University makes lasting gesture to memory of Cameron Bruce
Updated 6:31 am, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Gone but not forgotten. Though a student of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, for only a week last fall, the memory of a well-loved 18-year-old Westporter was paid tribute by the school with the planting of a sugar maple tree on campus Saturday.
Cameron Bruce's life was cut short last September when he fell from a sixth-floor window of his dorm. He had followed in the footsteps of his father, Iain, by attending the Canadian university. The day he diedwould have been his first day of classes studying engineering.
Approximately 100 people gathered to pay their respects Saturday on a site near the school's Summerhill tennis courts, many of them engineering students, according to The Kingston Whig-Standard, despite the rain, wind and chilly temperature.
Iain Bruce told the Westport News he thought the gathering spoke of "the caliber of his son's friendships, that these kids, who knew him for only ten days, were so affected and they would remember him this way."
In addition, the Engineering Society made trumpet-shaped patches for everyone to attach to their Queen's University jackets, which differ in color depending on the program of study. A portion of the proceeds from the patches will be donated to one of the scholarships the Bruce family established in Cameron's memory.
Iain Bruce spoke to the crowd while wearing his Queen's University jacket from 30 years ago. The Kingston Whig-Standard reported his voice wavered when he recalled a memory he never got to share with his 18-year-old son.
"We were going to get a picture of the two of us in our Queen's jackets," he said, pausing. "I guess we'll never get to do that now."
Iain Bruce told the Westport News his son didn't live long enough to receive a university jacket, since they are usually ordered in September and arrive before the Christmas break.
Cameron, a 2010 graduate of Staples High School, was an honored scholar and athlete at his alma mater. He had competed on the swim team for four years and was also a skilled trumpet player, often in demand to play at events in town, including Memorial Day ceremonies.
Queen's Chaplain Brian Yealland officiated at Saturday's ceremony, and told the Westport News Tuesday morning, "The message to the young people we wanted to inspire in them is to live Cameron's dreams and remember him for the wonderful talented young guy that he was and living every day to the fullest, and to do that themselves."
Yealland said the sugar maple tree, one of many trees that line the walkway in the arboretum-like area of the campus, "means Cameron will always be with us."
"He'll always be a part of us," he said.
The tree was planted between Summerhill, the oldest building on campus, and Theological Hall, which is one of the older and more traditional buildings on campus, Iain Bruce said.
"It's also where a number of engineering and other orientation activities take place, and near where the bands (pipe band and brass band) practice. So it suits Cameron well," he said
Cameron Bruce had planned in his sophomore year at the university to be part of the committee that oversees orientation week for first-year engineering students.
Yealland said in addition to being a skilled musician and a captain of his high school swim team, Cameron was also a high achiever academically. "He achieved high enough marks to be admitted into the [engineering] program," he said. "Unless your marks are off the top end, they'll tell you there's no point in even trying" to get into the program.
Asked what made his son special, Iain Bruce said, "I think ultimately his humanity, his ability to connect with people."
He added, "He accepted people on their own terms. He bonded with people of all ages and backgrounds. He had an innate positive humanity that I think is rare, but I think it's particularly rare in people his age."