If you could take a few minutes to answer the questions and email them back to me I would be very grateful.

Would you be interested in attending further Oxford Cambridge social events?
□ Yes
□ No

What sort of events would interest you most?
□ Arts events eg theatre trips
□ Dinner
□ Talks from guest speakers and alumni
□ Potluck picnics
□ Other social events

Do you currently have a LinkedIn account?
□ Yes
□ No

Do you have other suggestions for the Vancouver Island Oxford & Cambridge Society?

Thank you very much for your help.

Kind regards,

Krissi Spinoza


The Boat Race Celebration – 2007

Seventy members met at Reg and Wendy Mitchell’s house on April 27th to celebrate the
Boat Race.  After watching the DVD, we were treated to a ‘live update” from
Kristopher (Kip) McDaniel, a member of this year’s Cambridge Crew.
Both Cambridge and Oxford were “extensively toasted” for their fine performances.

The Boat Race Celebration – 2006

Sixty Oxonians and Cantabrigians met at Reg and Wendy Mitchell’s house on Friday April 21st to celebrate the 152nd Boat Race.  All enjoyed watching the ITV video of the race, though most Cambridge folk were a bit perplexed as to why no pump was on board.  Discussions about the weather on the Thames were much enlivened by liberal amounts of refreshments.  The toast to Oxford was made by Reg Mitchell (St John’s, 62) and was responded to by Peter Wood (Queen’s 52).