e-dition - Volume 24 Number 17
By Jo Snyder
Chris Meiklejohn first stepped into a classroom 40 years ago in Pennsylvania at the young age of 25 years old. There he began what would become a long teaching career. Three years later, Meiklejohn came to the Anthropology Department at University of Winnipeg, encouraged by a good friend on staff. After 37 years he has not regretted one moment.
"I think that the most obvious thing I have enjoyed at U of W has been the general camaraderie here. I know people across the University and the place has always been a friendly work environment," he said. "Being at a small university also meant that I could teach across a broad area rather than become a hyper-specialist. This has also been true in my research where my work bridges two of the four subfields in Anthropology and overlaps into a third."
The University of Winnipeg has afforded him the opportunity to develop a series of long-term research plans without restraint; and many of those plans are still active. "I have enjoyed working collaboratively with research teams from a number of countries. I have been involved in four such teams and they have provided me with friends and colleagues with whom I will remain in contact after retirement," he recounted, adding one of his closest friends is a Danish colleague who he began working with in 1983 and with whom he is still publishing.
Meiklejohn has also been part of an archaeological team, in collaboration with Manitoba's Historic Resources Branch (HRB) that rescues and repatriates Aboriginal remains exposed by flood or construction.
To his students Meiklejohn is known for sharing his knowledge with great enthusiasm. For this, in 1983, he won The Clifford J. Robson Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. Miekeljhon enjoys great satisfaction from seeing his students succeed in the field, and their careers.
"I will miss the camaraderie of colleagues and friends here at the University, and the pleasure of seeing students succeed in career endeavours. I just had a letter from a student who graduated in 2004 and has now received an MA from the University of Sheffield and is involved in a PhD at the University of Bradford. It is very gratifying to see students successfully pursuing a dream," he said.
Meiklejohn has enjoyed the opportunity afforded him by the University of Winnipeg to broaden the scope of his study, rather than specialize in one area. This has allowed him to develop his skills as a teacher as well as a researcher, a detail that kept him here at the university. A lesson he has learned about teaching is that the "best impromptu lecture is the one that has been prepared the most."
In retirement, Miekeljhon will expand his lifelong interest in bird watching, photography and travel to Southern Italy with his wife. As well, he adds, "Most of all I just hope to enjoy life, with a bit more freedom in what I do and when."