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Helen Hogg - Astronomer and Faculty Stephen Leacock - Humorist and Graduate Elsie MacGill - Engineer and Graduate
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University of Toronto
U of T Great Past
Page Title A Rich Tradition

The University of Toronto is Canada's leading teaching and research university, and its unique place in the national landscape can be attributed, in part, to its rich and remarkable history.

Take a moment to explore our illustrious past, and learn more about the people and events that have made U of T the great institution it is today.

Historical Timeline

1827 Who was an early advocate for higher education in "Upper Canada"?

1827 What university was founded 175 years ago?

1843 What Irish scholar broke the "only English" rule at King's College, U of T's precursor?

1849 How does history remember the conversion of King's College to the University of Toronto?

1850 Why did U of T have to give up the old King's College site in the 1850's?

1852 When Trinity College first opened its doors, how many students walked through?

1852 What opportunity did the French Basilians seize in 1852 after the Jesuits said no thanks?
Photo image of Kings College 1829
Photo image of workers in 1857

1853 What could a first-rate professor at U of T expect to earn in 1853?

1856 Why does University College face south when the governor general wanted it to face west?

1866 In what battle did the U of T's University Rifle Corps first see action?

1878 What disciplines were launched in U of T's "Little Red Skulehouse"?

1880 What was front page news in the inaugural issue of the student paper The Varsity?

1887 What medical school was recognized as among the "best on the continent" within 20 years of its opening?

1888 What theological college bucked the federation trend with U of T?

1889 What law school produced the first woman barrister in the British Empire?

1890 What was so heartbreaking about Valentine's Day, 1890?

1890 What town fought to keep its college from joining U of T?

1892 What extracurricular activities at U of T were forbidden until 1892?

1895 What made the "blood fairly boil" in student and future prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King?

1897 Who put the "research" in Canada's most research-intensive university?

1900 How many alumni chapters did the University of Toronto have at the turn of the last century?

1906 Which female professor earned a place in "American Men in Science"?

1907 Who started teaching prospective teachers how to teach?
Photo of the UC fire in 1890
Photo of Banting and best 1923
1910 How many students called U of T home in 1910?

1914 Why did students march at Hart House under the command of a chemistry professor?

1914 Who directed 13 performances of The Mikado as a prisoner in a civilian internment camp during the First World War?

1916 Who was a vocal advocate for more research and headed the precursor to Canada's National Research Council?

1920 Why were the 1920's very good years for U of T men's hockey teams?

1921 What university theatre was the centre of the cultural universe (okay, in Toronto)?

1923 What medical discovery at U of T was greeted by a standing ovation and the Nobel Prize?

1923 Which team of physicists first produced liquid helium in Canada?

1924 What structure was created as a permanent memorial to the men and women who served, and those who died, in World War II?

1933 What major gifts were made to U of T during the Great Depression?

1942 How many U of T students and alumni served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the World War II?

1942 Whose research was a boon to pilots and was first used by Royal Navy aircraft?

1950 What did the University of Western Ontario have to say about a new business school at U of T?

1951 What did Northrop Frye's wife have to do with U of T's emerging student diversity?

1952 What U of Tprofessor influenced communications guru Marshall McLuhan?

1954 At what time of day could women enter the newly-built arbor room at Hart House?

1957 What U of T alumnus first sank his teeth into journalism at the student paper?

1957 What helped launch Slavic studies as a growth discipline at the University of Toronto?
Photo of cheerleaders 9153
Photo of SAC president being arrested 1972

1959 Who was luring Canadian scholars back from the United States?

1966 In the "tuned in" sixties, what post-secondary school was planned as a TV college?

1967 What university campus opened with a "preliminary" building that still stands?

1969 What was a Canadian first for U of T in the activist sixties?

1972 What was the setting for another chapter in U of T student activism?

1972 What university president came from a large family of U of T graduates?

1972 What university library is the length of a Canadian football field from goal post to goal post?

1979 What landmark Toronto building came close to being located on the campus of U of T?

1986 What woke U of T chemist John Polanyi on the morning of Oct. 15, 1986?

2002 Who marked a milestone on March 15, 2002?

175 Anniversary Cake Cutting, March 2002

The Making of a
Great Institution

On March 15, 1827, King's College, the precursor to U of T, was granted its royal charter by King George IV. In the years since its founding , the university has been home to a series of colourful presidents, professors and students, notable intellectual figures like Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, and dramatic turning points such as the admission of women in the 1880s, the University College fire of 1890, involvement in the two world wars, the student protests of the 1960s and the new wave of building and renewal in the present day.

Nearly two centuries of growth have yielded spectacular results. With campuses in downtown Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough, U of T has over 9,000 faculty and staff, and more than 60,000 graduate and undergraduate students and an endowment fund that exceeds $1.3 billion. Its library ranks fifth among major North American universities.

U of T has been the birthplace of major research achievements such as the discovery of insulin, the creation of the first electronic heart pacemaker, the single lung transplant and the discovery of the gene responsible for the most severe form of Alzheimer's disease. Recent advances include the discovery of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis, cloning of the T-cell gene, and the world's first nerve transplant.

The century old University of Toronto Press has published and continues to publish such major endeavours as The Historical Atlas of Canada and the Complete Works of Erasmus. The more than 300,000 alumni who have earned their degrees from U of T represent leadership in virtually every field of learning. Six Nobel Prize winners are U of T graduates.

To view a timeline of some of the great research achievements at the university, click here.

To view a timeline of UTSC's history, click here.

If you are a member of the media interested in news and events at
U of T, click here for a list of experts who can discuss the university's past, current scholarship and future research trends.

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