Seriously, The Pas??? I grew up in The Pas (lived there for 21 years) and you never
hear mention of it randomly on the web. Too funny to see someone ask about it!
I've actually worked at UCN in the past, as does my mom. My sister is taking the nursing program there.
As for the fire, it was nothing. They're redoing the roof and some tar caught fire. It was not substantial by any means. They're still cleaning up from the water damage, but classes are continuing as usual.
The midwifery program is still just starting up. I don't know the details, but definitely give them a call and they'll be more than happy to help you out.
As for what The Pas is like...well, I'll never move back there.
It's your typical small town, so if you like that, then you'll probably like The Pas. Personally, after living in a city for a few years now, I can't stand all the petty small town back-biting and gossip and whatnot that goes on, but you'll find that in most small towns.
Yes, The Pas is along a river, with the reservation on the other side. A paper mill is the major employer there, along with UCN itself.
The weather - freezing cold winters (-50 is not unusual) and gorgeous summers. The summers are particularly nice due to the surrounding area. Clearwater Lake is half an hour out of town. The lake is beautiful and has a couple nice beaches, plenty of fishing, that sort of thing. The Caves are lots of fun to climb around in. Lots of outdoor things to do. Trapper's Festival in February is the big winter event there - something to take your mind off the cold and snow.
I don't know much about the housing specifics, but there are a lot of options - housing in town, housing out in the country if you don't mind the 10-15 minute drive (we did this when we lived there temporarily last summer - rented a place out in the country on 5 acres, the privacy and space were very nice), renting right near the college, living in residence, etc. It will depend also, of course, on your family situation.
Shopping - hah! It's much improved since Walmart and Canadian Tire opened in Flin Flon (1.5 hours' drive north of The Pas). There's not a lot in The Pas itself. Giant Tiger, Extra Foods, a couple grocery stores, Ardenes, Warehouse One, True Value, a health food store, a couple other stores. People tend to head to Winnipeg (6-7 hours' drive south of The Pas) every so often to stock up on what they need, because it's often hard to find what you need in town despite how hard they try to push the whole "shop local" thing. There's a few gas stations, plenty of fast food places, a couple restaurants, several playgrounds, and an excellent public library (I might be biased, as I worked there for 7 years, but I really haven't found a library as good as that one anywhere else). UCN has a good bookstore to pick up supplies you need for school.
General attitude - well, as I said, lots of typical small town politics. Everyone knows everyone else and your business is everyone's business. I don't have the patience for that sort of drama anymore, so I wouldn't settle down there, myself, but UCN does offer excellent programs and would likely be more than worth it for you.
Hope that helps and I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have about the town. Good luck!