The Rich History of The Great Trek

The UBC REC events we know and love all hold significant history and unique qualities. One of such events that holds a rich history and represents the University’s early days is the Great Trek. The Great Trek is happening Saturday October 27th and is an eight kilometre run or relay race. This event has not always been about athleticism and having fun, so read on to discover this history of UBC’s Great Trek. 


Image from UBC Library

Recently, my Uncle started telling me about a race they used to run when he attended UBC, a race run as a relay from the old site of UBC near Vancouver General Hospital to Point Grey. He asked if we still had this race to which I responded that I had never heard of it. After doing some research I found out that the event he was talking about was known as the Arts ’20 Relay. The Arts ’20 Relay began in 1920 as a brand new event at UBC and as the initial campaign movement toward the new site of UBC at Point Grey.

Image from UBC Library

The University of British Columbia at Fairview was founded in 1915 and grew rapidly in its first seven years. Building was minimal at UBC and the Government had ceased the building of the area of Point Grey. Despite a great feeling of hope surrounding the creation of this new institution, the quick expansion made obvious the necessity for more adequate facilities at UBC. Students began a campaign in 1922 to encourage the building of more classrooms and facilities for the university.
The student’s petition for signatures began at the start of the school year, September 1922 and by the week of October 22-29, they had reached 56,000 signatures, collected from residents of Vancouver in support of more suitable building at UBC. During this same week, the students embarked on a “Great Trek” through Downtown Vancouver and ended up at Point Grey. After the march took place, the petition and signatures were presented to the Cabinet in Victoria and the continuing of building on Point Grey was approved. The students were successful.
The athletic event happening tomorrow is the culmination of the legacy of the Arts ’20 Relay and the history of the “Great Trek” march through Vancouver. It represents these students campaign for a bigger and better UBC!
Good Luck Runners!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.