Smile, you’re at X


I’ll admit it. I was totally taken with St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The campus is beautiful, the facilities are all being renovated or were recently renewed, and the people were, as one first year put it, “freakishly friendly”. I’m gushing, I know. There are so many interesting and unique features, it’s hard to know where to begin or end my ramble! But here I go…

Of the total population of 4200 students, just under 50% of the students live on campus, but virtually everyone else lives within a 2-3 minute walk, or has a home in Antigonish (55% of the students come from Nova Scotia). There are strong ties to the local community through service learning opportunities, shared use of athletic and classroom facilities, including the artificial turf and only pool in town, and experiential education opportunities in classes. For example, the department of Earth Science embeds local area studies in their coursework because the town is situated on the spot where the continents broke apart. That’s a unique claim to fame that other universities can’t boast. Another community tie to note is the Coady Institute. While not technically offering a programme of undergraduate study, it does bring in 75 community leaders from around the developing world to live, study, and interact with the campus community, and it offers internship opportunities to undergrads to do service learning in the developing world. 

By its own admission, the university is looking to create big thinkers with social awareness across the disciplines. They have a strong liberal arts focus but offer the flexibility to explore a variety of subject matter and allow students to individualize the programme to suit evolving interests. At St FX, you can study and combine areas such as business, development studies, nutrition, human kinetics, nursing, engineering…and the list goes on. I haven’t yet found out which programmes these four notable alum chose – Brian Mulroney, Seamus O’Regan of Canada AM fame, Bubbles from the Trailer Park Boys, and the chairman of the US Communist Party, Sam Webb – but the very grouping of them tells you something about the diverse nature  of the university environment.  

And, it’s only a $5 cab ride anywhere in town…


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