Live from the Archives

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Illustration: Christine Wang
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Originally published on March 14, 2002

It’s official, The Nox is going out of business and closing its doors forever.

At the March 10 meeting of the Board of Administration (BOA), Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) President Adam Brown made the announcement.

“It is with sadness and responsibility that, after a decade of losses with $500,000 of student money, in the fall, the Nox will not re-open,” he said.

The Nox’s final day in business will be April 30. 

“It’s a little bit disheartening,” said Nox manager Mike Howard, “It has been here for many years and I hate to see it go, but it is a decision that needs to be made.”

The decision, made by the SFUO executive, is primarily financially driven. The bar has lost $477,962 since 1996.

“We are losing money and not servicing our students,” said Charles Dutrisac, general manager of the SFUO. “We have to be responsible for our members and after so many years of losing money we are not being responsible.”

Howard identified several reasons the bar continuously loses money,

“I blame the high rent, limited window of operations, inadequate kitchen, proximity to close competition, and the changing demographics of the student population,” he said.

Each year the bar pays $94,689.19 in occupation cost to the U of O.

“What’s killing us is fixed costs that the university is imposing on us,” Brown told the BOA.

These fixed costs, among other things, are what Brown wants to change.

“They [administration] will not be putting an outside business in The Nox that is not for students,” he said. “We will do it with partnerships where we are not getting bled dry by the administration.”

Dutrisac confirmed a partnership might soon exist with the U of O administration.

“The university is looking at doing something with us that will rejuvenate campus,” he said.

However, some student leaders are not as confident or convinced about the proposed partnership. 

“The [administration] have been trying to keep us off of campus for a long time,” said Heather Duff, campaigns coordinator for the SFUO. “The university would love to have that space.”

Howard agrees that a healthy partnership needs to be formed. 

“Anything is possible, but don’t see a student bar without a feasible relationship with the university,” he said.”But the SFUO wants to keep the space,”

Duff still isn’t convinced.

“I’m not as confident as Adam [Brown],” she said. “I don’t think that they are just going to roll over for us.”

Since 1997, the U of O’s Connexions project has explored new ways in which the university can operate. It is investigating ways in which the U of O can better coordinate processes that have traditionally been dispersed throughout several sectors of the university. Helene Carriere, director of the Connexions project, understands the importance of a student bar.

“[The Nox] is certainly part of the space in the University Centre,” she said. “There needs to be something in that space.”

Currently, the Connexions project has a task force evaluating the entire University Centre. They are looking at the structure of the staff, space allocation, and business in the Centre. Brown is the sole undergraduate student representative on this task force,

Even after the bar is closed, the SFUO might still have to pay the fixed costs for a large empty room if nothing is done with the space.

“There is a slight chance, but it is highly unlikely,” said Dutrisac.

Brown isn’t concerned about the possibility of paying rent for an empty space.

“I will get a solution by April 30,” he said, “a decision will be made.”

Some student leaders are upset with the process that the SFUO executive used to close the bar.

“Unfortunately they didn’t allow for input from others and [they] didn’t do what they said they would do,” said Duff.

A select group of student leaders were invited to attend a brainstorming session about the Nox. The selection and limited amount of voices angered Duff.

“[The people that were invited] were generally a lot of people that didn’t give them [SFUO] a lot of problems.”

According to Howard, there were seven people invited and a few people couldn’t attend. Brown when asked at the BOA, claimed he was always available for concerned individuals.

“My door was always open, I was always available for consultation,” he said.

A brief history of the Nox 

Jan.1984: Christine Bordeleaux wins contest to name new bar The Equinox.

Sept.1984: The Equinox stops serving b-52s.

Nov.1984: $3000 worth of beer mugs stolen over two months.

June.1986: SFUO announces that the Equinox made $110,000 over the past year.

Sept.1986: The Equinox boycotts products made by South African companies O’Keefe, Rothmans, and Seagrams, to oppose apartheid.

Oct.1986: SFUO announces The Equinox net profit at $83,000.

Sept.1989: Carpet removed and tile floors installed.

Sept.1990: Students encouraged to bring their own lunch to the bar.

Oct.1990: SFUO pledges $4,000 to buy 200 top 40 CDs.

Feb.1992: The Equinox deficit estimated at $50,000

Sept.1993: The Equinox changes its name to the Nox, the latin word for night, moves into space left by former SFUO clothing store the Zipper, and $95,000 pumped into renovations, including the building of a kitchen.

April.1996: SFUO announces a $92,063 loss for the Nox.

April.1997: SFUO announces a $142,896 loss for the Nox.

April.1999: SFUO announces a $61,380 loss for the Nox.

Sept.2000: $2000 worth of new tables purchased 

Feb.2001: $10,000 robbed from the Nox.

Feb.2002: Nox loses $101,662 in six months.

March. 2002: SFUO announces plans to shut down the bar, will close April 30.

What’s with that name?

In 1984, when Cafe Campus became a student bar, a competition to name the new bar brought in 350 suggestions.

Christine Bordeleaux won the contest with her suggestion, The Equinox. Bordeleaux won a free trip to Cancun for her idea.

She has good memories of the bar.

“After doing some sports on campus, you would go there to have a beer,” she told the Fulcrum. “It was a place to go on Saturday nights.”

Bordeleaux was upset with the closing of the Nox.

“When it was part of yourself it is disappointing,” she said. “Recently we have become more used to it, that’s life.”

Since graduating with a masters in political science, Bordeleaux spent some time in the Prime Minister’s Office and has worked for the past 10 years within Human Ressources and Developpement Canada.

Fun facts about this article:

  • The Nox was replaced by the 1848 Student bar which closed its doors in 2019 following the SFUO defeat in the student union referendum of 2019. Its future is uncertain as it has itself also consistently lost money.
  • Author Adam Grachnik is now the Director of Corporate Affairs at Walmart Canada, he was News Editor of the Fulcrum for the 2001-2002 publishing year and Editor-in-Chief for the 2002-03 publishing year.
  • Heather Duff now works for the CUPE Local 503 union
  • Charles Dutrisac worked for the SFUO from 1998 to 2004, he currently works for the federal government. 
  • Adam Brown was SFUO’s President in 2001-02, he is now the Lead Pastor of the South Shore Bible Church