All hail Traill, the college on the hill

Scott House, Traill College.
Pictured: Scott House

Whether you are new, or a returning to Trent, the university’s traditional network of colleges may be somewhat of a mystery. Trent was created in 1964 as a fully-formed collegiate university. Unlike other new universities of the era, Trent featured a Master Planning Architect (Ron Thom) and enjoyed over two years of preparation before the first shovels hit the ground.

Originally, over a dozen colleges were anticipated to serve as small residential communities where students, staff and faculty could live, study and socialize. In the end, two colleges would be built downtown with an additional four colleges were constructed on the main campus. Today, we turn to Traill, Trent’s oldest remaining downtown college.

For over 50 years, Traill College has offered Trent University students a safe, interdisciplinary space to study or relax. The College has forged a unique identity and its alumni are fiercely loyal, including several prominent politicians, screen writers, professors, teachers, scientists and a Nobel Prize laureate. Traill became fully co-ed in the 1970s, yet at the heart of Trent’s first female college remains a feminist soul.

The College is named after the renowned nineteenth-century author and naturalist Catharine Parr Traill, whose optimistic Life in the Backwoods of Canada offers a much different vision of early Canada than sister Suzanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush (1852).

Its original five buildings (Scott House, Langdon House, Stewart House, Crawford House and Wallis Hall) are all named after prominent women from the Peterborough community. The original intent behind the College was to give women their own unique and welcoming space to pursue higher education. Today, Traill remains a place for alternative discourses and ideas, a refuge from the mainstream and an intellectual oasis.

In the early 1960s, the Peterborough community rallied around Trent University. Every factory owner, every union member, every citizen in the region was informed of the benefits that an institution of higher education could provide.

In response, the community offered Trent overwhelming moral and financial support. Traill College continues to foster a strong connection with the community that made the university possible. From its halls (named after prominent Peterborough citizens) to hosting important programs like Continuing Education and the Trent Centre (for Community-Based Research), Traill continues to welcome and serve the downtown community.

Since 2008, Traill has been Trent’s only graduate college. Not only are all graduate students members of the College, the M.A. programs in history, Theory, Culture and Politics, Public Texts (English) as well as the Cultural Studies PhD program are all based at Traill. The new School for the Study of Canada, with its Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies and undergraduate Canadian Studies program, also call the College home.

While an important graduate space, Traill has remained popular with undergraduates who live downtown. In addition to Canadian Studies, the undergraduate English and Cultural Studies programs are based at the College. Undergraduates, in their upper years at Trent, can apply to become an official Traill member and should contact me for further details if they are interested.

The College has much to offer graduate and undergraduate students alike. There is a spacious computer lab, printer and photocopying facilities. The entire College has WIFI that can be accessed from comfortable spaces such as the JCR and SCR (Junior and Senior Common Rooms). In Wallis Hall, there are vending machines and an ATM.

The Trend pub, where you can use your FlexDollars, serves some of the tastiest and most inexpensive meals at Trent. This fall, counseling and academic skills assistance will be returning to the College. Deb Nichols, the College Assistant, remains in the office to help with student and staff inquiries. The College also sponsors various departmental events and develops its own unique programming including College dinners, Pizza Fridays, trivia nights and hosting the annual Traill Visiting Fellow.

As principal, it is my job to be knowledgeable of the university’s operations and services. I can either offer assistance, or direct you to the staff best-suited to deal with the particular challenge you may be facing. My door is open to all students, regardless of their college affiliation.

For five decades, Traill has been a beloved, alternative space for Trent students. Whether you are a graduate, or undergraduate, drop by for a visit, or stay for a bit longer after your classes. Come discover Traill and see why the College on the Hill is praise worthy.