Grandfather and granddaughter reunite for Homecoming

John Greenberg and his granddaughter
Image by: Anna Maria Li
John Greenberg and his granddaughter

Sixty-six years following his graduation from Queen’s, John Greenberg, Sci ’49, rejoined his family and friends for a Homecoming to remember. 

Originally from Ottawa, Greenberg came to Queen’s to study mechanical engineering. When he arrived, computers were in their infancy and the modern ballpoint pen had just become widespread. 

“Those were interesting times,” he said. 

After finishing his degree, Greenberg went on to work many jobs, including a time serving as an inspector for the Royal Military College. 

In 1951, Greenberg moved back to Ottawa and opened The Mastercraft Group of Companies, an investment developer group that built thousands of homes, apartment buildings and condominiums across Canada. 

But in the midst of all his success, Greenberg never lost touch with Kingston. He returned home to upgrade the Lasalle Causeway. 

Looking back on his time at Queen’s, Greenberg said he was always a hardworking student.

“I didn’t party a lot,” Greenberg said. “I had a good buddy who was really a lot of fun. His name was Bill and he was a fun guy.” 

Bill was the troublemaker of their rat pack. According to Greenberg, he caused quite a ruckus in the streets of Kingston. 

“What he used to do was insane,” Greenberg said. 

For Greenberg, Queen’s is like a second home, and he’s kept close ties with the university.

“Queen’s was so liberal in its attitudes, particularly at that time, and so welcoming,” he said. 

Two generations later, his grandchildren share similar feelings. Of his 13 grandchildren, three attended Queen’s. 

Dayna Zunder, Sci’18, followed in her grandfather’s footsteps as a Queen’s engineering and applied science student. 

Zunder said having her grandfather back at Queen’s has been a special experience. There’s nothing quite like sharing beers with your soon-to-be 90-year-old grandfather at Ritual, a Queen’s engineering tradition on Fridays at Clark Hall Pub. 

“I’m geological 2018. I’ll graduate 69 years after him. Hopefully, he’ll be the one to swear me in at the Iron Ring ceremony,” Zunder said.

According to Greenberg’s daughter, Karen Zunder, when Greenberg returned to campus last year with his Sci ’49 jacket, he had “rock-star status”. 

“He was stopped numerous times by well-wishers. Even when we went out for dinner, I watched people stare and point as we took our seats at our table,” she said. 

Greenberg’s story inspires students like me to take advantage of the time we have here. Soon, we’ll be alumni returning to campus to reminisce about our glory days here at school.

“My experience at Queen’s was great. I loved it. When I look back, it was probably a turning point in my life,” Greenberg said. “I have some very warm feelings about Queen’s.”


Alumni, Engineer, family, Homecoming, Queen's

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