The Collegiate Way: Residential Colleges & the Renewal of University Life  ‹collegiateway.org›

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Trent University Colleges, Peterborough, Ontario

Trent University in Canada was established in the 1960s as a collegiate university from the beginning. Sometimes called “Oxford on the Otonabee” from the river which passes through the main part of the campus, Trent is made up today of Catharine Parr Traill College, Champlain College, Lady Eaton College, Otonabee College, and Gzowski College. People familar with Morse College and Ezra Stiles College at Yale University will recognize the architectural inspiration those residential colleges provided to the designer of Champlain College, Ronald Thom. Lady Eaton College, adjacent to Champlain and also built by Thom, has wonderfully scaled buildings and its architectural configuration merits study by anyone planning residential colleges today. Traill College, one of Trent’s founding colleges, is made up of a collection of lovely old homes in downtown Peterborough. These informal photos by Robert O’Hara were taken during a speaking visit to Trent. For more information about the residential colleges please visit the main Collegiate Way page.

[Trent University entrance sign with the history of its first colleges]

Trent University entrance sign with the history of its first colleges: Robinson (1964), Traill (1964), Champlain (1967), and Lady Eaton (1968).

[Champlain College along the banks of the Otonabee]

Trent University’s Champlain College along the banks of the Otonabee River. The principal buildings surround a grassy courtyard that opens onto the river itself. Eero Saarinen’s Morse College and Stiles College at Yale University served as architectural insprations for Champlain’s design.

[A section of the Champlain College courtyard]

A section of the Champlain College courtyard. Small half-open courtyards off the main lawn help to maintain an intimate scale.

[The dining hall of Champlain College]

The dining hall of Champlain College. Although modern in style, Champlain’s dining room is a classic residential college “great hall” with a raised platform at one end suitable for concerts and performances, and with ground-level windows offering a view of the Otonabee River.

[A dining hall podium with the coat of arms of Lady Eaton College]

A dining hall podium with the coat of arms of Lady Eaton College at Trent University.

[The Lady Eaton College courtyard]

The Lady Eaton College courtyard. Again, although the style is modern, the scale is human and intimate, and perfectly suited to the collegiate way of living.

[The Lady Eaton College dining hall]

The Lady Eaton College dining hall. The windows look out into the courtyard seen in the previous photo.

[Swift House, one of the buildings of Catharine Parr Traill College]

Swift House, one of the buildings of Catharine Parr Traill College at Trent University. There is no reason a residential college must have a single architectural style. A collegiate society can make itself at home in any collection of associated buildings as long as they are linked together socially into a unified whole.

[The Traill College junior common room]

The Traill College junior common room, a home-like spot complete with fireplace and small piano.

[The dining hall in Catharine Parr Traill College]

The dining hall in Catharine Parr Traill College. A perfect place to spend Sunday afternoon talking with friends.


© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2014