A century ago, Regina College was ready for brighter days ahead

By Dale Johnson Posted: December 28, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Women made up two-thirds of the student population at Regina College a century ago, because men were in the armed services.
Women made up two-thirds of the student population at Regina College a century ago, because men were in the armed services. Photo: U of R Archives

The month of December is a time for reflecting back on the year that is coming to a close – as well as a time to look ahead to the future.

Almost 100 years ago this month, the future of Regina College – the forerunner of the University of Regina – looked bright after some rather difficult times.

“INSTITUTION ENTERS ITS EIGHTH YEAR WITH MUCH CONFIDENCE IN FUTURE EXPANSION,” was a headline in the Regina Leader newspaper on Dec. 4, 1918.

“Completed in 1911, Regina College is now entering upon the eighth year of its existence, under auspices which are decidedly more bright and promising than ever before,” the Leader reported.

There were a couple of reasons for such optimism.  

The World War ended just a few weeks earlier with the signing of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.

The War had been deeply felt at Regina College, the Leader reported, because for a couple of years “the number of girls and young ladies attending the college has far outnumbered the boys and young men, this being due to the war which has called more than 100 professors and students into active service. Seven students and ex-students have given their lives for their country.”

Attendance at Regina College was 590 students; there were 405 women and just 185 men because of the War. In fact, the women’s residence was filled to capacity so no more applications were being accepted.

“Great plans are being made for the work of the college next year, and the end of the war has only been awaited until plans for the development of the institution could be proceeded with,” the Leader said.

An even bigger threat, which killed more people than the First World War, was the flu epidemic – and things were improving in December 1918, with a quarantine being lifted.

“Owning to the influenza epidemic the college has been under the strictest quarantine for the past six weeks. Not a serious case of sickness has developed at the college all the time the epidemic has been raging in the city and throughout the province,” the Leader reported.

The newspaper praised Regina College for its various courses, including business, music, domestic science, art, and public speaking.

Although the course offerings have expanded dramatically and the number of students has grown to over 14,000 since those days, there are some things that have not changed over time.

As the Leader said: “Regina College means much to the city of Regina."
"Under the presidency of Rev. E. W. Stapleford., D. D., the college has made remarkable headway, and now stands well up among the educational institutions of the kind to be found anywhere on the continent.  Dr. Stapleford’s platform and organizing ability, his cultural and scholastic attainments and his fine personal magnetism and tactful and courageous spirit have left their mark upon every department of the life of the college,” the newspaper said.

As 1918 was coming to a close and the horrors of a world war and the dangers of influenza were passing into the history books, students at Regina College were preparing for better days in the months and years ahead.

Those students probably couldn’t imagine that a century later the buildings where they lived and studied – now known as the College Avenue Campus – would be getting ready for the next 100 years.