You probably haven’t been here before
Area 51. Fort Knox. Disneyland’s Club 33.
The world is full of hidden, enigmatic areas of intrigue that concoct curiosity and ensnare the imagination. Would you believe, however, that our own campus is rich with its own secret places and mysterious hideaways that ignite the same kind of fascination? Come, take a tour behind the closed doors of Mount Royal University, beyond the familiar, and revel in the mysteries that lie within.
THE FILTER ROOM
The Filter Room is the place that houses all of the equipment necessary to operate Mount Royal’s saltwater swimming pool, including three massive sand filters and numerous other intricate systems. Every drop in the swimming pool passes through this room every four hours, flowing through an elaborate system that cleans and sanitizes the water.
Dubbed “The Shark Tank,” the room is said to house the pool’s pet shark, Fins of Fury (in reality, Fins of Fury is a tiny pet fish located in the pool’s office). Misbehaving swimmers are told that if they don’t smarten up, the windows will be opened and good Ole’ Fins will take care of them. Better watch out!
Situated at the deep-end of the pool, the area includes a narrow, dimly lit passageway that encircles the entire pool. This magnificent, curious corridor is where each of the underwater spotlights is serviced.
The Filter Room also features a subterranean trapdoor. The area beneath this opening floods with water while the pool is being drained: a process that takes up to eight hours.
A true gem of mystery on Mount Royal’s campus, the pool’s filter room is much more than just a mechanical storehouse: it is a room filled to the brim with fascinating facts, technology and marvel.
MYSTERIOUS THEATER SPACES
The world of theatre is a spectacular one, full of wonder and intrigue. What lurks backstage and above a theatre, out of the eager audience’s view, may surprise you. Let’s take a stroll, shall we?
We begin our tour high above the Wright Theatre, where sound; lighting and stage technicians work behind-the-scenes on every production. While actors and musicians perform on-stage, technicians operate every spotlight, cue-up every sound effect and manage each component of the production from this hidden loft.
Take a few steps down a shadowy hallway and you’ll find yourself at a room so hidden, so tucked-away within the maze of the theatre spaces, that it is generally unchartered territory even amongst those who are familiar with this hidden catwalk. This, my friends, is the mechanical room.
Although it may seem inconsequential, this is the hub of electronic components within the theatres. The beauty of this room lies in its seclusion. This is a hidden room within a covert space, a Narnia within the walls of our theatres.
Our next stop is a loft situated between the Wright and Leacock Theatres. This concrete balcony overlooks the theatre workshop, the place where every set is meticulously designed, constructed and painted.
In the room below, we find saws, drills, measuring tapes, paint, and everything else needed to turn wood into beautifully crafted sets.
Our penultimate stop on this Magical Mystery Tour is the technicians’ booth above the Leacock Theatre. Like the glass-paneled room above the Wright Theatre, this is where sound and light technicians, as well as the stage manager, produce the show.
And finally, behold, the room of infinite reflections: The Dressing Room. Located behind the Nickle Theatre, this is one of the areas where performers strive to look their best before shining for the waiting crowd outside.
The sprawling areas that lie behind, above and around Mount Royal’s theatres are often overlooked by the casual theatre fan. It is in these rooms, though, where the real magic happens, where countless hours of work and thoughtful preparation make every performance unforgettable. There’s something about hidden areas such as these, concealed just beyond familiar territory, which captivates the imagination and feeds our curiosity. There’s an entire world out there, lurking out of sight, just behind closed doors…what lies within?
THE ROOFTOP GREENHOUSE
Welcome to the room of glass. Tucked away deep within one of the science wings, Mount Royal’s expansive rooftop garden is bathed in rays of mysterious delight. Home to a vast array of plants, from sunflowers to carnivorous pitcher plants, the greenhouse is open to academics wishing to conduct research in the facility. Among several ongoing research projects, plants that will one day be a part of MRU’s community garden are being grown in the greenhouse.
Because of its intriguing location, intrinsic beauty and little-known existence amongst the student population, Mount Royal’s rooftop greenhouse is a unique and fascinating spot on campus.
Editor’s note: All the areas featured in this article are under lock and key and were accessed with permission. Many thanks to those who made this feature a possibility.