Information and dates in this article were provided by Brant Historical Society board member Douglas Summerhayes and also from the book Reinventing Brantford: A University comes Downtown by Leo Groarke.
For anyone new to Brantford this small town may not seem like much on the surface but if you peel back its many layers you’ll find a town so steeped in history it’s almost overwhelming. Laurier Brantford and the City of Brantford have been on a long and tumultuous journey to become what it is today, because in the start of their relations no one had faith in either a satellite campus or the town, neither did they have faith in each other. Each holding their reservations; how would a satellite campus succeed? How could they possibly resurrect a ghost town? But together they have managed to succeed in what they set out to do bringing back life into Brantford’s downtown core and creating a more intimate institution in which students can acquire their education. This is a closer look at the places you may sleep in, take classes in, study at, or frequent. Here is Laurier Brantford…
The Expositor Building: Today Expo — as the students like to call it — stands as the largest residence at Laurier Brantford. But before that building was a residence for students it was formerly the home for its namesake The Expositor, Brantford’s local newspaper. The building is 121 years old, built in 1895. The Brantford Expositor has had a hand in reporting, laminating, praising and critiquing all that goes on in this city. Recently it went on to recognize some of its most notable past employees with a series of plaques.
Carnegie Building: Carnegie building has to be one of my favourites with its grand staircase, Grecian columns and high ceilings. It’s something that could inspire stories or a place you might find in one. The Carnegie Building was named after Andrew Carnegie, who was the epitome of the “American Dream.” He worked in a factory for 1.20 a week and retired 53 years later a self-made millionaire. Carnegie Building was once a library among the 106 given to Canada as apart of Carnegie’s mission to give back his wealth. Now the building is frequented as a series of lecture rooms and study spaces for the students here at Laurier Brantford.
Odeon Building: For anyone who’s really observed the outside of the Odeon building or stepped foot into it’s main lecture room on the ground floor may have been reminded of a movie theatre. Well that’s because it was, Cineplex Odeon once owned that little space, opening its facilities on Dec. 17th, 1948, spending around 120,000 on the space, and charging 35 cents a ticket. The first film shown at The Odeon was Blanche Fury, a gothic blockbuster.
Victoria Park: Victoria Park may not have had the biggest transformation on this list but it does hold the richest history. Sometimes overlooked when in a hurry to get to the next class, Victoria Park stands in the center of it all, a witness to all that has changed in this city but still manages to encompass and reflect the essence of this city. The statue that stands in the middle of Victoria Park is of Joseph Thayendanegea Brant, a celebrated Mohawk Indigenous Chief who stood as the spokesperson for his people, a Christian missionary, and a British military officer during the American Revolution. The unveiling of the statute took place in 1886 and over twenty thousand came to watch the unveiling.
*The Sputnik in no ways means to diminish, reject, or disrespect any of the history excluded from this article due to word count. If you wish to learn more we encourage you to go out to the Brantford Public Library or reach out to the Brant Historical Society.*