Part I - Department of Computing Science

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Architecture
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Athabasca Hall - The University's First Building Part I: 1906-1911

In 1906, one year after Alberta became a province, the provincial legislature, under the leadership of the first premier of Alberta, Alexander Cameron Rutherford, passed an act to establish the University of Alberta.

The University's first classes began in September, 1908 in Duggan St. School (now Queen Alexandra School) with fortyfive students and five faculty.

Queen Alexandra School (7730 106 St.)

Students and faculty met in borrowed classrooms on the top floor of the school.

Queen Alexandra School (7730 106 St.)

In January, 1909, the entire University was moved on one small truck to the Strathcona Collegiate Institute, now Old Scona Academic High School. The University would remain there for the next 2 1/2 years.

Old Scona Academic High School (10523 84 Ave.)

Although the building had three floors and was described in the Edmonton Journal as "one of the finest educational establishments in the West", there was a need for the University to have its own space for future growth.

Old Scona Academic High School (10523 84 Ave.)

In 1909, the Provincial Government allotted 258 acres of land, known as River Lot 5, for the development of the University.

Construction of the first building on the University campus, an Arts and Sciences Building, commenced with a ground-breaking ceremony in September, 1909

Premier Rutherford breaking ground in 1909

Shortly afterwards, a government crisis halted construction of the building and resulted in Premier Rutherford's resignation. His successor, Premier A.L. Sifton, was wary of public spending. Construction of the Arts and Sciences Building progressed no further than a hole dug for the foundation.

The remoteness of the campus in those days (almost two kilometers from the town of Strathcona) and the difficulty obtaining nearby accommodation for staff and students presented a major problem.

The University suggested building three residential halls (complete with temporary teaching facilities) to accommodate students and staff. The main campus buildings would be constructed later. This idea was approved by the Provincial Government.

Plans for the first residence, the Dormitory Building, (later named Athabasca Hall) were drawn by A.M. Jeffers, the provincial architect who also helped design the Legislative Building.

East elevation of the Dormitory Building, April 1910

His plans were inspired by ideas from Percy Nobbs, a professor of Architecture at McGill University and the designer of the first master plan for the University Campus.

Percy Nobb's Master Plan for the University of Alberta Campus (1912)

Construction of Athabasca Hall commenced in May, 1910 and was completed by September, 1911.

Athabasca Hall under construction, 1911 (Accession # 77-177)

Upon completion, Athabasca Hall became the University of Alberta's first building.

Athabasca Hall in 1911 (Accession # 90-60-8)

Although St. Stephen's College (then known as Alberta College South) was completed in 1910, it operated as a Methodist College, separate from the University. The Arts Building was completed in 1915.

Alberta College in Strathcona, 1910

The University's Board of Governors was reluctant to have Athabasca Hall built as a fire-proof structure but did authorize the use of "wood of the type known as slow-burning".

Athabasca Hall, 1911

Fire escapes were not added to the building until some years after its completion.

Athabasca Hall, 1911 (Accession # 77-36-1)

When Athabasca opened, it provided accommodation for not only forty to fifty students but also the entire University.

Athabasca Hall

There were five laboratories in the basement, a dining room for students in residence and kitchen on the first floor, and a library on the top floor.

Athabasca Hall, Winter 1911. In the foreground are the foundations of the first Arts Building which was never completed. (Accession # 81-85-2)

The administrative offices ranged from what one of the first faculty members was to much later refer to as the "President's lordly quarters down through the Dean's more modest accommodation to our tiny dens", one of the latter being originally designed as a washroom.

Rotunda, 1913

There were also seven classrooms "cunningly distributed here and there in the most elusive places". The student and faculty residences were on the first, second and third floors.

Boys in Hallway

Athabasca Hall: 1906-1911

Slide show by: Rob Lake (Office of the Provost and VP Academic)

Athabasca Hall: 1906-1911

Text by: Keith Smillie (Computing Science)

Rob Lake (Office of the Provost and VP Academic)

Athabasca Hall: 1906-1911

Thanks to: Jim Franks (University Archives) Jodeen Litwin (Alumni Affairs) Tashie Macapagal (Office of the Provost)

Rick Pilger (Alumni Affairs) Steve Sutphen (Computing Science) Kevan Warner (University Archives)

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