Life at UAlberta

Secret Files: UAlberta Fun Facts

Established in 1908, UAlberta has a rich history with many fun and interesting stories to tell! Ghostly beings, mysterious tunnels, a stairwell that goes nowhere... these are just some of the intriguing tales that are part of UAlberta's past and present.


Biological Sciences buildingThe Mysterious Biological Sciences Building
This building on the north side of campus was built in 1969, and legend has it that several contractors worked on the construction of the building and disagreed on various things. As a result, rumor has it that you will find shower stalls with electrical outlets, sinks with no drains, a stairwell that goes nowhere, doors that open on to brick walls, and a very mysterious secret classroom that must be entered through a closet!


Underground Tunnels
Below campus, utility workers travel between campus buildings using 21 kilometres of bright utility tunnels, some which date back to the 1920s.
Harry Burns
Harry Burns is set on fire regularly. Fortunately, he is a mannequin used by the Protective Clothing and Equipment Research Facility (PCERF) here at the U of A. The life-sized Harry is used by researchers to test thermal protective clothing for real people.
UAlberta in the Movies
Want to see some U of A sights for yourself? Rent one of these movies!
UAlberta has appeared several times on the screen, including Running Brave (1983) starring Robbie Benson, Small Sacrifices (1989) starring Farrah Fawcett, and Angel Square (1990) with Ned Beatty. The Assassination of Jesse James, starring Brad Pitt, was filmed at Fort Edmonton Park, just minutes from UAlberta!
See what famous Hollywood celebrities have to say about Alberta!
Attending UAlberta From the Great Beyond
There are a few ghostly visitors who are rumoured to appear in certain locations on campus. One is Emily, a friendly ghost who could occasionally be spotted crossing the theatre stage in Corbett Hall. Another ghostly friend is said to live at Museums and Collections services, sometimes turning on lights and moving objects. Also, in Convocation Hall, it is rumoured that the Hall’s organ played every night during World War II with nobody at the keyboard!
Lister Hall, Y2K Proof
During the hype leading up to Y2K when everyone was expecting computer mayhem, the Canadian military declared UAlberta residence Lister Hall to be backup headquarters in case of emergency. This is mainly because Lister Hall has its own independent power source and is in a central location.
Note: Y2K passed, and nothing happened.
Secret Societies
UAlberta banned “secret societies” from campus for its first two decades, barring students from belonging to fraternities. In 1929, the ban was lifted and three women’s and two men’s fraternities were formed.
High Level Hijinks
The High Level Bridge currently stretches across the North Saskatchewan River, connecting campus to downtown. Before this bridge, however, students needed some innovative ways to get across the river to campus. In the summertime, they used a raft that ran on a cable. Once the river was frozen, they walked and drove over the ice. In 1913, the bridge was finished. Eager UAlberta students jumped the queue and became the first ones to officially cross the bridge, reportedly led by one brave student riding a donkey.

For more secret files, check out 90 Things Worth Knowing About U of A, which was the source of many of these fun stories.