Hugh and Beverly Townsend. Submitted photo.

Magic moment at college’s first Vetavision

When Hugh Townsend showed up to work his shift at Vetavision one chilly day in November 1970, the second-year veterinary student had no way of knowing that his life was about to change forever.

Townsend was working at a display in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's (WCVM) student surgery room and visiting with a prospective employer during the college's first public open house when a red-haired, female student entered the room.

"We were standing there talking when I saw this beautiful girl walk into the room. I was instantly besotted," says Townsend. "But as I watched, she sailed through the room and disappeared out the door. I just said, ‘I'm sorry. I have to go,' and I ran after her."

While Beverly Townsend doesn't remember seeing Hugh in the display that night, she does recall their first meeting.

"I was sitting down with my girlfriend in the hallway at Vetavision when this nice looking veterinary student came along and told us that they were providing complimentary rides home to the public," says Beverly, who was studying education at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). "It was cold out, and we'd taken the bus to get there, so we said, ‘Well, gee. That would be great!'"

He had lied about the free rides, but Hugh's strategy worked. By the time he'd driven Beverly home, he had her phone number and a promise to meet again soon. Two and a half years later, the couple held their wedding ceremony at the U of S — two days after Hugh received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

While Hugh vividly recalls the moment he spotted his future wife, he also remembers the months of planning that were involved in organizing the first Vetavision — a major event that was organized by the new veterinary college's students to raise awareness of the veterinary profession.

"We had lots of innovative displays," says Hugh. "I remember there was this long winding tunnel, and we made it into a huge blood vessel, so you became a blood cell and you walked through the vessel. We also had all kinds of displays of animals and a Kiddies' Korral petting zoo for the children. It was very popular."

Student organizers of this year's Vetavision couldn't promise romance, but they did offer an exciting program. The two-day event offered all kinds of activities including sheep herding, dairy cow milking and RCMP police dog demonstrations as well as a pre-veterinary night for high school and university students.

Vetavision 2015 took place Oct. 2-3, at the WCVM on the U of S campus.

The family-friendly event is still aimed at promoting the veterinary profession and the WCVM, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. During Vetavision, people of all ages tour the college and visit interactive displays highlighting the wide range of disciplines that are part of veterinary medicine.

After graduation, Hugh's veterinary career led him back to Saskatoon and U of S where he became a well-known WCVM professor, specialist and researcher. Over the years, he and Beverly took their two children to Vetavision many times. Even now, the college's student surgery room gets him thinking about the night he met his future wife and began a romance that continues today.

"I guess you could say that room was where my life started, really."

Visit vetavision.ca for more information about Vetavision 2015.
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