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University Facilities, Departments, and Faculties

Athabasca Hall Cooks Emergency slide at St Stephen?s College

With depleted staff and student numbers, many of the University’s buildings were taken over by the war effort. In 1941, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) took over the University’s three residences plus the Education Building (Normal School) for housing and training and the Navy took over St Joseph’s College. Marching bands, parades, and drills were generally conducted outside. A large Drill Hall was built in 1942.

Reg Lister, Superintendent of Residences, wrote of this time in his memoir My Forty-Five Years on the Campus:

During the Airforce occupation, I was on loan to the Dominion Government as a Barrack Warden, and was responsible for all property including the Normal. Every second week we had an intake and output of from 150 to 200 men, as the Courses came in and were posted away. With double-decker bunks in every room. the highest number we had in residence was 1,200.

In cafeteria style, we fed 600 airmen at a time in Athabasca Dining Hall, each “shift” taking twenty minutes. The Officers’ Mess was in Pembina Dining Room. The university was supplying meals at a contract rate, with the Dietician, Miss Ruth Eager, supervising the catering.

At night the airmen studied navigation and plotting on tables in the gymnasium, under the supervision of their officers.

Canadian Officers Training Corps Inspection University of Alberta Navy Training, Machinery

A department and a school were raised to Faculty status during the war years. In 1942, the College of Education became a Faculty with Dr Milton Ezra LaZerte as its Dean and the School of Dentistry became the Faculty of Dentistry in 1944 with Dr Hamilton as its first Dean.

Two new departments were formed during the war. Under the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Department of Fine Arts was created so that in addition to literature, music, painting, and drama were recognized. Experts and researchers were required in the petroleum industry, so the Department of Chemical Engineering was created and integrated with the Faculty of Engineering.

After the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the United States joined the war effort. A further threat to American sovereignty was an invasion attempt on the outer islands of Alaska in 1942. Edmonton became the Americans' staging area for construction of the Alaska Highway. Canadian and American personnel were deeply involved in its construction. University of Alberta engineers were not only active in construction of the Alaska Highway, but they also gave special courses in electronics for naval and air personnel.

In cooperation with the Canadian Legion and the Canadian Association for Adult Education, the Department of Extension worked through the Department of National Defence to provide a series of courses for men in Military District 13. Extension also provided correspondence courses to individuals transferred to other bases in Canada and overseas.

Women's War Services Education Building

The Canadian government made liberal plans to assist returning soldiers. With Japan’s surrender in 1945, Canadian authorities demobilized soldiers who could prove they were eligible to enter a university.

The University of Alberta was packed; classroom space, laboratories, and housing were in short supply. Extra teaching staff had to found. Army huts were erected. The Drill Hall provided some room as did the recently evacuated Education Building. Pre-matriculation schools assisted veterans so they could take courses that would allow them to meet university entry requirements.

Government programs helped returning veterans purchase land and build homes.

The Faculty of Arts and Science drew up a new type of curriculum in 1945. The Faculty of Education became responsible for training primary and secondary teachers.

Medicine and medical care were also highly rated endeavours. In 1945, Pauline Hunter wrote “Colonel Mewburn”, which was about a newly constructed pavilion named after a prominent surgeon:

A fitting memorial to the late Colonel Mewburn, is the new Mewburn Memorial Pavilion which was officially opened February 22. The new hospital is built along clear-cut lines of simple beauty. The building is laid on the plan of a giant 'H' with the two long parts of the letter running parallel to 112th Street. The beauty of this plan lies in the fact that a more compact building is obtained with an abundance of light for every room. The new Pavilion is connected with the University Hospital by a long underground corridor which is thermostatically heated and air-conditioned. Opening off this corridor, and with an additional direct entrance, is the Admitting Ward. Here the patients exchange their uniforms for hospital garb before being taken to the wards. The remainder of the ground floor makes up the Physical Medicine Department. Uncompleted as yet, this promises to be one of the finest departments of its kind in the West. One part of the department will be devoted to Electro and Hydro Therapy, while the other and larger part is to be used for Occupational Therapy. In this latter department, machines will be provided to develop any muscle of the injured soldier's body - for example, a man whose abdominal muscles are flaccid following a shrapnel wound, will be put to work at a loom, which will gradually restore the use of the affected muscles, while at the same time giving him a healthy outlet in useful activity.

The Medical Building received an addition in 1948.

New Soldiers Wing, Mewburn Pavilion

Construction of the Students’ Union Building began in 1948. The University moved the Drill Hall to 87 Avenue to make room for the Students’ Union Building.

Until his passing in 1947, Dr Donald Cameron guided the growth of the Department of Extension and the Banff School of Fine Arts.

During the 1950s, the University had a period of expansion. Various Faculty buildings were constructed, student enrollment grew, and the University had a new President and Chancellor.

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