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When work began on the new Regina Campus

By Dale Johnson Posted: April 30, 2016 10:00 a.m.

(l-r) A.D. Whitehair (Wascana Centre Authority horticulturist), Dr. W.A. Riddell (principal of Regina Campus), A.K. Gillmore (Wascana Centre Authority Executive Director), J. Moss (Wascana Centre Authority Solicitor), P.J. Moran (Wascana Centre Authority Director of horticulture services) at the campus sod turning.
(l-r) A.D. Whitehair (Wascana Centre Authority horticulturist), Dr. W.A. Riddell (principal of Regina Campus), A.K. Gillmore (Wascana Centre Authority Executive Director), J. Moss (Wascana Centre Authority Solicitor), P.J. Moran (Wascana Centre Authority Director of horticulture services) at the campus sod turning. (Photo courtesy of Wascana Centre).

The University of Regina’s main campus got started 53 years ago this month.

That’s when construction crews arrived on a farm on the edge of Regina and began work on the new campus.

“History will be made Wednesday when work starts on the first group of buildings to be erected on Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan,” the Leader-Post reported.

“The first shovelfull of earth will be turned over in the northwest part of the new campus, in the yard of the experimental farm.”

It was April 10, 1963, and dignitaries were on hand for the historic occasion.

The day marked the beginning of a new era for post-secondary education in Regina, after decades of discussion and years of planning.

From the time that Regina College opened in 1911, some people thought it should be expanded. After becoming part of the University of Saskatchewan in the 1930s, there were ongoing discussions about the possibility of an expanded role for the Regina Campus.

In the 1950s – largely because of the post-war boom and overcrowding at the U of S in Saskatoon – it was decided that Regina Campus should be enlarged.

One feasibility study suggested extensively expanding the College Avenue Campus – including taking over properties north of College Avenue and east of Broad Street.

But another study suggested building a brand new campus by acquiring the Dominion Experimental Farm and adjacent properties. From that came an idea for an even larger master plan, including the provincial legislature and park areas. Together, the Government of Saskatchewan, the City of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan developed the Wascana Centre Authority - with the new campus being a key part.

The site for the new campus was announced in January 1961, and Minoru Yamasaki was named as the architect.

By locating the new campus on a former farm, Yamasaki had the rare opportunity to create a campus without being limited by existing buildings and roads.

Construction work began on that cool Wednesday in April 53 years ago; the farm buildings were torn down and soon two new buildings appeared on the southwest corner of Regina. The Classroom Building included classrooms, faculty and student offices, administrative facilities and the library. The other new building – the Laboratory Building – included laboratories, a lounge, facilities for buildings and grounds, offices, a post office and a book store.

A little more than two years later – in July 1965 – the first classes were held at the new campus, and the official opening ceremonies were held in October 1965. In 1974, it became the University of Regina.

More buildings have been added over the years, and today more than 14,000 students attend the University of Regina – on a campus that had its start on a farm on the outskirts of Regina 53 years ago this month.  

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