Volume 23, Number 1, Spring 2006

So, Just How Old are Writing Centres in Canada?

Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier

St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS

wkraglun@stfx.ca

In 2005-2006, the St. Francis Xavier University Writing Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary. In its first year of operation, one staff member worked 15 hours per week and shared a room and a closet in the campus meal hall. Throughout the years, much like many other Canadian writing centres, the Writing Centre at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia has survived growing pains, space issues, Senate debates, and budget cutbacks and has launched new programs and has reached as many students as they could. Now, during the regular academic year, six contracted professionals and one secretary join the full-time coordinator and writing centre instructor. Over each of the past few years, instructors have worked with approximately 10% of the student body at least once, and have conducted over 3500 appointments per year, plus in-class information sessions, workshops open to the entire student body, and three programs: eXcel, the voluntary transition program for first-year students; APEX, the mandatory program for students on academic probation; and LEAP, the voluntary program for students whose first language is not English.

Despite the activity in the Centre, many faculty and students seemed surprised when we hosted our 10th birthday bash during International Writing Centre Week in February 2006. We were asked how old we were in relation to the other writing centres in Canada. For the answer, I posted the question to the CASLL listserv. The reaction from other writing centres was immediate. The following is a compilation of the responses received from 23 centres. Special thanks are sent to Betsy Sargent for her work in this as well! If there are errors or omissions, please contact me.

According to Henry David Thoreau, "None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." Based on the activity on the CASLL listserv, on the scholarship that is emerging from writing centres across Canada, and on the creation of the Canadian Writing Centre Association, we're all still very young!

Writing Centre

Year Established

1.

York University

1970s

2.

University of Toronto ( Innis & Woodworth College, now 14 sites)

1972 "ish"

3.

Dalhousie University

1974

4.

University of Calgary

1978

5.

University of New Brunswick ( Fredericton)

1978

6.

University of Toronto SC Writing Lab

1978

7.

McGill University

1978-1980

8.

Carleton University

1980s

9.

Atkinson's ( York)

1983

10.

University of New Brunswick ( Saint John)

1983

11.

Simon Fraser University

1987 (dismantled 1999), restructuring now!

12.

Memorial University

1984

13.

University of Winnipeg

1988

14.

University of British Columbia

1992

15.

St. Francis Xavier University

1995

16.

University of Toronto Engineering Communication Program

1995

17.

University of Saskatchewan

1995 "ish"

18.

Thompson Rivers (formerly University College of the Caribou)

1996

19.

University of Western Ontario

1996

20.

Sir Wilfred Laurier

1997

21.

Huron University College's Writing Centre ( University of Western Ontario)

1999

22.

University of Ottawa

1999

23.

St. Mary's University

2002

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