UC History

1. Quotes about UC    2. Books about UC History   3. Images from UC History


Compiled by Margaret Fulford, UC Librarian, from books available at the UC Library.


"[William Mulock] and J.M. Gibson [...] matriculated together and were the first students to enter the Residence of University College, which was opened in the Fall of 1859. [...] During his freshman year young Mulock attended lectures regularly and listened attentively, as most freshman do, to the words of wisdom that flowed from the mouths of the College professors, foremost amongst whom he remembers Dr. McCaul, who gave instructions in Greek and Latin and also some lectures on the principles of Logic. The old doctor impressed his students particularly by his choice language and pleasant stories, interspersed with occasional pinches of snuff."
-- W.J.  Loudon

Loudon, William James. Sir William Mulock: A Short Biography (Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1932), pp. 37-38.


"During our second year under the inspiration of Professor Maurice Hutton, the distinguished head of the classical department, and of Professor Ramsay Wright, a brilliant scientist, both Oxonians, the [University Glee Club] with great daring undertook the production of Sophocles's play Antigone with music. It was the first time a Greek play set to music had been done in the original in modern times. In this production [my brother Gilbert and I] were both fortunate enough to have  a place in the first quartet, Gib in the bass, I in the tenor. [...]"
-- Ralph Connor [Charles Gordon]

Gordon, Charles W. Postscript to Adventure: The Autobiography of Ralph Connor (New York: Farrar & Rinehart Incorporated, 1938), pp. 43-44.

"In 1883 [my brother Gilbert and I] graduated from the university. How large a place that institution had made for itself in my heart I never knew till after I had written my last examination. I walked out through the door under the noble Gothic arch and made my way on to the beautiful green in front. Then I turned and looked at the noble building, one of the finest on the continent. It was a perfect day in early May, the trees in Queen's Park were at their best. I was suddenly stricken with an acute homesickness. It was a shock to remember that the varsity was no longer mine, I was no longer of it. I belonged to the great mob outside. I walked slowly down that green toward the School of Science and turned once more to look at the scene before me. There lay the campus, vividly green, the scene of many a hard rugby battle, and beyond it the university, calm, grandly magnificent with its fine old façade of Gothic mullioned windows, every window tricked out with its funny-faced gargoyles, the whole now softened with green splashes of ivy. No longer mine. I lay with my face on the greensward, homesick and desperately lonely."
-- Ralph Connor [Charles Gordon]

Gordon, Charles W. Postscript to Adventure: The Autobiography of Ralph Connor (New York: Farrar & Rinehart Incorporated, 1938), p. 45.


"It was in October 1887 that I entered upon my work as Lecturer in Greek and Ancient History in University College, Toronto. [...]  I had [...] taken a suite of rooms in the residence, which formed one side of the College quadrangle. [...] My youngest brother, George, had by this time entered College, and he occupied these rooms with me. I felt very proud of having my own bachelor quarters. [...] Our sitting room had a large stone fireplace, set in a corner; and opposite this we installed a piano, which George could use for practice, as well as for the entertainment of both ourselves and our friends. The college steward and servants ministered to our physical comforts, every morning bringing hot water to our rooms, laying the fire, polishing our shoes, and making our beds.[...] Thus we lived in what must have seemed to many a state of comparative luxury. I say 'seemed,' because, judged by present-day standards of comfort and healthfulness, the old picturesque Residence was in a deplorable state. Its sanitary facilities were very imperfect, and the whole place was alive with rats, so that, if one woke up in the middle of the night, he was likely to hear swarms of the rodents running up and down the stairs which divided the various houses from one another."
--- H. Rushton Fairclough

Fairclough, H. Rushton. Warming Both Hands: The Autobiography of Henry Rushton Fairclough (Stanford University Press, 1941), pp. 85-86.

"Early in 1890 our peace was disturbed by what seemed at the time to be an irreparable calamity. On the evening of Friday, February 14, the annual Conversazione of the Literary and Scientific Society was again to be held in University College. [...] Our President, who was now Sir Daniel Wilson, for he had recently been knighted by Queen Victoria, had invited to his home for dinner a number of friends who were later to accompany him and his family to the college for the gay function. My wife and I were among these guests. Shortly before dessert was served a servant whispered a message in the ear of our host, who at once arose and left the room. A few moments later the same servant came in to tell Miss Sybil Wilson that the college was on fire and that her father had gone to the scene. It was a terrible yet fascinating spectacle which confronted us on reaching the campus. On this cold winter night the spacious grounds were covered with a mantle of white. Here had already assembled hundreds of people, arrayed in evening dress, who, instead of enjoying the music and gaiety within, were to spend the evening in the open air watching fiery flames leap upwards above the corniced roof and noble central tower, then pass relentlessly from room to room of the majestic Norman structure. The whole eastern half, embracing the Library and the Convocation Hall, was doomed from the first, and the heroic efforts of firemen, students, and other volunteers were confined to saving the western half, which included the natural history museum, a few lecture rooms, and the college Residence. [...] At a late hour a number of us returned to the President's house and discussed the evening's tragedy. The destruction of the Library, with its thousands of volumes, would be most keenly felt by all; while some of us, whose offices had been devastated, had to face personal losses as well, for it was in them that we had kept academic robes, lecture notes, and our most-used books. Sir Daniel was the most cheerful member of the group. Already offers of accommodation had come to him from neighboring schools and colleges; the Prime Minister had assured him of the Government's desire to help in the crisis; and his immediate ambition was to have lectures continue the following week without the slightest break. In this laudable aim he was successful."
--- H. Rushton Fairclough

Fairclough, H. Rushton. Warming Both Hands: The Autobiography of Henry Rushton Fairclough (Stanford University Press, 1941), pp. 95-96.


"At the University [of Toronto] I spent my entire time in the acquisition of languages, living, dead, and half-dead, and knew nothing of the outside world. In this diligent pursuit of words I spent about sixteen hours of each day. Very soon after graduation I had forgotten the languages, and found myself intellectually bankrupt. In other words I was what is called a distinguished graduate, and, as such, I took to school teaching as the only trade I could find that needed neither experience nor intellect."
-- Stephen Leacock

Leacock, Stephen. Leacock on Life, edited by Gerald Lynch (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), pp. 3-4.


"During his years at University College, Howard [Ferguson] was an active member of the Literary Society [University College Literary and Scientific Society] and served on many of its committees. In the fall of 1890 he represented the Arts undergraduates at a McGill dinner but unfortunately overdid the festive aspects of the occasion. When it came time to report to the Lit on what had transpired in Montreal, he was in a fluster, not knowing what to do. Harry Cody came to his rescue. 'Tell them you forget,' he suggested. Howard did so and brought down the house."
-- Peter Oliver

Oliver, Peter. G. Howard Ferguson: Ontario Tory. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977), p. 13.


"[A crisis] occurred a few short weeks before graduation when Howard [Ferguson] faced an examination in mathematics. Here was a weakness he shared with language major Stephen Leacock, who was again his roommate. The facile Leacock suggested a solution. After much scanning of the catalogue, he decided that a credit in ethnology would serve equally well to get them their degrees and was more to their taste. Howard was always willing to defer to Leacock's judgment in matters academic, although the necessary exam would have to be written the following day. 'Leacock hurried to the library and discovered that Sir Daniel Wilson, principal of the university, had written two books on the subject.' He brought the books back to their room and they spent the night reading aloud to each other. Each was content to graduate with a third in ethnology."
-- Peter Oliver

Oliver, Peter. G. Howard Ferguson: Ontario Tory. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977), pp. 13-14.


"Sir Daniel Wilson was President when I began my courses in University College. We spoke of him commonly as 'Hence accordingly,' a phrase of frequent repetition in the occasional lectures on history or English that we heard from him. "
-- Pelham Edgar

Edgar, Pelham. Across My Path (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1952), p. 17

"George Paxton Young died at the opening of my second year. I had intended to combine philosophy with my moderns course -- we were allowed a pretty wide choice in those days -- but a single lecture from him was all that I achieved. The University today can boast of a diversity of brilliant talent on its staff, but it can display no such impressive figures as the venerable President [Daniel Wilson] and Paxton Young. I have a recollection of some violent class room disturbance in the famous number 8 with its tiers of seats that ran from floor to ceiling. There is a corridor picture in my mind of two antique figures, with waving hoary beards, dragging a heavy hose with intent to turn its nozzle on the rioters. This was almost the last public appearance of Sir Daniel Wilson and George Paxton Young."
-- Pelham Edgar

Edgar, Pelham. Across My Path (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1952), pp. 20-21


"Mackenzie King did well at the Berlin High School, and in 1891 he went on to University College at the University of Toronto. His father was a graduate of the University and a member of its Senate. The new freshman apparently made some ill-advised reference to his latter distinction, which produced a rude comment in the student paper, The Varsity, concerning the son of 'Senator Rex' of Berlin. Claiming that he had been misrepresented, King brought the affair before a meeting of his class, which, he assured his parents, accepted his version and cheered him to the echo. The permanent result of the incident was the nickname 'Rex,' by which those who knew him best called King until the end of his life."
-- Charles P. Stacey

Stacey, Charles P. A Very Double Life: The Private World of Mackenzie King (Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1976), p. 18.


"[William Lyon Mackenzie] King's most memorable moment as an undergraduate and his first real taste of political action occurred in his final year, during the great student strike of 1895. To protest the university's firing of William Dale, a popular professor of Latin, and the administration's censorship of The Varsity and the Political Science Association, the students voted to boycott classes until the Ontario government convened a public inquiry in to the university administration's questionable actions. The day Dale's dismissal was announced, the students voted to walk out of classes. At a boisterous rally, King delivered a passionate speech denouncing 'the age-old  cult of tyranny,' as journalist Hector Charlesworth, who attended the gathering, later remembered. In his diary, King enthusiastically noted that when he first heard the news about Dale, 'I was that excited that I could not keep still, my blood fairly boiled. I scarcely ate any lunch.'"
-- Allen Levine

Levine, Allan. King: William Lyon Mackenzie King: A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2011), pp. 37-38.


"As a specialist in mathematics [Arthur Meighen] had most to do with Professor Alfred Baker and the urbane and talented A.T. DeLury, one of the most popular and respected instructors on the campus. But the man who made the greatest impression on him was Professor W.J. Alexander of the Department of English at University College. Meighen had been reading Shakespeare for several years and had already found in his works an inexhaustible source of pleasure. When Alexander read Shakespeare aloud to his class, however, the power and beauty of the language, the insight into human motives and emotions, the majesty and force of the drama were revealed as never before to the enchanted youth. Alexander could establish a kind of spiritual communion between a receptive listener on the one hand and the poet and his characters on the other. His lectures remained in Meighen's mind as among the few truly memorable experiences of university."
-- Roger Graham

Graham, Roger. Arthur Meighen: A Biography (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Co., 1960), pp. 18-19.


"The original idea of [architect Frederick William] Cumberland was to have a lawn in front and to the south of University College, hemmed in by shrubberies, with winding roads at the east and west: thus giving approaches from which the College would appear to the best advantage. This idea was carried out for some years but finally, about twenty years ago, Art was sacrificed for Utility, the shrubberies at the south of the lawn were removed, and a road was cut from College Street, straight in front of the main entrance, thus destroying the beauty of the lawn, making it much smaller, and presenting to the eye a bare front of stone. The God of Utility will probably soon require that this short road shall be prolonged straight to the front door of the College, thus dividing the lawn into two equal parts and reducing the time used in describing the arc of a circle to a minimum.  Some years ago, about 1892, a number of reformers proposed this very thing and, in addition, suggested that the main road in front of the College be continued through to St. George Street. John Squair was the chief of these reformers, although, latterly, he was strong in favour of Cumberland's original idea. In fact, the last time I saw him, we were standing at the corner of College street and the 'Street without a Name,' and, looking up towards the main building, John deplored the destruction of the original beauty of the lawn. When I reminded him of his former suggestions, he only laughed and said that he had grown wiser with age and that it was never too late to learn.
-- William James Loudon

Loudon, W.J. Studies of Student Life, volume 5 (Toronto: Macmillan, 1928), pp. 241-242.


"By every family tradition [Vincent Massey] should have gone to Victoria, the intellectual citadel of Methodism, which had recently, and somewhat reluctantly, moved from Cobourg to Toronto to become a college in the University of Toronto. The Massey family was closely associated with Victoria. [...] He was still a serious young man, outwardly faithful to his Methodist upbringing. But he was beginning to chafe under the Massey burden of moral earnestness and loyalty to the firm. His choice of University College, the provincial college that had no official religious ties, and about which there still hung a faint aroma of godlessness, was a declaration of independence, a clear indication that he did not intend to follow in the family footsteps.
-- Claude Bissell

Bissell, Claude. The Young Vincent Massey (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1981), pp. 30-31.


"University College in my time was really a non-collegiate body -- it had no residence and little to give it the cohesion of a community, but it did include in its faculty some persons in the best academic tradition. They were talented men, highly individual, often eccentric in their habits. Standardized practice and overwork had not yet threatened academic life with uniformity. Our professors were good teachers and possessed for the most part very personal qualities. We were able to know them; the contacts between teacher and student were not yet smothered under the weight of numbers. We were spared the dreary and futile machinery of compulsory lectures and the 'credit' system."
-- Vincent Massey

Massey, Vincent. What's Past Is Prologue: The Memoirs of the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, C.H. (Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1963), p. 18.


"Between men and women students there was not much general association. By the fourth year, a male student was probably calling a few of his women class-mates by their first names, but most of them were still just people sitting in the same class-rooms. There was no casual mingling in the seating. Few activities were conducted in common. There were separate reading-rooms in the library. Between classes the ladies withdrew to their own private world off the East Hall; none of them was ever seen talking to a male student in the corridors. Of course women were ladies in those days. This meant that in University College, that co-educational institution, I lived in a man's world, a monastic world. So did most of the other men I knew."
-- Arthur R. M. Lower

Lower, Arthur R. M. My First Seventy-Five Years (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1967), p. 44.


"At the University of Toronto, in the late 1920s, my life was torn three ways: by theatre, by newspaper, and by academic studies. Academic studies lost, hands down. My academic career was marked by an exquisite lack of distinction. Theatre was represented by the University College Players' Guild, and by Hart House Theatre -- which, in those days, although on the campus, was not part of the university. Newspaper was represented by the Varsity, the undergraduate daily, on which I started as a reporter, proceeded to masquerade as Drama Editor, and finally became boss Editor."
-- Andrew Allan

Allan, Andrew. Andrew Allan: A Self-Portrait (Toronto : Macmillan of Canada, 1974), p. 55.


"In his third year [Bora] Laskin also served on the executive of the UC Literary and Athletic Society. Thanks to its interdenominational character, the University College 'Lit' was one of the few social clubs on campus where religious integration was close to being a reality. In his year on the executive Laskin was joined by fellow law students Sydney Hermant and Nathan Pivnick. As 'literary director' Laskin was responsible for planning a series of speakers[...]. The most popular speaker was Agnes Macphail, the sole woman MP in the House of Commons. In her address to the students in November 1932 she 'flayed pet Canadian institutions,' arguing for increased state control over finance, trade, and industry in order to remedy the horrors of the Depression. The occasion was historic: the all-male Lit had never invited a 'lady' speaker before, but her presence 'met with the approbation of all' [Varsity, November 2, 1932]. "
-- Philip Girard

Girard, Philip. Bora Laskin: Bringing Law to Life (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2005), pp. 54-55.


"I had chosen to go to University College. By upbringing and by religious background, I should logically have gone to Victoria, which was affiliated with the United Church; but my family had no firm convictions on such remote questions as the choice of a college, and I was anxious to assert my own freedom. [....] The decision to go to University College was a wise one for it meant I would encounter an English department at the height of its powers, and English was to be my main interest. I suspect that rarely on this continent has there been assembled in one place a group of teachers of such diverse and splendid power."
-- Claude Bissell

Bissell, Claude. Halfway up Parnassus: A Personal Account of the University of Toronto, 1932-1971 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), pp. 4-5.


"In September 1934, Alan Jarvis entered University College, or "UC," the largest and only secular institution affiliated with the University of Toronto. It was a key choice because much of an undergraduate's life revolved around his or her college. [...] [About half of UC's undergraduates] hailed from Toronto and like Jarvis, a majority of them lived at home throughout their studies. Nevertheless, the student body was more diverse than this fairly narrow catchment area suggests. Half were women, while UC's secularity attracted a substantial number of Jewish students. Similarly, the students' socioeconomic origins encompassed the offspring of professional families with long traditions of university education, those like Jarvis, whose parents' success had propelled them into the middle classes, and a smaller group of scholarship students from more humble backgrounds."
-- Andrew Horrall

Horrall, Andrew. Bringing Art to Life: A Biography of Alan Jarvis (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009), p. 27.


"At the University of Toronto, he started out in the classics course, but switched to English literature when he found that he already had studied much of the material that the classics program at Toronto covered. On the extracurricular side, he served on the Hart House Arts Committee and acted in student plays. In his junior year, he produced the 'University College Follies,' whose stars were Lou Weingarten and Frank Shuster, later known as the comedy team of Wayne and Shuster. In his subsequent career [at the National Film Board of Canada], Daly would often draw on his experiences of classical literature, philosophy, and other arts to help interpret a situation, solve an editing problem, or understand a personal dilemma."
-- D.B. Jones

Jones, D.B. The Best Butler in the Business: Tom Daly of the National Film Board of Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), p. 8.


"The University of Toronto campus in the autumn of 1937 more than met my well-nourished expectations. The creeping leviathan of the 1950s and 1960s had not yet swallowed whole streets. For four years Bev [Argue] and I went several times a week to the Lantern Tea Room -- on Willcocks Street, where one of the ugliest of science buildings has now taken the place of old houses and lofty elms. Lunch could be had there for 25 or 30 cents. I very nearly registered at Trinity College in the company of other Upper Canada College chaps. Inside the Trinity quadrangle, however, I sensed toO much déjà vu. The floor plan resembled that of Upper Canada, the dustbane smelled the same, and I was being invited to join in a select fraternity. A kind of inverted snobbery -- which I mistook for egalitarianism -- overtook me. Across the campus I registered in University College -- the 'godless' college,' but also the one to which my father had been attached."
-- Kenneth McNaught

McNaught, Kenneth. Conscience and History: A Memoir (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1999), p. 22.

"The great majority of our lectures, in all fields, were occasions -- a claim that may well be greeted with scepticism in an age in which the lecture enjoys not much approval. Beyond the first year, most lectures were given to fewer than forty students. With very few exceptions, we recognized that lectures had been meticulously constructed by people genuinely engaged with their subjects. Providing one had done at least some of the preparatory reading, the lecture ambiance usually produced personal rapport and beneficial stimulus."
-- Kenneth McNaught

McNaught, Kenneth. Conscience and History: A Memoir (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1999), p. 24.


"I had registered at nonsectarian University College precisely because of Father's connection with Trinity, the Anglican centre; and I had taken a room in the Victoria residence only because there were none left at UC. If it must be one crowd or another, I told myself, better the eclectic United Churchers than the pietistic Anglicans, the dour Presbyterians, or the tyrannical Catholics. If there had been a Buddhist residence, I would have gone there. Near the entrance to University College, a Neo-Romanesque edifice from the 1850s, I found a legend: 'Here was realized a major nineteenth-century aspiration: the establishment of a non-denominational institution of higher learning supported by government.' This inscription suited my iconoclasm and my appetite for diversity. But it also showed that a government could do for the community what self-seeking factions would not."
-- Mavor Moore

Moore, Mavor. Reinventing Myself: Memoirs (Toronto: Stoddart, 1994), p. 55.


"In the fall of 1942 I enrolled in the honours course in English Language and Literature at the University of Toronto. Now at last, I thought, I would be able to get a systematic overview of the national literature, for one of the first-year courses was 'American and Canadian Literature.' It was, alas, a misleading description. The Canadian part of the course consisted of three or four lectures at the end of the academic year. These lectures were given by Claude Bissell. They were very good lectures, but there was not very much that he could do in three or four hours. [J.R.] McGillivray taught the American material. When I saw the reading list for the course, I expressed my disappointment because there was so little Canadian material on the list. McGillivray said that if I was interested, I could write a major term paper on a Canadian writer. He suggested A.M. Klein, who had recently published Hath Not A Jew, and whose background was similar to mine. So the very first term paper I wrote at the University of Toronto was on a Canadian poet. It was a great experience for me."
-- Henry Kreisel

Neuman, Shirley, ed. Another Country: Writings by and about Henry Kreisel (Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1984), p. 113.


"In 1943 I met Robert Weaver and James Reaney. Up to now Canada had been for me the confines of internment camps, and the two big cities -- Toronto and Montreal. The rest of the country barely existed in my consciousness. Reaney, both in his inimitable conversation and in the evocative things he wrote, introduced me to the world of small-town Ontario, and Weaver, who was more interested in prose than in poetry, introduced me to modern Canadian fiction."
-- Henry Kreisel

Neuman, Shirley, ed. Another Country: Writings by and about Henry Kreisel (Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1984), p. 113.


"[Robert Weaver] joined the staff of The Varsity, the university newspaper, for which he reviewed frequently. In his second year he edited The Undergrad, the University College student magazine, which under his watch was transformed into a much more literary publication than it had been up until then. He became close friends with Henry Kreisel, James Reaney, and Colleen Thibodeau, all of whom would have significant careers down the road -- Kreisel as a novelist, Reaney as a poet and playwright, and Thibodeau as a poet."
-- Elaine Kalman Naves

Naves, Elaine Kalman. Robert Weaver: Godfather of Canadian Literature (Montréal: Véhicule Press, 2007), p. 28.


"Norman Endicott was an English professor at University College and he was a great influence not just on me, but on [James] Reaney and [Henry] Kreisel and that whole group... He was encouraging to us as writers. He taught us, but he went beyond that in encouraging us to find our way as young writers."
-- Robert Weaver

Naves, Elaine Kalman. Robert Weaver: Godfather of Canadian Literature (Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2007), p. 30.


"As soon as I attended the University of Toronto, I quickly registered at the Varsity paper and became involved in the UC Follies, the annual college variety show. I felt I had arrived, even if it was in the family pick-up truck, delivering the parcels of chickens on the way."
-- Harry Rasky

Rasky, Harry. Nobody Swings on Sunday: The Many Lives and Films of Harry Rasky (Don Mills, Ont.: Collier Macmillan Canada, 1980), p. 19.

This quote is about the 1940s, when he was a PhD student and a Teaching Fellow at University College. Later, in the 1960s, he became U of T's Dean of Graduate Studies.

"Croft Chapter House, the university's original chemistry laboratory, was at that time the college's senior common room, where tea and biscuits were served from 3:30 every afternoon. [A.S.P.] Woodhouse sometimes took me there, and would introduce me to whoever happened to be sitting nearby. Gilbert Norwood, the renowned historian of the Greek drama, was a trifle remote, but his colleague Charles Cochrane, later to be equally renowned for his Christianity and Classical Culture, was eager to talk. I came to realize that he felt somewhat isolated in his department, which was why he would stand in the cloister outside his office hand-rolling cigarettes and hoping to intercept someone interesting to talk to; it was in that setting that he made me understand something of St. Augustine. Indeed, the hundred feet or so of the West Cloister was for me the true Philosopher's Walk of the university, not the sylvan path of that name a few hundred yards to the northeast. Several members of the smaller departments, lacking the intellectual company offered by the larger departments, used it much as Cochrane did. There Reid MacCallum, tall, lean, and shy, would sometimes try out parts of his difficult theory of aesthetics on me; there too his colleague Fulton Anderson, also tall but neither lean nor shy, would talk very sparingly about Bacon and copiously about how much better he could run the Philosophy department than [G.S.] Brett did. [Barker] Fairley and [Hermann] Boeschenstein hung out there, separately or together always a pleasure to talk to."
-- Ernest Sirluck

Sirluck, Ernest. First Generation: An Autobiography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), p. 88.


"I probably won the election as president of the Lit [University College Literary and Athletic Society] for two principal reasons. The first was the electoral speech that I made. [....] I do not know whether it is still the tradition, but in the early 1950s the speeches consisted entirely of off-colour jokes. A couple of hundred persons -- men and women -- would gather at noon hour in UC's Junior Common Room, the JCR, to hear the election speeches by the candidates for the Lit and WUA [Women's Undergraduate Association]. [...] My joke, using language that is still not used in mixed company and was even less used in those days, brought down the house. [...] My election was also helped by the future hockey promoter, Alan Eagleson. Everyone knew Eagleson. Although I was not much of an athlete, I had managed to play on two intercollegiate teams -- squash and polo. [...] Having an 'athlete' heading the Lit -- Eagleson must have thought -- would help the athletic side of the 'literary and athletic association.' In those years, the department of Physical and Health Education (PHE) was part of University College and its students were entitled to vote in the elections. Eagleson arranged for all his friends in the program -- and Eagleson had a lot of friends -- to come over to the JCR and vote for me."
-- Martin Friedland

Friedland, Martin L. My Life in Crime and Other Academic Adventures (Toronto: University of Toronto Press for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2007), pp. 9-10


"In the late fifties, I was part of a group of young and cocky writers/intellectuals-to-be, studying (mostly literature) at the University of Toronto, which included John Robert Colombo, David Helwig, Edward Lacey, Christopher Priestley and David Lewis Stein. It was a time of great ferment, especially in the arts, a first stirring of a Renaissance of unprecedented creativity in Canada, and we were willy-nilly part of it – writing poems and stories, reading them solemnly to each other, discussing them passionately till all hours, publishing chapbooks, and editing more or less juvenile literary journals"
-- Henry Beissel

Lacey, Edward. A Magic Prison: Letters from Edward Lacey, edited by David Helwig, with an  introduction by Henry Beissel (Ottawa: Oberon Press, 1995), p. 5.


"For the out-of-town girls of Whitney Hall residence, university was designed not only to broaden the mind, but to make a lady of you. There was a Mistress of Deportment, with whom the girls drank coffee in the drawing room after dinner. My mother [Barbara Frum] encountered this woman in her first week of school. As the Mistress poured my mother a cup of coffee, she asked, in a rich Upper Canadian accent: 'One lump or two?' 'Three please,' replied my mother. 'One lump or two?' the Mistress repeated."
-- Linda Frum

Frum, Linda. Barbara Frum: A Daughter's Memoir (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 1996), p. 63.


"When I arrived at the University of Toronto, a sunny morning in September, my parents' car parked in a laneway so I could carry the boxes of my possessions into the residence where I had a room, I was excited, but also nervous and unsettled. I wanted to leave the little world of my family, but this new universe was enormous and very accomplished. I was moving into Taylor House in the Sir Daniel Wilson Residence at University College, a new yellow brick building constructed around an inner quadrangle at 71 St. George Street, the large building divided into six 'houses', each with a graduate student or lecturer as Don. Just across the lawn of the quadrangle was the west wing of the old college building, nineteenth-century Romanesque, and the little attached house where the principal lived. As I settled in, the more senior students would appear at my door, shake hands, all of them friendly and welcoming, but for all that, I found my situation solitary, chilling. Still, I was intrigued by the possibilities of the place and leapt in with both feet."
-- David Helwig

Helwig, David. The Names of Things: A Memoir (Erin, Ont. : Porcupine's Quill, 2006), pp. 48-49.


"On December 30, 1963, I turned twenty-one. I was in fourth year, my last year of undergraduate studies in political economy, and had absolutely no idea what I would do if I ever grew up. As a combined birthday-graduation present, which was also a peace offering after the frosty period that had followed my switching courses, my father gave me a green portable Olivetti typewriter. I had always believed my life would begin at twenty-one -- everything else was mere prelude to this moment. [...] At the beginning of January 1964 I took my typewriter back to Toronto to begin this real life, life at twenty-one, of which I had been so certain. On the day of my return I saw a poster announcing a fiction contest at University College, my college, with a prize large enough to finance a summer trip to Europe."
-- Matt Cohen

Cohen, Matt. Typing: A life in 26 Keys (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2000), pp. 22-23.


"Some universities wouldn't consider hiring me because of the subject matter of the book [John Addington Symonds: A Biography], and I received a number of disturbing anonymous letters. Nevertheless, as a result of the [1964 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction] numerous offers came my way. Professor Clifford Leech, the chairman of the English department at University College at the University of Toronto, offered me a position at $9,000 a year. I was so inexperienced in the ways of academe that I didn't realize I could have negotiated for a higher salary, more in line with the salaries offered to my male colleagues. The only reason I was even considered was that Professor [A.S.P.] Woodhouse, the college's previous chairman, who had refused ever to hire a woman, had recently died. But a teaching post at University College -- for me it was a dream come true."
-- Phyllis Grosskurth

Grosskurth, Phyllis. Elusive Subject: A Biographer's Life (Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1999), p. 89.


These books are available at the UC Library.




The UC Library usually features a historical image on Twitter (@UCLibrary_UofT) about once a week. Since they're so interesting, we decided to post them here too.

Here's an 1835 concept drawing for the University of Toronto -- very different from the actual University College built in the 1850s:

sketch of a large, grand building with lawn, and trees


The first home of the University of Toronto (which was then called King's College), within the Parliament of Upper Canada:

drawing of building with horse and buggy, with caption OLD KING'S COLLEGE


Sir Daniel Wilson was President of University College (1880-92) & U of T  (1887-92). Here he is in 1856 as a professor at not-yet-built UC:

photo of Daniel Wilson standing beside a chair


Here's a photo of University College being built in 1857:

photo of UC exterior under construction with scaffolding


A group of stone carvers outside UC in 1859 (we're still enjoying their fine work today):

Photo of group of men standing in front of south side of University College


The architects of University College were Frederick William Cumberland (1821-1881) and William George Storm (1826–1892). Here we see Storm's name carved on the roof of UC:

colour photo of modern view from roof of UC showing initials W.G. STORM


University College, possibly in 1859 when the building was nearing completion. (Why are there so many rocks on the pathway?)

Photo with UC in background, road with rocks on it in foreground, trees


A lovely early drawing of "the new University College, Toronto, Upper Canada":

Drawing of UC with people chatting in front of the building, a horsedrawn carriage, and two people on horseback


U of T looked very different in 1859! Looking northeast from University College, past the "Senate Tower" on the east side of UC:

Photo showing part of a tower, trees, distant building


Another 19th century view from the University College tower, probably taken in 1865:

Photo showing houses and fields


Cricket anyone? UC & front campus in the early days, as C.W. Jefferys imagined them:

A drawing of cricket players and an agricultural worker with UC in background and caption "The Barley Field - 1870"


A 19th century drawing of University College and front campus:

Drawing of UC with people on grounds in front


Here's a view of UC from the southwest (before there were buildings where these kids are playing):

UC in background, field in foreground with man and children


An early rendition of University College, seen from the southeast, with a horse-drawn carriage:

Drawing of University College seen from the east with a horse drawn carriage in front


The "Metaphysical Class" of 1877, University College:

Group of 11 men, most wearing academic robes


The UC Lit, seen here in 1879, is Canada's oldest democratically elected student government. Originally called the UC Literary and Scientific Society, it was later renamed the Literary and Athletic Society:

Photo of twelve men in suits and academic robes


Did you know there were once gates to the U of T campus at the corner of Yonge & College? Here they are around 1880:

Photo of gates with men and boys standing in entrance


Children enjoying Front Campus at U of T in 1880, with University College in the background:

Photo of eight children on grass with University College in background


The Ramsay Wright building at U of T is named after this University College professor of Natural History, who lived from 1852 to 1933:

Photo of Ramsay Wright with a microscope and pen


A 19th century photo taken from the University College Tower, showing Moss Hall (built 1850, torn down 1888) near the present-day Medical Sciences Building:

View of Moss Hall with fields and trees in foreground and distant buildings in background


George Paxton Young (1818-1889), professor of Logic, Metaphysics & Ethics at UC:

Photo of man with white hair and beard, wearing academic robe


The study of Classics was far more widespread in the 19th century than it is today. Here's a prize-winning essay from 1886:

Photo of the cover page of an essay, which reads "The Influence of Ancient Greek Literature on Modern English Thought, by D.J. MacMurchy, B.A. Prize Essay, Toronto University, 1886"


Stereoscopic view of the UC quadrangle (east side), as it looked before the fire of 1890

Side by side near-identical photos showing a tower, rooftops, and windows


A view of University College from the southeast (1889 drawing):

drawing of college with two horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians, with caption "UNIVERSITY COLLEGE"


The First Annual Banquet of the Lady Undergraduates, University College was held in 1889. Here's the front cover of the programme:

Programme cover illustrated with leaves, with these handwritten words: "THE FIRST ANNUAL BANQUET OF THE LADY UNDERGRADUATES UNIVERSITY COLLEGE TORONTO 16 FEB. '89"


Looking inside, we can see that the banquet opened with a toast to Queen Victoria:

A two-page programme listing music, speeches, toasts, etc.


The Library in University College's East Hall, before the fire of Feb. 14, 1890 destroyed it:

Photo of library showing book-lined alcoves and mezzanine


There used to be a museum in University College's West Hall, until the fire of 1890:

Photo of museum showing display cases and windows


Here's how the museum in UC's West Hall looked after the fire of Feb. 14, 1890:

Photo of museum destroyed by fire, with firemen


University College after the devastating fire of 1890 (view from southeast):

View of damaged college with many pedestrians and carriages in foreground


A group of men (and one dog) in front of University College, after the fire of 1890:

Group of about 30 men, and a small bulldog, in front of college


Here's a photo of "Daniel Wilson at 75," an 1891 George Reid painting of the president of University College and U of T:

Painting shows three views of Daniel Wilson's head and shoulders from three angles


A University College production of the Sophocles play Antigone, in 1894:

About a dozen actors performing on stage in classical costume


The University College Banjo & Guitar Society, 1895:

About 20 men, each holding a banjo or guitar, dressed in academic robes and mortarboards


David Reid Keys, a great promoter of multilingualism, taught at University College from 1882 to 1923:

Photo of David Reid Keys with a beard


Future prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (far left), in his student days at UC in the 1890s:

A young W.L.M. King with four other young men, standing in front of arched doorway


And here's W.L.M. King (standing on left) with friends in residence (then located in the west wing of UC). The future prime minister graduated in 1895.

Photo of W.L.M. with four other young men


Queen's Park, looking West to University College, in 1898:

Photo of horse and buggy between gates of park, with University College in distance


Yes, at one time (around 1900?) you could buy dinner for 20 cents at the U of T dining hall:

Card listing "University of Toronto DINING HALL RATES"


This drawing of University College appeared in a French children's magazine around 1900:

Drawing of college in "LE PETIT FRANCAIS ILLUSTRE" with caption "Aspect extérieur de l'Université de Toronto (Canada)"


The postmark on this early postcard of UC shows it was mailed from New York City in 1905:

colour postcard showing front of college, lawn, pathway with pedestrians


Queen's Hall, a women's residence at UC from 1905 to 1930. The building, located at 7 Queen's Park, no longer exists:

Exterior of building with lawn and wrought iron fence


A group portrait in front of Queen's Hall:

About 20 women posing in doorway of building, wearing academic robes and mortarboards


University College "Junior Arts" football team, 1909-1910:

Photo of about 20 young men on playing field


A wintry view from Queen's Park in 1918 (you can see University College in the distance):

Photo of gates and snowy park with college in distancegates and park under snow,


Soldiers on U of T's front campus for COTC (Canadian Officer Training Corps) Field Day, around 1918:

Photo: distant view of rows of soldiers


An airplane on front campus in 1918 (University College in background):

Airplane landed on grass in front of college


Prof. Barker Fairley (who taught German at University College and was also a painter) hanging out with members of the Group of Seven, at the Arts & Letters Club in Toronto around 1920. Prof. Fairley is fourth from left, smoking a pipe.

8 men sitting aroud a table, with other men at tables in background


An invitation to an "Arts Ball" held by the "UC Lit" in 1928 :

Printed iInvitation to "Arts Ball, In Hart House, Friday January 27th, 1928"


Sir John Cunningham McLennan (1867-1935) graduated from UC in 1892 and became a famous U of T physics prof (the McLennan Physics building is named after him):

Photo of John Cunningham McLennan in suit and hat


A "winter wonderland" (front campus and University College):

snow covered trees with college in background


Aerial shot taken in 1933. You can see Queen's Park, Hart House, University College, and Convocation Hall:

photo: aerial view of buildings, trees, lawns


English professor Mossie May Waddington Kirkwood (1890-1985) taught at University College from 1920 to 1936, before becoming Trinity College's Dean of Women & Principal of St. Hilda's College:

Photo of Mossie May Waddington Kirkwood


Crossing front campus in the 1930s (lots of footprints in the snow):

Aerial photo showing many people crossing front campus, and Convocation Hal


View from behind the grand pillars of Convocation Hall in the 1930s:

Photo of large pillars with building and cars in background


Cricket match on back campus, with UC in the background. The Laidlaw wing on UC's north side did not yet exist:

Photo of men dressed in white, playing cricket, with college in background


Prof. Mary Craig Needler. The daughter of George Henry Needler (Professor of German at UC), she studied Classics at U of T (UC 1922), got a PhD from the University of Chicago, and came back home to University College, where she became Assistant Professor of Ancient History.

Photo of Prof. Mary Needler in academic robe


Looking north towards UC from College Street in 1937:

distant view of college through trees, with cars in foreground


These four young women were the executive of the Women's Undergraduate Association in 1938:

Photo of four young women in academic gowns


Dancing in front of UC's grand main entrance, in 1941:

Photo of men and women dancing in front of the main entrance of University College


Women members of the UC Follies in the 1940s, spelling "UC"!

Photo from above of 16 young women kneeling on floor to form the letters "UC"


Gilbert Norwood (1880-1954), Professor of Classics at UC:

Photo of Gilbert Norwood wearing a 3-piece suit


University College on a very cloudy day:

Photo of front of college with dark clouds above


At a UC Arts Ball, a student being crowned king?

Photo of a woman placing a crown on a man's head, with sign in background: UNIVERSITY COLLEGE ARTS BALL


A winter day at U of T, seen from above University College (look at the  cars in front of Hart House). The domed building was the Magnetic & Meteorological Observatory, which later became the home of the UofT Students' Union.

Aerial photo of campus with Queen's Park in distance


Professor Malcolm Wallace, with UC in the background. Prof. Wallace was the University College Principal (as well as heading the English dept.) from 1928 to 1944.

Photo of Malcolm Wallace wearing mortarboard in front of college


A men's hockey team at University College:

photo of 10 playes in hockey uniforms and one man in a suit and tie


Graduating students in 1953 on their way into Convocation Hall:

Photo of dozens of students lined up in academic robes entering Convocation Hall


University College Council meeting in Croft Chapter House, 1953. There weren't many women on Council in those days!

About 30 people sitting around a large oval table, including about 4 women


Sir Daniel Wilson Residence at University College, in the mid-1950s (it still looks this great today):

Photo of Sir Daniel Wilson residence including clock tower


Program for a 1956 UC production of "Kiss Me Kate" at Hart House, directed by Leon Major (UC '55):

Front cover of theatre programme ("UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Presents...")


U of T librarian & historian W. Stewart Wallace (1884-1970). He wrote a book about the history of U of T that was published in 1927.

photo of William Stewart Wallace, seated, with a book


Close-up view of the intricate patterns on the grand doorway to University College:

Photo of top of arched doorway with geometric patterns


Michel Sanouillet (then a French prof at University College), in the days when people smoked in their offices:

Photo of man in suit with a cigarette in one hand and paper in the other, smiling


The Common Room of UC's Sir Daniel Wilson Residence (which was then a men's residence), around 1960:

Photo of room with couches, chairs, and tables


A.S.P. Woodhouse (1895-1964) got his B.A. at UC in 1919 and went on to become Head of the English Dept. at UC (and a John Milton scholar):

Photo of A.S.P. Woodhouse, wearing a suit


UC's East Hall in 1961-62, when it was a reading room. East Hall was originally a library (from 1859 until the fire of 1890), and more recently it was an exam room. In 2018-19 it's being renovated to become the UC Library once again:

Photo of students reading at tables and desks, with stained glass windows above


Professor Moffat St. Andrews Woodside, who was the Principal of University College from 1959 to 1963 :

Photo of Professor Woodside, seated


Construction of the Laidlaw Wing, on the north side of the UC building, 1963:

Photo of Laidlaw wing partially built, and back campus


When the UC Library opened in the Laidlaw wing in 1964, it occupied the first and second floors  (later reduced to just the second floor):

women looking in card catalogue, with two library service desks in background


These "grotesques" or "gargoyles," near the old chimney for UC's Croft Chapter House, were carved in 1857:

colour photo of two gargoyles and nearby vine leaves


Sillhouetted by a stained glass window at UC, 1970. The University College motto is Parum claris lucem dare: To shed light on that which is obscure.

Black and white photo: silhouettes of two people seemingly holding books, in front of stained glass window


A romantic walk through Sir Dan's Quad, University College, in 1970:

Photo of two people walking with a dog, seen through an archway, with college in background


A 1970 meeting in UC's Croft Chapter House (former chemistry lab, future conference centre):

Photo showing many people seated around the large table in Croft Chapter House


The "dragon staircase" in the east wing dates from the restoration of University College following the fire of 1890. The carved creature has the head of a bird, the body of a lion, and the tail of a serpent (photo from 1973):

Photo of ornate wooden carving of gryphone on staircase bannister


Professor of German at University College (and also a UC alumna), Margaret Jane Sinden (1915-1979) was one of the first women at U of T to attain the rank of professor.

Photo of Prof. Sinden holding a cigarette, in front of bookshelves


Isn't this a nice photo of Prof. Peter Richardson at his 1977 installation as University College Principal?

Photo of Professor Richardson smiling during installation as Principal


Library orientation for new students, 1977: "How to find books: the microcatalogue way":

Photo of student holding a telephone receiver and looking at a screen with instructions


University College at night, with (unusually) a reflection:

Photo of front of college at night, with a reflection of the buidling in the foreground


A lovely photo of the late Ingrid Epp, University College Librarian, in 1984:

Photo of Ingrid Epp sitting at a desk, smiling, with bookshelves behind her


East Hall -- former and future University College Library -- with rows of desks for examinations (photo from 1980s or 1990s):

Colour photo of East Hall, including rows of empty desks and stained glass window