North Campus Explorer

The University of Alberta is just as much a physical place as it is a community and an institution. Check out a few select experiences around the North Campus


Main Quad on the U of A North Campus

A big part of the return to university at the start of the new academic year is the returning to the University of Alberta as a physical place (at whichever campus or facility you study, research or work). I’m personally very excited about the return to campus life that we are almost a few weeks into, and I’ve decided to curate a few of my favorite experiences on the U of A North Campus (as it’s the one I’m most familiar with, and have spent the majority of my studies at). These are options that should be available to current U of A students at little to no cost, and offered at a variety of times that can fit many busy schedules. Maybe we’ll even meet each other at one of them this Fall semester!

Attending a workshop at the Bruce Peel Special Collections

As part of studying at university I’m sure we’ve all spent a decent amount of time in one campus library or another. However, most students won’t really have a need, or opportunity, to visit the Bruce Peel Special Collections - a collection of over 100,000 rare books located in Rutherford Library. The books here don’t feel so much like “books as transmitters of information” as they do “books as works of art” - some of the items are incredibly beautiful, and all are stored, and handled with care. During the final year of my undergraduate degree I was fortunate enough to have a professor take one of our classes to the BPSC for a tour, where we saw a number of amazing books - including ones from the collection of the Archbishop of Salzburg, dating back to the 16th century (and all bound in vellum).

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Seeing stars (and so much more) at the Observatory

Looking north on the north campus’ main quad, one can’t help but notice the silver domes on the roof of the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS) - this is the Department of Physics Astronomical Observatory, and students, as well as members of the public, can check it out for free (during scheduled visiting hours). This is the kind of experience where you get to use one of the university’s cutting edge science facilities, and then learn a bit about the subject matter in a talk by highly-educated experts in the field; a total win-win if you ask me. For the Fall term, they’re open during two periods every Thursday - a solar observatory midday, and an evening observatory - but be sure to check the website for the latest hours and updates before visiting.

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Getting a little bit high at the Wilson Climbing Centre

I’m someone who really likes to keep fit, and having access to so many great facilities (and programming) on campus really helps me maintain my active lifestyle. The Wilson Climbing Centre, prominently located along 87th ave next to the Hanson Fitness and Lifestyle centre - offers a bit of a break from my usual workout routine - indoor high-wall climbing and bouldering. If tying in, swinging leads, and getting gripped all sound like familiar phrases to you, the staff there should be able to sort out a belay check for you and your partner(s) and have you climbing on. If you’ve never been rock climbing or grabbed plastic before, you can take a variety of courses, and rent any gear you need, to get you set up and enjoying this great way to have fun and stay in shape.

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Walking through the Geoscience Garden

Won’t you walk with me, through the…Geoscience Garden? Or you actually don’t have to walk with me, you can check it out at your own convenience at any time as it’s located on the north edge of north campus along Saskatchewan Drive. Personally, I’ve visited the Geoscience Garden for a number of reasons - you can learn about the different varieties of rocks present in western Canada (each rock has a small plaque identifying it), but it’s also a peaceful place to study, read, or catch up with a friend in-between or after classes. As someone who doesn’t have a background in geology, a bit of mindful time in this space really opened my eyes to the differences between the different types of rocks - and it’s extra fun that you can touch, feel, and sit on them!

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Checking out a show (and maybe meeting the artist) at the FAB Gallery

Coming in and out of the LRT station entrance beside HUB mall, it’s pretty hard to miss the brown monolith that is the Fine Arts Building. There’s another reason you shouldn’t miss FAB though - the excellent shows, which rotate regularly, at the building’s gallery. The shows are a great way to intellectually engage with some local art, and often see what undergraduate or graduate students in the Fine Arts program are doing. Personally I’ve always found regular visits to the space, both brief and lingering, to be stimulating and very, very worthwhile.

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Maybe you knew about these, or maybe there’s something new for you. You might find the time to experience at least one of these over the coming months, on your own or with a friend. I really appreciate the U of A as a physical place, and hope that if you don’t already, you might after partaking in these or other experiences on one of the university’s campuses.

Jeremy Cherlet

About Jeremy

Jeremy is in his first year of a MA in Communications and Technology (MACT) at the U of A. When he's not writing a paper or reading a book, you can find him on some of Edmonton's river valley trails. In Jeremy's free time he likes to head to the mountains and see where his skis will take him.