Design captures a moment in time

Paul Mayne // Western NewsCommissioned by Western’s Canada 150 Committee, Engineering student Ethan Kellough created and designed a one-of-a-kind time capsule to help the university celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Soon on permanent display in the D.B. Weldon Library, the capsule will be opened on Canada’s 200th birthday in 2067.

Every student wants to leave their mark at Western before they graduate – Ethan Kellough has guaranteed his for at least the next half century.

Commissioned by Western’s Canada 150 Committee, the Engineering student created and designed a one-of-a-kind time capsule to help the university celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Soon on permanent display in the D.B. Weldon Library, the capsule will be opened on Canada’s 200th birthday in 2067.

“It was a cool project to be part of and a great way to give back to the campus,” said Kellough, who took on the solo design and creation of the maple leaf-adorned, aluminum capsule, receiving some assistance from members of University Machine Services.

He was given few parametres by the Western’s Canada 150 Committee regarding the design ­– it had to last 50 years in direct sunlight, have a capacity of 1.2 cubic feet and cost less than $1,867. Beyond that, Kellough was free to do what he wanted with the overall look.

“The purpose of the time capsule is to be a functional work of art. Therefore, the design process was the pursuit of two concurrent lines of thinking – form and function,” he said. “It had to represent Western, represent Canada and capture a beautiful image.

“I enjoyed the design side of things, being creative and then using my engineering knowledge to be able to take something where the design side is less tangible.”

The 21-year-old put in more than 100 hours over a number of evenings getting the time capsule just right. He is thrilled with the final design.

“You can always keep tinkering, but at some point you know it has to be done,” he said, adding, as he researched his design, he kept coming across some common themes.

“Western’s innovations are at the heart of some of the biggest Canadian achievements in our nation’s 150-year history. From biological and life sciences, art and literature, to astronomy, social sciences and physics, Western has been at the forefront of innovation in Canada.”

When researching Western, Kellough found the most striking images of campus came in the fall, as leaves of the maple trees turned red and orange. Furthermore, maple leaves are featured in the Western crest and coat of arms.

“I wanted to use the maple leaf in as subtle and beautiful a way as possible, not making it the main attraction, but an accent that would be appealing both within, and separate, from the context of the Canada 150 celebrations.”

Josh Morgan, a member of Western’s Canada 150 Committee, headed up a time capsule project for the City of London’s Sesquicentennial in 2005. He pitched the concept to the Western committee.

“The committee thought it was a great idea and I was invited to join them to help make it happen,” said Morgan, Western’s Recruitment and Development Officer (Local Government Program). “There is an awesome team who is supporting this project and it would not be possible without their hard work and dedication.”

He added what makes this time capsule unique are the individual messages from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners that will be placed in the time capsule.

“It is my hope that individual messages from the Western community provide a snapshot of life at Western in 2017 – a window into the culture of the day, our hopes, dreams, struggles and insights into daily life,” he said.

Anyone can participate with a personal message, insight or reflection making this an opportunity to share a voice and perspective with future generations. You can add your message by emailing

While the time capsule has a sleek aluminum finish, Kellough initially made an effort to add a little ‘purple pride’ to the mix, but technology, or lack thereof, wouldn’t cooperate.

“As I delved into the symbolism of what I was creating, purple just started to make more and more sense,” he said. “However, we can only work with the technology we have and, in my research, there is no commercially available purple coating that will provide reliable UV resistance over the course of 50 years.”

But Kellough didn’t let that minor setback sour what is going to part of Western’s campus for the next five decades.

“I enjoyed doing it, I enjoyed the whole product design and creating something. It’s a way to leave a mark at the university,” he said.” It was work, but it was fun work.”

So, will the 71-year-old Kellough be back on campus in 2067 for the opening of his time capsule?

“Sure, if they want to invite me, I’ll be back,” he said.