Two years after the founding of the Ryerson Institute of Technology in 1948, Aurelie and Raymond Wycik started running the tuck shop commonly known as the Ram’s Corral. Their warmth and affection made the tuck shop feel like home for thousands of students and they quickly became popular in the community as Mama and Papa Wycik.
According to university archives, Mama and Papa Wycik were both post-Second World War refugees from Estonia. Mama came to Ryerson hoping to take English language courses, but instead took up a job at the tuck shop in the old Students’ Union building on Church Street. Along with Papa, she ran the tuck shop for the next 25 years, even when it was moved in 1960 to a newly renovated building that is today known as Oakham House. Mama and Papa lived in an apartment on the second floor of the building and ran the men’s residence hall as well as the cafeteria and tuck shop.
A group of students honoured the couple with a lasting tribute in 1970 by naming their residence Neill-Wycik College. In October 1975, Mama and Papa were inducted into the university’s 25-year-club with a grand reception that felt more like a family gathering to those who attended. Members of the university community who got to know the couple over the decades attended to show their love and gratitude to them for taking care of students, faculty and staff over the years and always being a source of support.
Today, Mama and Papa Wycik are remembered fondly as a vital part of the university’s history and values. Their legacy continues to be a reminder of the family that students, faculty and staff create during their time on campus and the community values that help so many find a home away from home.