To look at the University of Alberta campus today is to witness a site that has, over the past century, evolved from an uncultivated, craggy riverside lot to a dynamic mélange of early 20th-century brick and sandstone architecture to modern, twenty-first-century state-of-the-art facilities. Given the array of diverse buildings on the campus, it is difficult to imagine that before the first brick was laid, the University of Alberta consisted only of a small group of people bound by a unified, optimistic vision of the future.
Duggan Street School was just two years old when the University Senate held its first meeting on March 30, 1908, where it was decided that classes would begin in September of that year. The Senate, led by newly-named president Henry Marshall Tory, wasted no time in bringing its grand vision to life. Though construction of official university facilities had yet to begin, a number of students had already signed on and were eagerly waiting to begin their University of Alberta studies. The Senate authorized annual salaries ranging from $1200.00 for lecturers to $2500.00 for professors.
Well-connected, Tory traveled east to find his staff for the University’s first faculty—the Faculty of Arts and Science. In addition to his staff, Tory was prepared to teach Physics and Mathematics. He hired four men: Harvard Professor Edmund Kemper Broadus to teach English; Classicist William Hardy Alexander from University of Western Ontario; William Muir Edwards, a graduate in Engineering of McGill University and a McGill lecturer in Mathematics; and Luther Herbert Alexander to teach Modern Languages.
A temporary facility had to be found for the University.
Initially, the Strathcona Collegiate Institution, now known as Old Scona High School, was chosen, but was ruled out because it would not be officially open until 1909. Duggan Street School, now known as Queen Alexandra, was then selected so that classes, as reported by Dr William Hardy Alexander could begin September 25, 1908.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Some sources have the first classes beginning September 23, 1908.