Gamma Sigma Chapter was founded at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on June 25, 1928. The Chapter closed in 1976 after the chapter requested that the Fraternity Council allow it to surrender its charter, believing that the campus attitude towards fraternity life was not conducive to the chapter continuing.
Gamma Sigma had its beginnings as a local sorority, Lambda Theta, organized on June 4, 1925, at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. It was not until April 1928 that Lambda Theta was received into the international sisterhood of Kappa Kappa Gamma. The long-awaited acceptance was worded: “Lambda Theta’s petition has been granted and Kappa Kappa Gamma will be happy to welcome you as its newest chapter.” Eleven young women were installed as charter members in June 1928, and since that time Gamma Sigma touched the hearts of hundreds of members.
The University of Manitoba was then the largest of the three Provincial universities. It was the first university to be established in Western Canada and from its founding added seven colleges to its corporate and associate body. The University of Winnipeg was an associate college until 1967, at which time it was granted its own university status. These two universities offered 24 degree-conferring programs to their 20,000 students. Gamma Sigma drew its membership from these two universities.
Since Gamma Sigma’s founding, it was felt that fraternity life had advantages that no other form of club or association had to offer. The chapter’s primary purpose focused on the promotion of good fellowship, the growth of each individual member, and better scholastic standing.
Fraternity life grew significantly on the campus following Gamma Sigma’s installation. There were four national sororities in 1928, with a total membership of 78. In 1975, there were seven national sororities with a membership approaching 200, as well as 12 fraternities. At the time Kappa granted Gamma Sigma’s charter, there were four international sororities on campus which necessitated a change from the Inter-Sorority Council to the Panhellenic Council. This continued with representation in the mid-seventies from Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, Pi Beta Phi, and Zeta Tau Alpha in addition to Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Panhellenic sponsored many activities on campus. In the early fall, there was the traditional Panhellenic Formal, the culmination of the hectic rush weeks. Other annual Panhellenic events included philanthropic fundraising activities, inter-sorority athletic events, and the Scholarship and Awards Banquet.
A new organization known as the Greek Council was formed in 1972, developing from the recognition that fraternity life could be stronger if sororities and fraternities worked together. This was tremendously successful in promoting inter-Greek relations, and in making prospective and current members aware of the opportunities for campus involvement.
Gamma Sigma remained unhoused, as sororities never attained the size or strength to warrant a house. As a result, the chapter had a transient look, with meetings during the years in chapter rooms, university facilities, in a rented Panhellenic House, in the homes of parents and alumnae, and lately in an apartment. This was far from ideal in regard to maintaining chapter records and possessions, but demonstrated the patience and spirit of each member of Gamma Sigma Chapter.
Philanthropic work began in 1929 when the chapter started occupational therapy at the Children’s Hospital. This interest grew and later made possible the endowment of a Kappa Kappa Gamma Ward at the Children’s Hospital. Two memorial scholarships, presented to a local high school graduate and a university student, were soon added to the growing list of endeavors by the efforts of alumnae and the Mothers Club. Gamma Sigma Chapter and Alpha Phi Sorority donated a trophy in 1959, which was used to encourage participation in the university’s annual Red Cross Blood Drive. At one time, Gamma Sigma was able to sponsor a foster child, a young girl in South America.
Although there are no scholastic honorary fraternities in Canadian universities, recognition for excellence in scholarship was given by individual faculties, Panhellenic, and the chapter. The best known of university awards was the Dean’s Honor List, on which those in the top five percent of their year were placed. Individual faculty and private scholarships were also awarded, and hardly a year went by when one of the Kappa actives was not so honored. In an effort to promote chapter scholarship, a statue of “Hortense,” later renamed “Minerva,” was purchased. Every year, Kappa challenged Pi Beta Phi for that statue.
An annual retreat began in 1929, which managed to weather itself through the chapter’s years on campus.
One of the high points of 1937 was the house party with the Fargo, North Dakota, chapter, Gamma Tau, at Detroit Lakes.
The World War II years saw the dawn of the Snow Ball, a charity dance, with its catch slogan, “Help Kappas Help Kinsman Help Kiddies.”
At the Fraternity Convention in 1950, the chapter won the Standards Award. Since there are very few awards given, this was considered a great honor.
Gamma Sigma’s 1953 fundraising events were so successful that four scholarships were presented to high school students.
On the lighter side, Kappas in Winnipeg, with the help of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, won the university’s Snow Sculpting Contest in 1959.
Kappa and Alpha Gamma Delta held the first Grey Cup party in 1965. The Grey Cup is received by the champions of the Canadian Football League. This became an annual event.
Gamma Sigma was featured in The Key in 1972, with a description of the philanthropic work the actives were doing with foster children living in group homes.
The previous information was excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976. The information that follows has been gleaned from available resources including Chapter History Reports, chapter meeting minutes, letters and comments from chapter members and alumnae, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives, and The Key. Each chapter is expected to update its history record annually. Contact Fraternity Headquarters at [email protected] with questions.
Gamma Sigma, Manitoba, closed in 1976. The chapter requested that the Fraternity Council allow it to surrender its charter. The active members believed the campus attitude towards fraternity life was not conducive to the chapter continuing. In 1974, there were seven Panhellenic groups on the campus, and two closed their chapters in 1975. In 1976, only 15 women went through Recruitment, and only 10 pledged. When Kappa left the campus, four groups remained with from three to 18 members. (Fall 1976 issue of The Key)