Calgary's urban evolution

Explore 50 years of change


Fuel, grit, energy

Being Calgarian is about more than location. It's a feeling that in this place, you can build and do anything. Calgary has always been a place to "git 'er done," and together, we've been getting it done for more than 50 years.

Transforming together

As the city of Calgary has experienced exponential growth and ever-increasing diversity, so too has the university's size and makeup grown dramatically. You can see this growth and evolution everywhere you look – in the people, the landscape, the architecture and the culture. And it's all linked by a shared sense of entrepreneurialism and innovation.

1954

JUBILEE AUDITORIA ANNOUNCED FOR CALGARY AND EDMONTON

The auditoria are built on or adjacent to the campuses of University of Alberta and UAC. Jack Simpson, future namesake of the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, is involved in the construction of both auditoria. Convocation takes place at the Jubilee Auditorium until 1982.


1955

CAMPUS SITE APPROVED

City council resolution passes 99-year lease on a 348-acre site with an option to purchase. A deal is reached with the city the following year for a 30-year lease at one dollar per month.


1957

PROVINCIAL GOVERMENT PROMISES CALGARY UNIVERSITY

The university’s name is changed to University of Alberta in Calgary (UAC).


1962

RESEARCH PARK DESIGNATED

80 acres north of campus set aside for future use.

1963

LAND TRANSFER APPROVED

City approves transferring 15 acres north of campus for Geological Survey of Canada. Ottawa notifies Mayor MacEwan that plans for Geological Survey building will be drawn up after April 1, 1964. MacEwan regards this as an advancement in “consolidat[ing] Calgary as the oil capital of Canada.”


1966

FOOTHILLS HOSPITAL OPENS

Originally named Foothills Provincial General Hospital, the main building of the hospital is opened in June.

CAMPUS ARCHITECTURE UNPOPULAR

General Faculties Council resolves “That it be recorded that this Council is disquieted about the poor design of some of the Buildings on the campus, and also...the planning of the campus as a whole..."

JUST THE BEGINNING

Public Works Minister Fred Colborne predicts that after six years and $70 million invested in university construction to date, a further $250 million will be required to "round off the campus." Officials predict the student population to increase to 18,000 students by 1985.

GLENBOW MUSEUM OPENS

Eric Harvie donates an immense historical collection to the people of Alberta and the Glenbow Museum is born.

1967

CROWCHILD TRAIL OFFICIALLY OPENS

Cuts commuting time from south Calgary to the university by half.

PLANETARIUM OPENS

Officially named the Calgary Centennial Planetarium, the building eventually houses the Telus World of Science.


1968

CAMPUS MASTER PLAN UNVEILED

Department of Public Works design plan calls for "controlled variety rather than uniformity" in its architecture, campus residences with a "more intimate and domestic atmosphere," glass-enclosed "pedestrian streets," and exterior finishes made of "flamingo quartzite" or modeled or textured concrete.

EID CELEBRATED ON CAMPUS

Pakistan Canada Association observes conclusion of Ramadan with celebration at UCalgary, making Islam the first faith outside Christianity to be represented on campus.


1970

NICKLE ARTS MUSEUM CREATED

Samuel Clarence Nickle donates $1 million and a collection of numismatics (coins, paper, currency and medals) to build a museum devoted to numismatics, archaeology, art and artifacts.

1972

ASTROPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY OPENS

Originally called the University of Calgary Astrophysical Observatory, the facility is later renamed the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory after Alexander Rothney (Sandy) Cross, who donated the land for the observatory. His father was A.E. Cross, one of the Big Four ranchers who backed the 1912 Calgary Stampede.

CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION STABILIZES

After a boom of new construction, capital grants for new construction stop for nearly a decade.


1973

UNIVERSITY BUYS GARGOYLES FROM AGT

Alberta Government Telephones sells eight of the Royal Doulton-made gargoyles from the demolished Southam building (home to Calgary Herald) to the university for $1,200.


1974

CANADIAN ARCHITECTURAL ARCHIVES ESTABLISHED

Established as a joint venture between the University of Calgary Library and the Faculty of Environmental Design, with a mandate to collect the works of twentieth century Canadian architects, the Archives has emphasized the documentation of the total output of architectural firms in an attempt to provide an accurate historical profile.


1975

HEALTH SCIENCES BUILDING OPENED, FOOTHILLS HOSPITAL

Students start their program in the Health Sciences Building, the new home of the Faculty of Medicine, built adjacent to the Foothills Hospital.

FORT CALGARY CENTENNIAL

The Century Calgary committee, a citizen's group, co- ordinates the city-wide, year-long celebration. The Department of Geology participates with its Centennial Lectures series.

1980

CALGARY MUNICIPAL BUILDING APPROVED IN PLEBISCITE

Question was: “Are you in favour of the City constructing on City land its own City Government Building, to be paid for over 25 years, or are you in favour of the City continuing to rent space in privately owned buildings”?


1981

LRT SERVICE BEGINS IN CALGARY

Recognizing the importance of transit to the city’s growth, the university would later establish a chair in transportation systems.


1983

THIRD-LARGEST EMPLOYER

5% of all jobs in Calgary are supported by UCalgary, making it the third-largest employer in the city.


1987

NORTHWEST LRT OPENS

First run on September 4, 1987. The terminus is University Station. Construction involves a land swap agreement in 1985 that includes the Rainbow Bridge, repurposed in 1986 as the campus gate. In its inaugural run, Mayor Ralph Klein takes the controls, and a five-piece Dixieland band plays while dignitaries enjoy the ride.


1988

OLYMPICS TRANSFORMS CALGARY AS A CITY

Calgary hosts the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and is now home to several world-class sports facilities including the Olympic Oval, Canada Olympic Park and Nakiska Mountain Resort, and has earned a reputation as an international destination.

THE POWER OF LEARNING

City of Calgary Electric System names UCalgary the largest user of electricity in the city. The university went on to build a novel cogeneration plant to save millions in annual energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint.

2000

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION FOUND IN URBAN LAB

The Urban Lab, in the Faculty of Environmental Design, works with various levels of civic groups to address issues of common interest and conducts independent research to advance knowledge and practice related to urban design, planning and development.


2001

DIRECTOR OF CAMPUS PLANNING, WRITES LETTER TO THE HERALD

Barry Kowalsky, campus planning director, defends the university’s west campus development plans and outlines past agricultural, grazing and gravel mining uses.



2008

ROTHNEY OBSERVATORY HELPS KEEP THE SKIES DARK AT NIGHT

Foothills Municipal District propose a bylaw, the first of its kind in Alberta, to help reduce light pollution in the area surrounding the observatory. The bylaw gains support from special services such as HAWKS, the police helicopters and STARS air ambulance for safe night time operations.


2010

ALUMNUS NAHEED NENSHI ELECTED MAYOR OF CALGARY

During his time at UCalgary, Nenshi was president of the Students' Union and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree with distinction in 1993.


2011

DAY OF SERVICE INITIATIVE TAKES OFF

Students engage in a single Day of Service throughout the year and throughout Calgary by volunteering with different community groups and non-profits.

UCALGARY ANSWERS THE CALL FOR REAL ESTATE LEADERS

The Haskayne School of Business establishes the real estate studies initiative with the mission to create entrepreneurial and ethical leaders for the real estate industry.


2014

PODCAST CAPTURES THE CALGARY SPIRIT

The Alumni Peer Review Podcast is launched featuring many grads in conversation about great moments, big ideas and post-university life. Both well-known and not-so well-known grads are featured.