Thursday, March 24th, 2016...1:41 pm

Weird & Cool Facts about U of T

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A few weeks back, I had the chance to host a trivia night for grad students at Harvest Noon Café. First things first, if you haven’t been to Harvest Noon Café, it is high time you got your body over there and sipped some organic deliciousness in their cozy, super relaxing, and very welcoming space. I haven’t been to the café during open hours as of yet (I always seem to have those pesky things called classes going on), but the venue screams awesome. I can’t wait for a free afternoon to drag some other grads with me, so I might just see you there!

Now that we’ve taken care of that, we can get back to what we were talking about: the trivia night.

It. Was. Great.

Not only because we had a great group of students come out to join us, but also because trivia nights are just plain fun. This one was especially cool because it dug up some interesting, and probably long-forgotten, information about U of T that is funny, intriguing, and downright perplexing. Feeling like this information just HAD to be shared, I’ve compiled some of the more “makes-you-stop-and-wonder” tidbits to share with you. Happy reading, and if you come across any that I’ve missed, feel free to add them in!

Fun fact #1.

A professor at U of T invented what is probably the swankiest instrument ever: the hydraulophone. Basically, these instruments work like woodwinds, but use water instead of air to make sound.


Fun fact #2.

U of T’s art collection has 2 pieces (a tiny stone mask, and a figure) that date back to the Bronze Age…that’s 4000 years! And you can see them, for free.

Fun fact #3.

shakespeareU of T is home to Canada’s only copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, printed in 1623.  There are only 228 surviving copies, and fetch 6 million dollars at auction. I don’t know what that kind of money even looks like! But, thanks to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, I can see what the folio looks like! From now until May 28, the library is doing a celebration of the Bard’s work, so stop by and see the Folio or check out the media library on the 3rd floor of Robarts to see film adaptations of his work.

Fun fact #4.

In the 1920s, Hart House actually banned jazz and ragtime from being played on its pianos. The ban was only lifted in 1957 for the Peter Appleyard Quartet and Moe Koffman’s group. Check out the video to hear the man who brought back the music.

Fun fact #5.

NASA once asked U of T’s aerospace institute for air-pressure calculations that would ensure the safe re-entry of a capsule crippled in space. NASA gave the scientists 3 hours to do the calculations; they did it without computers, and without knowing that they were the ONLY scientists assigned to the problem. The crippled capsule in question? Apollo 13.

Fun fact #6.

After playing a concert at U of T’s Varsity Arena in 1969, an iconic popstar split from his band. Who was it? John Lennon. And here the world always blamed Yoko Ono for the Beatles splitting up.

Fun fact #7 (and perhaps my favourite)

U of T used to hold an annual winter carnival; at the carnival, a Snow Queen was picked based on some pretty unique skills. What were those skills, you ask? Why, her ability to snowshoe, saw wood, and cook pancakes over an open fire, of course!

Things like these trivia facts make me appreciate my campus a little bit more, and help me to realize that there is a whole lot of history just waiting to be discovered in the most unlikely of places. So, the next time you’re strolling down Philosopher’s Walk, or headed to Hart House for a work out, why not stop and read a plaque or two? You might just learn something cool.

Want the whole story? Check out these sites for even more info. on U of T:

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