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Order of the Ancient Commoner Members, Elizabeth and Owen Parkhouse

Order of the Ancient Commoner Members, Elizabeth and Owen Parkhouse

The following remarks were delivered at the 2018 Alumni Annual Dinner on June 2, 2018 by Ian Scott,  BJ(Hons)’89, about Elizabeth Parkhouse, BA’90 and Owen Parkhouse, BA(Hon)’90.

I am delighted to stand here and introduce two of my closest friends – Elizabeth and Owen Parkhouse – for admission to the Order of the Ancient Commoner.

As any graduate of the King’s journalism program would, upon being asked to make an introduction of this sort, I did a little digging into the background of the Order.

According to the King’s website …

  • The original Ancient Commoner was an undergraduate student who didn’t graduate
    • Not so for Owen or Elizabeth. Both received their BA diplomas in 1990.
  • The Ancient Commoner retreated – Quasimodo-style – to the cupola overlooking the Quad
    • No shrinking violets; Elizabeth and Owen couldn’t retreat from the public sphere if their lives depended on it
  • The Ancient Commoner was also supposed to be “highly critical of King’s activities”
    • And yet two bigger boosters of King’s College I couldn’t imagine

In short I’d be hard pressed to think of two people less suited to be welcomed into the Order of the Ancient Commoner than Elizabeth and Owen Parkhouse.

But let me take a couple of moments to explain why – despite this seeming incongruity – we should honour Owen and Elizabeth Parkhouse this evening.

When he was at King’s, Owen devoured everything King’s could offer. He rowed. He played rugby and volleyball. He worked with the Halliburton Society, served in the chapel, and would serve tea in his dorm room … earning him the unenviable nickname “Sir Hot Steaming Tea Bag”.

Elizabeth relished King’s life with no less gusto. She was deeply involved in athletics and played on the volleyball team all four years of her time at King’s. Elizabeth enjoyed arty cinema, ballroom dancing, snowball fights in the quad, book readings and picnics.

It’s hard to believe that these two pulsars in the King’s firmament did not align their orbits until mutual friend and classmate Trevor Greene – BJ (Hons) ’88 –   introduced them to each other in the quad. Owen still talks of Elizabeth’s laugh and bright smile.

In a world of Reacher’s and Settlers, Owen clearly reached and shortly after graduation, he and Elizabeth married.

A new life was unfolding before them, but their time at King’s was not forgotten.  Owen served as the Alumni Association Executive from 1993–‘97 and was the alumni rep on the Board of Governors from 1995 to 1997.  During the Alumni Association’s 150thAnniversary Celebrations in 1996, Owen and Elizabeth chaired the opening Friday Night event – a Ceilidh in Prince Hall.

In 2016 the King’s Worldwide Alumni Celebration was born in an effort to connect alumni to King’s and to each other around the globe.

Owen and Elizabeth jumped at the opportunity to host an event. But as Prince Edward Islanders they couldn’t limit it to just their community. They made plans to invite the island.

Armed with a list of alumni, they called, sent emails and spread the word about the Worldwide Alumni Celebration.  The first event was modest but the next year, Owen and Elizabeth set a goal of doubling the attendees and once again set about calling and emailing every alumnus on the island.

On the evening of the Celebration, wearing specially designed King’s T-shirts, Elizabeth and Owen welcomed a throng of alumni to a Charlottetown pub decorated with King’s pennants and a giant King’s flag. It was a huge success with many more alumni attending, sharing stories and reminiscing about their time at King’s.

Already, Elizabeth and Owen are planning the third annual Worldwide Alumni Celebration event for Charlottetown in the Fall of 2018.

Elizabeth and Owen are University of King’s College alumni who are making a difference. Their volunteer commitment to bring together King’s alumni on Prince Edward Island supports the Alumni and strengthens links among alumni and the college.

Last fall during King’s Open House, Elizabeth and Owen’s daughter, Bethany visited her parent’s alma mater. I know that Elizabeth and Owen are hopeful Bethany will continue the family tradition of attending King’s and experiencing the warmth and support of the community they enjoyed when they were here.

The Ancient Commoner is also said to have looked favourably on people he considered to have made a significant contribution to the college without regard for personal gain …

On this point I can think of no two people more deserving of the Order of the Ancient Commoner than Elizabeth and Owen Parkhouse.