Gerry Turcotte

Gerry Turcotte

Gerry Turcotte is the president at St. Mary's University in Calgary.

At St. Mary’s University here in Calgary, we open all our meetings with a reflection. Sometimes it is the university prayer, but often it is a meditation on a relevant issue, meant to support, comfort and uplift. 

As a photographer, I always assumed my interests were odd. My preferred subjects were dilapidated buildings, rusted metals and abandoned spaces. I love detailed closeups of ghost phrases — slogans and ads painted on crumbling surfaces that are still just visible to the eye, decades after the products were available. Driving through the countryside I will often pull over to photograph a collapsed shed, a rusted sign or a crumbling wall. 

Recently I Googled the term “selfie” and determined quickly that no further research into the matter was needed. What I found were endless varieties of scantily clad self-representations, with very little analysis about why anyone would transmit these images about themselves, or what the images were meant to suggest other than an easily accessible sexuality occurring in epidemic proportions (79 million images on Instagram alone that fall into this category). 

When we speak of Catholic education it is almost a cliché to begin by saying that universities were born from the Church and to give Bologna and Oxford as examples of the foundational role the Church played in the development of higher education. 

Mondegreens are those wonderful phenomena in language where a misheard phrase is substituted for the real thing, usually in music. The term comes from American writer Sylvia Wright who explained that she misheard the phrase “and laid him on the green” in a Scottish ballad as “and Lady Mondegreen.” 

One of my favourite bloopers from a church bulletin reads like this: “Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.” 

I grew up in a hardware store. Not one of the fancy big box stores that occupy acres of inner city landscapes. My dad’s store was a small, rundown shack that he built as far out in the city as he could in order to afford the land.