A Peek into the Past: Explore the History of Wyckham House and SAMRU
It’s Throwback Thursday, and we’re going back in time through the SAMRU archives to explore some history of the Students’ Association and Wyckham House!
A students’ council has existed at Mount Royal for over 100 years now, since the time the institution opened its doors in 1911. This makes us the second-oldest student government in Alberta!
In 1966, Mount Royal College became a public post-secondary institution. The students decided to officially incorporate under the Alberta Societies Act, and a year later, in 1967, the Students’ Association of Mount Royal College (SAMRC) was born.
In September 2009, Mount Royal College officially became Mount Royal University, and following that the Students’ Association of Mount Royal College became the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU).
Today, we have over 12,000 members, 14 volunteer Student Governing Board members, 4 full-time, elected employees on the student Representation Executive Council (REC), between 20-30 full-time staff, roughly 60 part-time staff, more than 300 volunteers each year, and an annual operating budget of over $8.1 million.
Keep reading to see the timeline of some key events surrounding the Students’ Association and Wyckham House!
Mount Royal Junior College opened its doors in downtown Calgary with 197 students in attendance. There is evidence of an elected Students’ Council starting in 1911; issues of Mount Royal College’s calendars mention that Percy Morecombe served as the Students’ Council President from 1911 to 1913.
In 1963, Robert Wyckham, a teacher at Mount Royal College, was invited by the Student Council on a retreat to Banff. On the trip, the Council members expressed their concern with their dependence on the College administration, with no space or funding of their own.
Robert Wyckham suggested that the Student Council collect an annual fee from students, which would allow them to operate in a more independent manner. This was approved by the College principal, registrar, and board, and in 1964, a portion of the fee was set aside for a building that students could call their own.
The Students’ Council received a government grant to be used for the creation of a student building. This grant, combined with funds collected from the students’ association’s activity fee, allowed students to purchase their own student centre. The first Wyckham House, named in honour of Robert Wyckham, was a two-storey house located just up the street from the downtown campus and was purchased for $21,000.
There seemed to be quite the puddle behind the original Wyckham House; this excerpt is from the 1965 Varshicom, which was the student yearbook:
The Students’ Association of Mount Royal College (SAMRC) officially incorporated under the Societies Act of Alberta. This non-profit incorporation status lasted until the Post-Secondary Learning Act of 2003.
The Lincoln Park campus opened on September 1st, 1972. When the Lincoln Park Campus opened, the Students’ Association sold the original Wyckham House and purchased the following areas in Lincoln Park, which were paid for by student fees (and therefore student-owned):
- Pool Hall & Arcade
- Hair Salon
- Council Chambers
- Radio Station
- Babysitting Room
- Reflector (which began in 1960)
The sod-turning was celebrated for the new Lincoln Park campus Wyckham House, and Robert Wyckham spoke at the event.
The construction of a completely new Wyckham House began.
Wyckham House opened with a new bar (Thirsty’s), a food court, study lounges, the Copymat, a games room, Representative Executive Council (REC) offices, and Council Chambers.
The grand opening of Wyckham House was celebrated, with Dr. Robert Wyckham in attendance.
The 10th anniversary of Wyckham House was celebrated and Dr. Robert Wyckham attended.
A $14 million expansion of Wyckham House was completed, which included bigger, brighter spaces, an updated food court, vibrant council chambers, and expanded student services.
Copywrite, the copy centre and used bookstore located in the basement of Wyckham House, closed in 2015. Prior to Copywrite there was the Copymat and Wycked Used Books (which was renamed Copywrite in 2001).
Copywrite had a Ticketmaster outlet, a Canada Post outlet, printing services, and a consignment used bookstore. There was also an Eco Store in Copywrite for a short time, which allowed students to purchase eco-friendly products, such as laundry detergent and soap.
The Students’ Association celebrated its 50th anniversary of incorporation.
If you’re looking for more information on the history of SAMRU or MRU, check out our blog post on the evolution of bars owned by the Students’ Association, and MRU’s website, Celebrating 50 Years at Lincoln Park.