Simon Fraser University (SFU) is one of Canada’s most prestigious public research institutions. It is also an integral part of the British Columbia and Vancouver cultural landscape. Although the university is quite young compared to other universities at only 50 years old, it has managed to cultivate quite a legacy and an intense loyalty from its alumni, faculty and surrounding neighbors.
To celebrate the vivacious spirit surrounding SFU and its beloved position within the metro Vancouver community, here are three incredible facts that you may not have known about the school:
- Students and Faculty Have Run of Their Own Mountain and Their Own City
SFU is built atop Burnaby Mountain, overlooking the Burnaby and Vancouver skylines. Right next to the campus sits the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, boasting more than 860 acres of wilderness covered in pines and crisscrossed with hiking and mountain biking trails.
The view is so spectacular that students can see the Festival of Light fireworks display in English Bay all the way from Centennial Park. Burnaby Mountain’s elevation is also such that precipitation that falls as rain in Burnaby frequently turns into snow around the SFU campus, inviting impromptu tobogganing even into late spring.
Sharing the mountain with SFU and the conservation area is UniverCity, a sustainable modern city first conceived of back when SFU was founded in 1965. UniverCity is home to over 3,000 people. It recently had its own elementary school constructed for the sake of married faculty and students living in the area’s SFU real estate properties. A number of shops and businesses also provide services to the local community members, including meeting grocery shopping needs.
- SFU Is Currently the Only Canadian School in the NCAA
The U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association is home to many legendary sports teams such as the University of Southern California’s Trojans and Ohio State University’s Buckeyes. Now, these schools can count SFU’s Clan among their ranks since they joined the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2011.
This induction marks the very first time that a non-US school was admitted to the NCAA. While the Clan has hardly had a glorious win-loss record since then, Olympic gold medalist alumni like the freestyle wrestlers Carol Huynh and Daniel Igali set a promising trend for athletic seasons to come.
- An SFU Student Successfully Invented Their Own Holiday
When student Todd Wong was asked to help coordinate the University’s annual Robbie Burns celebration in 1993, he noticed that the Chinese New Year fell only two days later. As a tongue-in-cheek gesture, he created the “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” event that was a play on the traditional Cantonese New Year’s greeting “gung hay fat choy.”
Wong, now self-christened “Toddish McWong,” began a dinner among friends in 1998 that turned into a fundraiser dinner for the SFU dragon boat racing team in 1999. Fast forward to now, and CBC broadcasts a Leo Award-winning Gung Haggis Fat Choy holiday special every year while university students participate in all manner of ridiculous festival events from human curling to eating haggis wontons.
If you are a current or aspiring member of the SFU community, we hope that you can appreciate these facts as much as we did. Students and faculty who want to get their bearings in the area and learn more about the community that surrounds it can visit our SFU information portal, which includes local SFU real estate listings for your perusal.
Meta desc: To celebrate the vivacious spirit surrounding SFU and its position within metro Vancouver, here are three incredible facts that you may not have known.