Can anyone in the senior class claim they are wearing a graduation gown from 1923?
By Ally Sullivan
Brady Lance, a graduating senior, will have his name embroidered into his family's graduation gown on May 21st.
The traveling gown was first worn by his great-great-grandmother at her graduation from the University of British Columbia in 1923. Margaret Ada Lewis Brown, a widowed mother of five, attended the university after many years of having to put it off to support her family. Eventually earning her degree in two years, a gown was handmade for her in celebration of her achievements.
Margaret and the gown have acted as a beacon of light for the family and a marker of the importance of education. The gown has been passed from every grandchild, to great-grandchild, and now five of her great-great-grandchildren. In total, it has been passed down to thirty-four people, including Brady. The sacred gown, originating from Canada, finds itself moving back and forth, never mailed, or transported via courier, or even in checked luggage. The careful nature of handling the gown shows the compassion and inclination toward the preservation of family heritage that is to be admired.
Julie Lance, Brady's mother, expressed the strong connection the gown has had with her dad's side of the family. “My dad passed away before Brady was born, and he was such a strong role model in my life. I see so much that they have in common, and having Brady wear the gown that my dad wore as well is overwhelming.” The family thread that ties the gown to the past and those loved ones that have passed on really shows the amazing power of the grand gown.
Brady himself is looking back at the long list of family members before him. “It's important to me that I wear it, I'm proud of all that my family members have accomplished, and am honored I get to add to that legacy”.
Brady Lance will be accompanied by his immediate family at the drive-thru commencement ceremony on May 21st. He will be the only one in his class with a gown from 1923.
Authors note: I would like to extend my gratitude toward the Lance Family for allowing me to capture their wonderful story, and remind me and the Saint Mary’s community of the unbreakable bonds of family.
Ryan Ford '23,