When the U of R opened its first residence

By Dale Johnson Posted: September 5, 2015 3:00 p.m.

This was a model of the new College West residence that opened 43 years ago.
This was a model of the new College West residence that opened 43 years ago. Photo courtesy of U of R Archives.

This is move-in weekend, as students arriving at the University of Regina are getting settled in residences. This year, the newest residence, Kīšik Towers, is opening. Way back in the fall of 1972, the first students were moving into the new College West residence.

Although the Luther College residence had opened in the fall of 1971, College West was the first residence that was operated by the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan, as the University of Regina was called before July 1, 1974.

College West cost $5 million to build. There was room for 405 students. There were suites for six to 12 students, with common living and dining areas and kitchens. The suites were furnished, and students supplied their own linen. Some suites were wheelchair accessible.

college west construction
College West, when it was under construction in early 1972. (Photo courtesy of U of R Archives).

Rent per four-month semester for a single bed-sitting room was $255; for a single bedroom, the cost was $235; and for a shared bedroom the price was $215. Parking facilities and meal plans cost extra.

When College West opened, a three-bedroom bungalow in the nearby Hillsdale subdivision was up for sale with an asking price of $21,500 when mortgage rates were 6 to 7 per cent. A new Mercedes-Benz cost $6,685 and gasoline was 10 cents a litre.

Those prices might sound like a bargain, but consider this: the Public Service of Canada was advertising in the Leader-Post newspaper for supervising accountants and auditors with a pay range of $10,726 to $12,188 per year; and the Regina General Hospital was hiring General Duty Nurses at a wage of $550 to $610 per month.

There were just 3,538 full-time students at the University when College West opened in the fall of 1972.

In the years that followed, the University added more student accommodations – La Résidence, and then the North and South Towers, which were recently renamed the Paskwāw Tower and Wakpā Tower respectively.

Now, with the opening of the Kīšik Towers, a new chapter in campus life begins.

But what is not different for the students in the newest residence from the first students in the brand new College West back in 1972 is that feeling of independence, convenience – and engagement in campus life.