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5 things you (probably) didn't know about UBC

From Christmas trees to apple trees, here are some UBC fun facts.
Clockwise from top left: A christ mas tree, a blue whale skeleton, a grove of apple trees, and a seagull.

With classes back in session at schools across Vancouver and Canada at large, it seems like a good time to learn something about what is Vancouver's most famous educational institute.

UBC's path to one of the top universities in the world has taken over 100 years, but it's regularly ranked highly on a global lists.

But these facts have pretty much nothing to do with the school's reputation and instead the focus is more on trees than degrees.

1. UBC has a Christmas tree farm

The UBC Forestry Undergraduate Society founded a Christmas tree farm in 2006 and it's still going. Each holiday season trees from the farm are sold to raise money for the society and charities.

"We pride ourselves in growing high quality, no spray Christmas trees using environmentally safe and responsible techniques and methods," notes the website.

2. Several apple trees on campus are descended from the one of Isaac Newton fame

Isaac Newton was a young man when the idea of gravity came to him. He often told a story of what inspired his theories, wherein he watched an apple fall from a tree in a garden where he lived.

That garden was well known, it was at Woolsthorpe Manor where he grew up, and so knowing which tree he was referring to was easy enough.

Over the years, due to the original's fame, its offspring have been tracked and in 1971 two saplings where brought to Vancouver and planted at TRIUMF, one of Canada's leading physics labs.

3. It has Canada's largest blue whale skeleton

There are only 21 blue whale skeletons on public display in the world, and only a few of those in Canada, which is why "Big Blue" is so special.

The skeleton of a 26-meter-long female blue whale was buried near the PEI town of Tignish (whales are buried sometimes in an effort to preserve the skeleton while letting the squishy bits decompose).

In 2007 the skeleton was checked on and in 2008 it was unburied properly and sent by train to Victoria, where they were cleaned up before coming to Vancouver in 201.

4. It has a seed library you can borrow from

The seed lending library at UBC does exactly what it says on the can.

"The Seed Lending Library allows anyone to "borrow" seeds free of charge, and provides opportunities to learn about gardening, seed saving, and agricultural research and teaching at UBC," reads their website.

5. The Seagulls were nearly the name of the school teams

In a student vote back in 1933 the student paper (the Ubyssey) held a vote to decide what the teams that play at UBC should be called. While we all know them as the Thunderbirds now, named after the creature from the local First Nations, the first vote had a different winner.

Much like the Boaty McBoatface incident, voters didn't go for a name full of strength or power, but instead, they picked the Seagulls (which, arguably, would have been a pretty good name).

The student editors at the paper nixed it, though, and a new vote was held later, which the Thunderbird won.