Gargole nearly covered in red ivy

University of Toronto

Located in a fictional mid-sized Canadian city, Inconstant Moon takes place almost entirely on the equally fictional Christie University campus.

There are actually quite a few Universities in the province of Ontario, but it seemed a good idea to place my central crime on a fictional campus. Inventing Christie University gave me the freedom to design a setting that would work best with the story.

In many ways, the Christie Campus has almost become a character in its own right.

Geographically I’ve borrowed elements from different universities to weave the campus setting. This is reflected in the images I’ve used to illustrate the online serialization.  I’ve digitally “dressed the set” in some cases changing the names “to protect the innocent.”   That’s why the University of waterloo flags read  “Christie University.”

The novel reveals a little of Christie’s backstory, explaining that the institution began as a 19th Century Sanatorium, which had been deliberately located in the middle of nowhere, with only basic rail access as the means for patients and their visitors to come and go there.

Deliberately removed from urban centers of industry and disease, quiet and fresh air was more responsible for the high rate of patient survival than many of the dubious medical practices of the day. Sixty years later the institutional quiet was breached forever with an influx of casualties that no other facility had the beds to accept. Great War survivors of mustard gas, battlefield surgery and shell shock desperately needed housing and treatment. No longer just a quiet place where the railroad petered into a train yard, the town expanded to accommodate an ever increasing flow of visitors, sprawling down the valley to meet the river.”

“With an end to the war, several military surgeons followed their former patients to Christie, bringing with them surgical innovations developed in wretched battlefield conditions, triggering the transformation from sanatorium to teaching hospital, and it wasn’t long before Christie University grew up around the bustling hospital.”

— Chapter 20, “Inconstant Moon”

Campus Police Car at University of Waterloo

In the beginning the university’s isolation afforded it the luxury of a extensive forested grounds. But these days the town has grown into a city, with the land always increasing in value. Even if the school doesn’t sell off ‘the back forty,’ odds are good the property will be developed to add new facilities and student residences.

Runner silhouetted on the indoor running track

Brock University - a good running photo even if the wrong kind of track

My nameless city has never had the facilities to house the fluctuating student population.  From the beginning  most of the students have been housed on campus.

This is actually the John Kelly Library at the University of Toronto. I couldn't resist.

Brock University

The school is quite self contained, providing students with all amenities, so students never have to set foot in the town. But of course they will.

Swan swimming along the river, taken at Stratford, ON

The waterfront is really located in Stratford, Ontario

Naturally, some students will always choose to live off campus for both privacy and autonomy. And of course, a few of the students come from the local community. Living at home dramatically decreases the cost of university education. Commuting to the campus daily can make it harder to fit in.

The main wing of the Hospital is still housed in the original Victorian building situated on the Christie campus.

monkey gargoyle, photographed at University of Toronto

University of Toronto, the source of almost all of my gargoyles.

Architectural styles vary as new buildings have been built to accommodate the expansion over the decades.

University of Guelph Campus

Christie has variety of student housing choices. Within the scope of the novel, Fyfield House is an apartment building residence where the bulk of our students live. There is a village of cottages to provide more private housing for married students.

Wilfred Laurier University

Inconstant Moon’s ensemble cast is made up of students in four different disciplines, Photography, English, Medicine and Computer Science. The cross-program fraternization happens because students from different programs are housed together in the Fyfield residence.


I'm not certain if this building s actually part of the University of Guelph, or just beside it.