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Getting down to work to get Regina College up and running

By Dale Johnson Posted: March 29, 2016 3:00 p.m.

People gathered for a ceremony in October 1911 when the cornerstone of Regina College was laid, after plans were unveiled in March 1911.
People gathered for a ceremony in October 1911 when the cornerstone of Regina College was laid, after plans were unveiled in March 1911. Photo: U of R Archives

People in Regina got to see for the very first time what Regina College would look like 105 years ago this month.

The Leader newspaper reported on March 11, 1911 “Yesterday evening a special meeting of the board (of governors) was held and architects’ plans for a very imposing building were accepted...Stone and brick, similar to that employed in the construction of the land titles office, will be used in the construction of the college.”

The article explained that “There will be two large towers at the ends of the main building. The details are not all settled as yet and several important features are yet under consideration.”

(By the way, the second of the two towers never was built because of financial problems.)

Inside, plans were more definite. The Leader reported the ventilation plant “which will be one of the most up-to-date possible to obtain” would be located in the basement, along with the kitchen and a dining hall with seating for 300 people.

“On the first floor and half of the second floor will be situated the classrooms. The remaining space on the second floor will for the present be taken up for dormitories,” the article said.

Tenders were soon called and construction began within a few months. Meanwhile, the very first students enrolled in Regina College – 27 in total – had to attend classes a few blocks away on Hamilton Street, in a renovated hospital, starting in September 1911 because work was getting started on the new facility. A ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone was held on Oct. 25, 1911.

By the fall of 1912, the new building on College Avenue wasn’t quite completed, but it was available for classes – even though students sometimes heard saws and hammers as workers finished the building. The official opening ceremony was held on Oct. 14, 1912.

It's been more than a century since then, and during that time thousands of people have been educated at the College Avenue Campus, as it's now known. It also served as a military training facility during World War II.

Now, it’s undergoing renovations to update it with the latest safety and technology features, and restore it to its original glory envisioned when people got their first look at the architectural drawings of Regina College in March 1911.