1980: Place Riel opens
On 18 September 1980, the Place Riel student centre officially opened, the culmination of fifteen years of planning. Even by 1965, the Memorial Union Building which had been built in 1955 was no longer meeting “the social, cultural and recreational needs of a rapidly expanding student body.” A consultant’s study in 1965 recommended 150,000 gross square feet at a total cost of $4.7 million. In 1966, a student referendum approved an annual $12 levy to finance construction of the new student centre; this was raised to $20 in 1970.
Phase one of the construction started in 1975. A survey of students indicated that the highest priority was a theatre. Place Riel Theatre, with a seating capacity of 370, was built in the Arts Building that year. Louis’, a student pub, was also established in the upper Memorial Union Building that year – with a “real” pub planned for later. (Ultimately, these plans were achieved by moving an expanded Louis’ to the lower Memorial Union Building.)
Place Riel proper, between the Library and Qu’Appelle Hall – known as the “terminus building” – was opened in 1980. It originally included lounge space, phones, a waiting area for the bus, meeting rooms, and office space for the students’ union, Place Riel Society, Alumni Association, and the Sheaf. There was also a bank, a sundry sales store and a games area. The use of the building has evolved over the years, particularly following renovations in 1992, with lower Place Riel now being dominated by a food court.
Until 1998, when the students’ union assumed complete control, Place Riel was managed by the Place Riel Society, a board with representation from the university, students, and alumni.
1980a: Place Riel, 1980. Photograph Collection, A-6876.
The Sheaf, 18
September 1980, 30 November 1978.