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UBC – A Piece of Vancouver’s Heritage

By Tanya Roberts

The serene setting of Point Grey, surrounded by water and far-reaching views of snow-capped mountains, is a place of natural beauty and rich history. Facing the Georgia Straight, behind what is now the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, previous generations have long stood guard.

The Musqueam band of the Point Grey area used this site as a lookout for the approaching Northern Squamish and Haida Tribes of Vancouver Island. When the enemy drew near, runners hurried back through the wooded trails to alert their fellow tribe members. The Musqueam defense would meet the aggressors head-on in war canoes. This site was also used as a place for national defense during both the first and second World Wars.

During WWI, several 60-pound field guns were positioned over-looking the sea and in WWII, three 6-inch MK7 guns were stationed. Two of these positions still remain at the site, with one serving as a memorial. The third gun was destroyed in 1973 along with the cantonment area, while two searchlight towers still remain at the beach-site. The coveted location of Point Grey is now home to the University of British Columbia.

In 1910, the University Commission recommended Point Grey for the location of the University. The Commission recognized Point Grey as an ideal educational setting due to its natural beauty and separation from the booming urban city centre of Vancouver. The commission felt that students could still benefit from access to the city centre without being affected by the city’s “wicked influence.” The University Commission’s decision was made after long deliberation.

The construction of a Provincial University could offer much economic security, and many of British Columbia’s Euro-Canadian communities were eager to welcome the University to their town. Communities including Nelson, Kamloops, Vernon, Victoria, and Alberni worked diligently to prove that their landscape was best suited for the University. Much to their disappointment, the Commission overlooked their communities in favour of the Point Grey area of Vancouver.

Today, the University of British Columbia educates a student population of 50,000 on major campuses in two cities, Vancouver and Kelowna, and holds an international reputation for excellence in advanced research and learning. In the 2008 Academic Ranking of World Universities, UBC placed 2nd in Canada and 35th in the world. The University of British Columbia is also home to the Digital Media Academy.

Founded at Stanford University in 2002, the Digital Media Academy is accredited by Stanford Continuing Studies. The curriculum consists of over 40 different 5-day courses for children, pre-teens, teens, and adults throughout the summer. On par with University of British Columbia standards, Digital Media Academy instructors are highly respected, award-winning artists, filmmakers, master teachers, and other creative professionals.

From game Design and 3D Modeling, to Video Production and Digital Storytelling, the Digital Media Academy is doing it’s part to pass the torch to future generations. The Digital Media Academy is now accepting registrations for youth-centric 1-2 week summer programs at UBC. To view the course timetable and register, visit

UBC also boasts some of the city’s best attractions and recreation facilities, including the Museum of Anthropology, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, and forested trails in the adjacent 763-hectare Pacific Spirit Regional Park. With its surrounding beauty and first-rate academic ranking, UBC is both an ideal educational setting and fundamental facet of Vancouver’s rich heritage.

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