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The Founding College of the University of Toronto
Drawing of University College with people chatting, a horse-drawn carriage, and two people on horseback

UC History in Pictures: 1850s & 1860s

Images from the 1850s and 1860s at University College (and the University of Toronto), compiled by the UC Librarian.

sketch of a large, grand building with lawn and trees
An 1835 concept drawing for the University of Toronto -- very different from what was eventually built in the 1850s.
drawing of building with horse and buggy, with caption OLD KING'S COLLEGE
The first home of the University of Toronto, which was then called King's College, within the Parliament of Upper Canada.
Fifteen names under the heading "Arts - 1854" and one name under the heading "Law - 1854"
An 1853 Act established University College as a non-sectarian college of U of T. The following year, Edward Blake was among 16 UC graduates; he went on to became premier of Ontario and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. (List from "FASTI, 1850-1887.")
Daniel Wilson standing beside a chair
Sir Daniel Wilson was President of University College (1880-92) & U of T (1887-92). Here he is in 1856 as a professor, before UC was built.
James Ross, seated
James Ross (UC 1857), a teacher, public servant, journalist, and lawyer from the Red River Settlement. His mother was a member of the Syilx Okanagan First Nation; his father was a fur trader and politician from Scotland. (Photo: Archives of Manitoba.)
University College exterior under construction with scaffolding and workers
University College during construction in 1857: this shows the west and central sections of the south facade, before the main entrance was built.
UC exterior under construction with blocks of stone and workers
The east section of the south facade of UC, during construction in 1857.
Croft Chapter House and partially constructed building with carriage and two men in front
The southwest corner of UC during construction, around 1858. Croft Chapter House, on the left (at that time known as the Round Room) was originally a chemistry lab.
Group of more than 25 men standing in front of University College
A group of stone carvers outside UC around 1858. We're still enjoying their fine work today.
Top part of a tower, trees, distant building
U of T looked very different in 1859! Looking northeast from University College, past the Senate Tower on the east side of UC.
view from roof of University College with words "W.G. STORM", with modern cityscape beyond
The architects of University College were Frederick William Cumberland (1821-1881) and William George Storm (1826–1892). Here we see Storm's name, many years after it was carved on the roof of UC.
University College in background, road with rocks in foreground, trees
This photo of University College may have been taken in 1859 when the building was nearing completion.
Drawing of University College with people chatting, a horse-drawn carriage, and two people on horseback
An early drawing of "the new University College, Toronto, Upper Canada."
Painting showing University College in the distance; in the foreground are a creek, a bridge, trees, and three people.
Henry Martin, Toronto University from the College Road, 1861, watercolour, 37.5 x 104.8 cm. Gift of Professor Claude Bissell, circa 1955. University College Collection UC332, Art Museum University of Toronto. (Taddle Creek was buried by 1884.)
Cover of song sheet with title "University Galop", dedication, and drawing of University College
A song sheet for "University Galop," which was dedicated to students and alumni of University College (probably circa 1863).
Field in foreground with man and children, University College in background
Looking northeast from St. George Street towards University College (perhaps in the 1860s?), before there were buildings erected where these kids were playing.
Invitation to a Nov. 3, 1865 meeting of the University College Literary and Scientific Society
The University College Literary & Scientific Society held its first public meeting in 1865. The UC Lit is still going strong today (now called the the UC Literary & Athletic Society).
Houses and fields
Toronto (vastly different from today) as seen from the University College tower, probably in 1865.
invitation to the University College Literary and Scientific Society's Annual Conversazione, March 29, 1867
A personalized invitation to the Annual Conversazione held by the UC Literary and Scientific Society (UC Lit) in 1867.
Page containing five letters of recommendation under the heading "Copies of Testimonials from professors of Toronto University"
A glimpse of life at U of T in 1869: testimonials about UC student John Read Teefy (UC 1871), who, years later, was instrumental in St. Michael's University becoming affiliated with U of T. (Courtesy of Toronto Public Library's Baldwin Collection)