The Wardroom

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Our beloved campus pub  

The HMCS King’s Wardroom is a student lounge and study space by day and a lively   bar and music venue by night. The pub’s wet/dry liquor license allows students — of all ages — to enjoy the Wardroom’s social atmosphere.

The Wardroom slips effortlessly between its many roles. Over the course of a typical day, nearly everyone on campus – students, faculty, staff – stops by the Wardroom. Professors and students chat informally, societies hold meetings, games of pool are played, and students study in comfortable chairs and carry on discussions, long after class is over.

The Wardroom also features The Galley, a day-time café that offers locally-sourced food and ethically traded coffee and tea, plus Hali-famous grilled cheese and other goodies. The Galley and Wardroom are student-run businesses that employ students.

“Best Student Hang”

For three years running, readers of The Coast, Halifax’s alternative weekly, have ranked the Wardroom #1 “Best Student Hang”. Come evening, the Wardroom shifts gears. Now it’s the campus pub and a place of music – lots of it. From open mic nights to karaoke and everything in between, King’s students make music in the Wardroom nearly every night of the week. Its rich history of spawning professional musicians helped King’s finish second in a 2013 CBC national poll of the most musical campuses.

Our naval history   

The Wardroom may seem a curious touch for a liberal arts university but memorabilia like the ship’s bell and black-and-white archival photos of World War II Corvettes are more than decorative: they’re a reminder of our storied past as a Naval Officers’ Training School.

By 1941, the urgent need for qualified naval officers had outstripped available military training facilities. Universities were requisitioned into service, King’s among them. The Stadacona section of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Officer Training Establishment moved to our campus which effectively became a vessel designated HMCS Kings, a “stone frigate.”  This is the genesis of today’s favourite campus gathering place, when the Girl’s Reception Room was converted into the officers’ mess or “Wardroom.”

Close to 4,000 officers would graduate from HMCS Kings. Such was our reputation that the 1943 Hollywood film Corvette K-225, starring Randolph Scott, our King’s campus.  Check it out at the 1:25 minute mark!

The ‘sinking’ of HMCS Kings 

HMCS Kings also enjoyed brief notoriety as a wartime propaganda tool. To weaken Allied morale, the Nazis would periodically broadcast the names of ships they claimed to have sunk on the North Atlantic supply run. Naval vessels were required to keep radio silence, so no one could determine if these reports were true or false. A ruse was devised: the Allies deliberately seeded misinformation. It worked. The Nazis announced the sinking of the HMCS Kings!

In 1945, civilian life returned to campus. But our four years as HMCS Kings left an enduring impression .

Restoration and renovations 

In 1979, thanks to alumni, faculty, the King’s Students’ Union and the Nova Scotia Naval Officers’ Association, this proud link was re-established with the opening of the new HMCS King’s Wardroom. After an absence of close to 30 years, the King’s community would again “repair to the Wardroom.”

At King’s, our academic and social worlds blend seamlessly – and nowhere more easily than in the Wardroom. Whether over morning coffee or a post-theatre beer, it all comes together here: the unique ebb and flow of life and learning that makes King’s King’s.

But after 30 years of service, the Wardroom needed repair. Renovations began in 2011 and concluded in 2016.

Once more, through the generosity of students, alumni, parents, faculty and friends   Wardroom continues to be the place where we come together as a community. It’s where we decompress and renew, find friends and make memories.

One of the best moments at King’s is the random encounter. You run into someone, then you run into someone else. Ideas and gossip are exchanged. The Wardroom encourages these random encounters, which are essential features not just of our social life, but also of the intellectual life at university. It is a place where we are stimulated – to have a good time in conversation and, if everything works out well, to think.

William Barker
William Barker

President, University of King’s College , (2003-2011)