Gillian (Gil) O’Reilly ’78 and Alwyn Robertson ’78
Gillian O’Reilly and Alwyn Robertson’s friendship budded in high school, but it was at Trinity that it bloomed. For 49 years and counting, these two Trinity graduates remain the best of friends. They continue to benefit from the lessons they learned and the relationships they formed at Trinity.
Submitted by Alwyn and Gil, the BFFs themselves
Fast friends since Grade 10, each of us decided independently that the University of Toronto was her university of choice and Trinity was the college. (Alwyn’s first exposure to Trinity was as a junior bridesmaid at a family wedding in the Trinity College Chapel.) And we knew that even as non-residents we wanted to get involved in College life. We had both enjoyed high school, getting involved in debating, drama and, on Alwyn’s part, some environmental activism. At Trinity we were eager to explore and challenge ourselves on a wider stage.
“Trinity was a place to expand our horizons without fear,” recalls Alwyn. And we did—we continued to be involved in debating (Gil at Trinity, Alwyn at Trinity and Hart House), drama and journalism (Gil). We generally followed the advice to get as much out of the non-academic parts of university life as we did out of our studies. We were engaged observers of, if not participants in, politics. Those were still (the 1970s) the days of women’s lib and campus sit-ins (Hart House had admitted women as full members only two years before).
Gil remembers The Buttery, where she spent far too many hours, as a kind of hub. We’d arrive from a class somewhere—south, east and west across the campus or upstairs in the Larkin Building—in our various fields of study (Geography for Alwyn, History with smatterings of Art History and Latin for Gil). We’d have lunch or coffee, chat with our mutual friends and get to know each other’s new friends, and people-watch as classmates, residents and profs strolled or strode along the Larkin arcade. (Eventually, we were off to the next class, meeting, rehearsal. Did we ever think that over 40 years later we would still be having those coffee chats?) At that time, we probably couldn’t imagine anything four decades in the future. But we were confident that our abiding friendship would continue to support us as we made our way from Trinity into the wider world and all of life’s adventures.
Through the decades, our friendship has indeed endured and we continue to expand horizons. Gil is still working on children’s book projects. Alwyn, recently retired from the banking and not-for-profit world, is volunteering and mentoring students. Trinity helped us to hone our communications skills in writing, editing and community engagement, which continue to serve us well today.