Carleton: Life on campus in Canada's capital


Layne Davis, 21
Journalism and Political Science

Truth be told, I came to Carleton for the journalism program, and because, as a Torontonian, I couldn’t handle living in a city any smaller than Ottawa. In fact, my initial tour of Carleton left me underwhelmed. Then I grew to love the place.

Carleton is developing at a rapid pace, with an expanded gym, renovated library, and now a new parking garage under construction. Lying between the canal and the Rideau River, the modern buildings dilute the bite of yesteryear’s brutalist architecture, making it an orgy of trees, glass and concrete.

Campus can feel cut off from the rest of the city, since most of it is surrounded by water and parkland. Amenities aren’t just a short walk away. Thankfully, Carleton is a public transportation hub, accessible from most parts of the city, though not without backlog during rush hour. The first and last couple of weeks of each semester are particularly ruthless, since that’s when most people feel obligated to attend class.

We do not have much institutionalized school spirit, and many students commute from their family homes. Yet campus remains diverse and busy with a real sense of community, especially in residence and the small, more tight-knit programs such as the humanities and international business. Carleton students are engaged in campus life, even if flaunting school colours and getting sloshed at homecoming aren’t a necessity.

Campus politics are a big deal at Carleton. The school’s network of activists, student politicians and journalists form a microcosm of the political sphere. This is a source of entertainment and exasperation for those who observe from afar, but it’s also a great avenue for students to become involved. Just watch what you tweet.

City Vibe
I always feel that Ottawa is on the verge of something great. Whether it’s the city’s microbrewing industry, local food movement, or the burlesque, poetry and independent music scenes, Ottawa is making moves. The best way to experience what Ottawa has to offer is by integrating in the community. Sure, the Byward Market and the city’s various festivals are worth experiencing, but, after the bureaucrats head home and as tourists mill about monuments and dine at CAA-approved restaurants, there exists a young, vibrant, distinctly Ottawan culture. Exploring this city will make it your new home.

The Skinny
To figure out what’s happening in the city, Apt 613’s events calendar has you covered. Check it out at