About the Fort Garry Campus

The Fort Garry Campus is 279 hectares (690 acres) in size. It is situated in the southernmost portion of Winnipeg, approximately 13 kilometres south from Downtown, in an area characterized by suburban neighbourhoods generally built between the 1950s and 2000s. The Red River forms the eastern edge of the campus, while Pembina Highway, a major traffic thoroughfare and commercial corridor, sits along the western edge of the campus.

Beginnings, 1877 - 1909
The University of Manitoba was established in 1877 as a “Provincial University” to confer degrees from three denominational colleges: St. Boniface College (Roman Catholic), St. John’s College (Anglican), and the Manitoba College (Presbyterian). In 1892 the University Charter was changed to allow the University to teach. After nearly a decade of uncertainty, the University’s first building was completed on the newly acquired land along Broadway Avenue in 1901 (present-day Memorial Provincial Park).

In 1903, the Manitoba Agricultural College was established as a “separate and distinct” institution from the University of Manitoba under direction of a Provincially appointed Royal Commission. Three years later several buildings were constructed on a 47-hectare (117-acre) property in the Tuxedo neighbourhood (current site of the Asper Jewish Community campus). The University and the Agricultural College amalgamated in 1907, and a new Medical College building was also constructed on Bannatyne Avenue near the General Hospital.

The Question of “Where” Continues, 1910 - 1929
In 1910, an offer put forward by the Tuxedo Park Company for a 61-hectare (150-acre) university site near the Agricultural College was accepted. However, the Agricultural College concluded that it needed more land, and relocated to the St. Vital area where the provincial government had just purchased 231 hectares (570 acres). Construction began in St. Vital at the site of the current Fort Garry campus – land was cleared in 1911 and the Agriculture College’s first buildings were completed by 1912.

With the University unwilling to permanently locate at the original Broadway site, and the provincial government unwilling to provide money for new university buildings on the Tuxedo site, the Province offered 55 hectares (137 acres) of land between the new Agricultural College and the Red River (the present-day Point Lands). This offer was accepted in 1913. In 1919, the University’s Board of Governors decided on Tuxedo as the permanent site. The Provincial Premier agreed to this in 1921, offering new grants for the construction of University buildings. As a result, the present-day Canadian Mennonite University building was constructed on the Tuxedo site.

However, a newly elected provincial government in 1922 appointed a Royal Commission that recommended the University join the Agricultural College at its location on the present-day Fort Garry site. The eventual decision to move to Fort Garry did not sit favourably with the Tuxedo developers who sued the University for failing to honour their initial agreement.

The debate over where to locate the university continued and as lawyers argued, the students had no choice but to remain in makeshift buildings. Their dissatisfaction with “having to work in ‘cowsheds’…reached a comic note in 1929 when they took a cow up to the second floor of the Old Law Courts Building and tied it to the door of the University Library” (Source: From Rural Parkland to Urban Centre: One Hundred Years of Growth at the University of Manitoba, 1877-1977, p. 8).

Also in 1922, the Avenue of Elms along Chancellor Matheson Road was planted as a living memorial to commemorate members of the Agricultural College who lost their lives for their country in World War I. The memorial was eventually extended to include students and staff who lost their lives in World War II and the Korean War.

Resolution and a New Beginning, 1930 - 1950
The 1930s were an important decade for new building construction at the Fort Garry campus, as the Arts (Tier) and Science (Buller) buildings were constructed as unemployment relief projects during the Depression years.

With the outbreak of World War II, Taché Hall (the University’s main residence) was converted into a navigation school. The Canadian Army constructed a series of temporary huts in the southern corner of the campus along with a drill hall and indoor rifle range. In 1945, the use of Taché Hall was restored to the University, and the temporary buildings were converted into classrooms and labs to address the influx of war veterans returning as students. Temporary housing was constructed for returning veterans, although it was destroyed in the flood of 1950.

Growth and Modernism, 1951 - 1970
The 1950s was a period of renewed growth, aided by a growing economy and the relocation of the major college divisions to the Fort Garry campus. To accommodate the relocation of undergraduate students from the downtown location, numerous new services and buildings were developed, notably the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, the Agricultural Research building, and further expansion of the Engineering building. The new development of this period also began to expand out from the traditional central core of the campus. Increased building construction in the 1960s generally conformed to the existing pedestrian orientation of the campus. The Pan-American Games of 1967 also spurred new development, particularly the construction of University Stadium, an athletic field, and new athletic facilities. Campus planning during this era called for a compact clustering of central campus buildings, with vehicular traffic restricted to the periphery.

In the 1970s, the compact nature of the campus was transformed to accommodate student and faculty service demands. The result was a more sprawling and spread out campus. Funding diminished in the early 1980s, resulting in a period of reduced construction, although the Max Bell Centre was built in 1981. Economic constraints continued into the mid-1990s, punctuated by the development of the Investors Group Athletic Centre in 1998, built to accommodate the Pan-American Games of 1999.

The Contemporary Context, 2000 - 2012
Within approximately the last decade the University has seen a new period of growth and change with several new projects underway: a new sports stadium – Investors Group Field – is currently under construction and will hold over 33,500 people. ARTlab is a new building housing the University’s School of Art, and is adjacent to Taché Hall, which is being renovated and expanded to provide a new and centralized location for the Faculty of Music (including a large new auditorium). With the re-opening of the Campus Planning Office in 2011, there is also a renewed focus on the spatial quality and planning of the campus.