Whether students choose to commute to campus or live nearby, becoming familiar with a new city is both an exciting and a nerve-racking experience, especially if it’s far from home. Prior to beginning the university application and registration process, it’s likely that many new students had never visited Brantford before. Some probably hadn’t even heard of Brantford. Although it is certainly modest in size, Brantford is a city with tons of character and a true community feel. And, with a campus embedded in the centre of the city’s budding downtown community, Laurier Brantford offers new students a unique, personalized experience. No matter what you’re into, we’ll guarantee you’ll find it in Brantford.

A hotbed for Aboriginal history dating back to the 17th century and a booming industrial centre during the early 1900s, Brantford boasts culturally rich landmarks and landscapes that are a must-visit for any history buff. Simply take a stroll along the Grand River (designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1994) and you’ll be sure to stumble across a landmark sign or catch sight of a historical building. Even if you’re not an avid historian, the Grand is still yours to explore. Scenic trails and paths along the river are ideal for walkers, joggers and cyclists alike, and the river itself is a popular destination for canoeists and kayakers from April to October of each year.

For those who are into the arts scene, the Brantford Arts Block is just steps from campus. Located on Dalhousie St., the Arts Block is a local non-profit arts organization that seeks to foster creative talent of all sorts in a community-focused environment. Here, visitors can attend exhibitions and performances, and artists can find workspace and even sell their handmade wares at the Arts Block gift shop. The organization even offers classes and workshops, open to creative souls of all levels and skill types.

If you’re still wary of finding your niche while away at university, don’t be. Come to Brantford with an open mind and a willingness to explore, and there’s no doubt that you’ll stumble across something that interests you, no matter which direction you choose to head. It’s impossible to wander very far from one of the main campus buildings without coming across a trendy restaurant, passing through a spacious park or coming face-to-face with an historic building (including Laurier Brantford’s own Carnegie Hall, which originally opened in 1904 as the Brantford Public Library). Brantford has much to offer if you’re willing to look. Not sure where to start? Just ask. Ask your peers about their favourite rainy-day destinations or the best place to hold a lunchtime study session. If you’d like to learn more about the community through volunteerism, don’t be afraid to approach local organizations, many of which regularly take on Laurier Brantford students to volunteer in a variety of different areas, from assisting in community centres to helping organize local events.

“To include Laurier students has always been part of our plan,” says Mary Derbyshire, chair of Doors Open Brant, a day-long event that takes place each year in Brantford and is completely free to the public.

The event highlights various sites around Brantford that are of interest from an historic or cultural perspective. Each site will feature unique programming, including live music and guided tours. Scheduled to take place on September 25, 2010, it’s just one example of the many opportunities available for students to meet others and learn more about Brantford.

For more information on local events, activities and attractions in and around Brantford, visit www.discoverbrantford.ca, or call the Tourism Brantford hotline at (519) 751-9900.

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