The 1988 Winter Olympics

The 1988 Winter Olympics was held in Calgary from February 13-28, and the university was a part of that transformative history of the city, with architecture within campus grounds harkening back to the past. One of these is McMahon Stadium, a 10-15-minute walk (depending on where you’re coming from within the main campus) along University Drive south of campus, where the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies were held. This is also where the UofC Dinos Football Team, as well as the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders, play their home games.

Closer to the heart of university is the Olympic Oval, dubbed the “Fastest Ice in the World” due to numerous athletes breaking both world and Olympic ice skating records in the venue. Maintaining near-perfect ice conditions is integral to such testaments of human feats; a world-class infrastructure, indeed!

Artworks also remind of 1988, such as the relief sculpture “Brothers of the Wind” by Robert Tait McKenzie, found by the Oval’s staircase. The design is inscribed on the golden rings awarded to athletes who set a world record in the Oval.

Facing towards the Oval, the doors to your right leading outside is where what other students might tell you as the “Paperclip,” but actually called the “Spire” (impress them with this knowledge!), can be found. It was made by Charles Boyce and commissioned for the games. Not coincidentally, the structure’s height is 1,988 centimetres. 

Though this tour won’t lead you to them, the residence buildings were also part of the athletes’ village, with Rundle, Kananaskis, Olympus, and Glacier (the last two specifically built for the games) serving as housing. More recently, these residences also served as emergency housing for the 2013 Calgary floods and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires.

Lastly, leading to your next location, there’s the Olympic Arch made by Colette Whiten and Paul Kipps and designed by Jack Diamond, which was initially installed at City Hall, then moved to its current home at the Quad by Kinesiology A. To get there, head back the way you went, passing by the Jack Simpson Gym and the Fitness Centre (which will now be to your left). Before you enter the Kinesiology B-MSC hallway connection (and before you pass the tree that will slightly be to your right), turn right and follow the comparatively narrower pathway to Kinesiology A until you reach the Active Living Information Desk. Facing it, to your left will be doors that lead outside, and right across will be the arch.