Colleges and Universities


Newman Club of the University of Toronto (NEW-UN)

Red brick and terracotta house with turrets
The Newman Centre—formerly the 1891 W.D. Matthews house

Location: 89 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2E8 (corner of Hoskin Avenue and St. George Street; on the University of Toronto campus; across from the Robarts Library)

Opened: 1913

Alternate or former names: Newman Centre, Newman Centre for Catholic Life on Campus

Pre-1998 municipality: Toronto

Type of school: University-associated club

Newman Centres were established in many countries to provide pastoral care to Roman Catholic students attending secular universities. The writings of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) inspired the movement. The Toronto Newman Centre is housed in the Wilmot Deloui Matthews house (completed in 1891). Matthews (1850-1919) attended Toronto Normal School before entering his father’s grain business and becoming a successful and influential Toronto businessman. The Romanesque Revival two-and-one-half storey building is constructed of red clay, terra cotta bricks, and plum-coloured Credit Valley sandstone, with many decorative touches. It is similar in style to the former Gooderham house at the northeast corner of Bloor and St. George streets, which is currently (2018) the home of the York Club. The Newman Club is under the direction of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, and is associated with St. Thomas Aquinas Church—sometimes referred to as the Newman Chapel—next door.

1900-1912: Enrolment of Roman Catholic students at the University of Toronto increased. St. Michael’s College was at the time a separate university. The Newman Club formed to give these students a welcoming place on the U of T campus, with “emphasis on the union of faith and reason.” Newman balls and banquets were part of the social life.

1913: Archbishop Neil McNeil purchased and furnished 97 Joseph Street (on St. Michaels’s campus) for the club. The Newman Club chapel was also on St. Joseph Street at that time. The archbishop invited Paulist priests from New York to be chaplains. They remained in charge until 1936. The executive included a president, two or more vice presidents, and treasurer—all of whom were students. A rector or chaplain, the editor of The Torch publication, and an alumni representative rounded out the governing group.

1915: Newman Alumni Association held its first annual dinner. The tradition continued until the 1980s.

1921 Dec 27: Letters patent received. The purpose of the limited company in Ontario was: To establish, provide, furnish and maintain quarters for students attending educational institutions in the City of Toronto, and to assist in the religious, moral, physical and mental welfare of such students.

1922: The Newman Club moved to 89 St. George Street. Senator Frank P. O’Connor, president of the board for a number of years, was a prominent guarantor of the purchase of this property from the Wilmot D. Matthews estate. The new address was on the U of T campus. The ballroom—which had been added to the house in 1898 by architect George Martel Miller—served as a chapel while architect W.W. Holmes designed a new chapel.

1926 Sept 26: Cornerstone laid for the chapel, named for St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of students.

1927 Mar 27: Chapel inaugurated and blessed by Archbishop Neil McNeil. The coach house of the Matthews house had been demolished to make room for the Gothic Revival chapel, built of Credit Valley and Indiana limestone. Maximum occupancy: three hundred.

1934: When the club leased a neighbouring property at 107 St. George Street as a women’s residence, 89 St. George became the men’s residence.
1934: The club held a testimonial dinner at the King Edward Hotel for Senator Frank O’Connor’s 50th birthday.

1946: The Archdiocese of Toronto became the owner of 107 St. George.

1950: Third Newman Club pilgrimage to Rome. Chaplain—Rev. J.E. McHenry—and some Newmanites met Pope Pius XII.

1951: The Archdiocese conveyed 107 St. George Street to the Newman Club Ltd.

1957: James Cardinal McGuigan asked the Basilian Fathers to manage the Newman Centre. Rev. T.A. McDonald was the first of the Basilian chaplains.

1958: The Newman Foundation of Ontario—incorporated as a charitable foundation—replaced the Newman Club Ltd. Students were now members of the Newman Foundation. The foundation’s purpose: To advance religion at the University of Toronto and other institutions of higher education in and around the City of Toronto.

1963: Newman Alumni Association held a Gold Jubilee Reunion.

1970: U of T expropriated the 107 St. George Street property; the Newman Foundation paid for it.

1971: U of T agreed not to expropriate 69 St. George Street and St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel.

1976: The Ontario Heritage Foundation designated the 89 St. George Street property to be of architectural value.

Framed memorial hangs to the left of stained glass window
The memorial hangs near a chapel window honouring St. Thomas Aquinas and Cardinal Newman

1994: Resident students were designated Student Campus Ministers, a role established by Fr. Thomas Rosica.

1995: Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic established St. Thomas Aquinas as a quasi-parish.

2002: Newman Centre participated in World Youth Day, Toronto.

2010: Josh Canning assumed the newly-created position of Director of Chaplaincy Services.

2012: The University of Toronto recognized the Newman Catholic Students’ Club (NCSC) as a student club of U of T.

2013 June 9: Newman 100 Years celebration. Mass followed by a festival of music, food, and exhibits of Newman’s history.

NOTE: Much of the history given above came from displays featured at the 100th anniversary fête, which were prepared by the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto (ARCAT).


Memorial transcribed:
NEW-UN-a: (WWII): Illuminated list designed by A.J. Casson. “For King and Country / Members of / Newman Club of University of Toronto / who have volunteered for active service / with / Canada’s fighting forces.” Six columns of names; given names followed by surnames. Names are in random (not alphabetical) order. No key. List does not specify which war, but the presence of women’s names, and the use of an A.J. Casson document, indicate World War II. The memorial hangs in St. Thomas Aquinas Church (or Newman Chapel) close to a stained glass window honouring Thomas Aquinas and Cardinal Newman, and their writings.

NOTE: Brian Horgan, a lifetime member of the Irish Regiment of Canada, who has several McDonough relatives on the Newman list, says that some of these U of T students would have been too young for active service, but went through training in case they were called upon later. His father, Gerald Horgan, a major in the Irish Regiment, also on the Newman list, did go overseas in 1943.

St. Michael’s College (SMC-UN)

Exterior of college
St. Michael’s College from Queen’s Park Crescent, with central archway leading to the memorial “slype” (passage).

Location: 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto, M5S 1J4 (south of Bloor Street West; between Bay Street on the east and Queen’s Park Crescent on the west)

Opened: 1852

Alternate or former names: University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto (official name), St. Mike’s (informal), Bay Street Fighting Irish (nickname)

Pre-1998 municipality: Toronto

Type of school: University. Federated College of the University of Toronto since 1910. Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic Church

Motto: Goodness, Discipline, Knowledge
Student Newspaper: The Mike (bi-weekly; began 1947)
Colours: blue and yellow; green added later

St. Michael’s College was founded in 1852 as a boys’ school to provide what we would today call a combined high school and university education. In 1950, the high school division of the college separated from the college, and moved to new quarters at St. Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street, under the name St. Michael’s College School. St. Michael’s College, the university component, remained on the St. George campus of the University of Toronto. Thus, the school and the university share history, particularly in the faithfulness of their religious outlook, and in their reputations of having strong sports teams—especially hockey. A Toronto Daily Star feature in March 1949 listed one sign of spring as “lads from St. Michael’s College taking home their hockey equipment for summer storage.”

St. Michael’s College School can be found elsewhere on this website. See under: Independent Schools.

From its earliest days, St. Michael’s attracted recent Irish immigrants and Canadians of Irish descent. The predominantly Anglo culture of Toronto at the time was often unwelcoming—even hostile—to Roman Catholics and to the Irish in general. St. Mike’s nickname of “Bay Street Fighting Irish” stemmed from another Roman Catholic institution that welcomed the Irish: the University of Notre Dame in Indiana—known as “The Fighting Irish.” References in the sports pages of local newspapers reinforced the theme. Headlines such as “Ghosts Rout Irish” meant that the Cobourg Ghosts had defeated St. Michael’s College 19 to 0. (Toronto Star, October 17, 1949.)

Continuing their Irish interests, St. Michael’s College runs a strong Celtic Studies program, offering undergraduate courses on the languages and culture of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The program attracts visiting professors and scholars—many from Ireland.

Selected Dates in the Development of St. Michael’s College:
1852: Michael Power, the first Roman Catholic bishop of Toronto died in 1847 from typhus he contracted while helping victims of the disease. His successor, Bishop Armand Comte de Charbonnel, who had emigrated from France, noted that there was no university-level theological training for the approximately 5,900 residents of the city identified as members of his flock. He wrote to the Basilian Fathers of Annonay, France asking if they would develop an appropriate educational institution in Toronto. Later that year, the Reverend Jean-Mathieu Soulerin arrived, and with four other Basilians, opened St. Mary’s Lesser Seminary. Classes began that fall.

1853: Bishop de Charbonnel merged St. Mary’s Lesser Seminary and St. Michael’s College—which had just started at the secondary school level under the Christian Brothers—into St. Michael’s College. Father Soulerin was the first Superior of the new institution. Overall, the Basilian Fathers organized studies at high school, college, and seminary levels. Training young men for the priesthood was a priority.

Captain John Elmsley (1801-1863) retired from the Royal Navy, and a convert to Roman Catholicism, donated four lots of his Clover Hill estate to St. Michael’s College in one of his many acts of philanthropy. Elmsley managed the extensive land holdings of his father, also John Elmsley (1762-1805) who had been chief justice of both Upper and Lower Canada. The estate land given to St. Michael’s was adjacent to the University of Toronto. A condition of the gift was that a parish church be built on the property. This led to the establishment of St. Basil’s Church.

1855: Incorporation of the college granted royal assent.

1855 Sept 15: Cornerstone laid for St. Basil’s Church.

1856 Sept 14: St. Basil’s Church opened for worship.

1856 Sept 15: St. Michael’s College opened.

1881: St. Michael’s became affiliated with the University of Toronto. Students could get a degree through University College, but St. Michael’s would teach its own philosophy and history from a religious point of view.

1909: First St. Michael’s student to graduate from the U of T.

1910: St. Michael’s became an official Federated College in the University of Toronto.

1911 May: A class of six students graduated.

1946: Marshall McLuhan was among the first lay faculty members hired. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he taught English, but became famous internationally for his studies of the effects of mass media on society.

1969: St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology became one of the founding colleges of the Toronto School of Theology.

The grounds of St. Michael’s College currently form the eastern end of the U of T campus—with Victoria College to the north; Regis College to the south. There are currently (2019) twenty-two buildings belonging to St. Michael’s, many named for people important to the college’s history or religious focus. A few of these are:

John M. Kelly Library: After a number of locations and expansions, the new library opened in 1969 at 113 St. Joseph Street. In 1978, it was renamed for John M. Kelly, president of St. Michael’s from 1958 to 1978. The main collection dates back to the 1852 founding of the college. A catalogue dated 1892 listed 3,401 volumes. In 1929, the opening of the Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies spurred the organization of many scholarly texts from small collections around the campus. In 2019, described on its website as “the largest federated college library at U of T,” it notes special emphasis on: Roman Catholic theology, the Middle Ages, book history and media, Celtic Studies, English, French, Italian, Slavic, and German literature. The collection of St. Michael’s College yearbooks dates from 1910.

Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies: When founded in 1929 by French mediævalist Étienne Gilson and Henry Carr of St. Michael’s College, this was the only specialized graduate-level institution in its field. In 1939, Pope Pius XII granted the institute a papal charter. Studies at first based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas broadened to include other academic disciplines. Recognized internationally for its scholarly research.

Carr Hall: Designed by Ernest Cormier, who also designed the Supreme Court building in Ottawa. Named for Father Henry Carr, (1880-1963) a Basilian who promoted Roman Catholic colleges at secular universities. In the early 1900s, he modernized the curriculum of St. Michael’s College, turning what had been a modest institution into a noted arts college.

Published history:
Friedland, Martin L. The University of Toronto: a History. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. 764 p., illustrations, portraits.


Passageway with names inscribed on the wall
View of St Michael’s College campus through the memorial arch

Memorials transcribed:
Between two of St. Mike’s residences— More and Fisher houses—is a passageway that connects Queen’s Park Crescent East and the college quad. The memorials for former students who died in the two World Wars and the Korean War are inscribed along the wall. Twelve arched sandstone panels. Panel (i) Inscribed crest. Saint Michael’s / College / Honours its members / Who gave their lives in war / Requiescant in pace. Panel (ii) Inscription in Greek. This is translated into English in Panel (iii); a lyric fragment by Simonides about those who died in the battle of Thermopylae. Panel (iii) In place of lamentation / There is remembrance / And pity is become praise.

SMC-UN-a: WWI: Panels (iv) and (v) World War I: 22 names and 11 names respectively; alphabetical order; given names followed by surnames; a cross at the top of each arch.

SMC-UN-b: WWII: Panels (vi) to (xi) World War II: 22 names each, except for Panel (xi) which has 17 names; given names followed by surnames; a cross at the top of each arch.

SMC-UN-c: Korean War: Panel (xii) Korean Conflict: one name; a cross at the top of the arch.

Victoria College (VIC-UN)

Elaborate Richardsonian Romanesque building
Stereoscope slide of Victoria College. Toronto Reference Library, BR 982-26-1

Location: 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 (south of Bloor Street West, at Charles Street West; east off Queen’s Park Crescent. On the northeastern portion of the University of Toronto campus.)

Opened: 1836 (in Cobourg, Ontario)

Alternate or former names: Upper Canada Academy; Victoria College (since 1841); Victoria University; Vic (informal)

Pre-1998 municipality: Toronto

Type of school: University. Federated college of the University of Toronto since 1890. Governed by Victoria University Board of Regents and the Victoria University Senate.

Original cornerstone mounted above the WW1 memorial at Victoria College, Toronto. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Motto: Abeunt studia in mores—Studies pass into character
Victoria is a wealthy college, not only because of alumni generosity, but also because of prime real estate holdings—such as the Colonnade, at 131 Bloor Street West—in central Toronto. The history of Victoria College—particularly in the early days—is entwined with the history of the Methodist (later the United) Church of Canada.

1831: A committee of Methodist church faithful had raised funds for an academy on four acres of land in Cobourg, Ontario (east of Toronto) on Lake Ontario. The site—on a rise of land near the northeast edge of the town—was chosen for its convenient land and water access.

1832 June 7: Cornerstone laid for a three-storey Greek Revival brick and stucco building designed by architect Edward Crane. (Building cost: $40,000.)

1836 June 18: Opened as Upper Canada Academy. Founded by royal charter from King William IV. The government of Upper Canada had hesitated to provide a charter to a Methodist institution. The school offered a variety of liberal arts subjects, but also functioned as an unofficial Methodist seminary.

1836 Oct 12: Official opening for male and female students under the Reverend Egerton Ryerson, as president. Ryerson was a Methodist minister, author, newspaper editor, and public education advocate. He had travelled to England, soliciting money and arranging to get a charter for the academy. The first principal was Matthew Ritchie.

1841: Incorporated as Victoria College; named for Queen Victoria. A charter received from the Upper Canadian Legislature gave Victoria the power to grant degrees—the second institution in Upper Canada to have degree-granting powers.

1842 June 21: Egerton Ryerson inducted as principal.

1842 Oct: University-level instruction began. Women excluded from the college.

1845: First convocation. The first B.A. was granted to Oliver Springer.

1878: Faraday Hall built to house Science Department. (Destroyed by fire in mid-1900s.)

1878 May: Acta Victoriana founded. It is the oldest continuous literary journal in Canada.

1884: Victoria College merged with Albert College, in Belleville, to form Victoria University. 1890: Federated with the University of Toronto.

1892: The last graduating class from the Cobourg campus. The college moved from Cobourg to Toronto, to the dismay of the Cobourg Council. (College activities had enlivened the town.) The main Toronto building, “Old Vic,” designed by architect W.G. Storm, is an example of Richardsonian Romanesque style.

1897: The government of Ontario bought the vacant Cobourg building, which changed architecturally over the years. In 1900, it became the Cobourg Insane Asylum. From 1920 until 1970, it was D’Arcy Place (a part of the Ontario Hospital system). The building was later turned into a retirement residence. It is a designated heritage site of both the province of Ontario and the town of Cobourg. See also: World War I (below).

1899: The Methodist Church Archives established at Victoria University.

1903 Oct 1: Annesley Hall, the college’s oldest residence and the first residence in Canada built specifically for women, opened on the corner of Queen’s Park and Charles Street West. Named for Susannah Annesley, mother of John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism. Intended as a home of “high moral tone” for the “daughters of Methodism.” Largely financed by the estate of businessman and philanthropist Hart Almerrin Massey. Massey had attended three sessions at Victoria College when it was in Cobourg. The Masseys were Methodists. Designed by George M. Miller, in an eclectic style sometimes called “Jacobethan.”

1910: Formal opening of the Birge-Carnegie Library, Victoria’s main library until the

1961 opening of the E.J. Pratt Library.

1913: Victoria Student Council formed.

1913: Second residence, the Neo-Gothic Burwash Hall, completed—another gift of the estate of Hart Almerrin Massey. Named for Nathanael Burwash, a Methodist minister and chancellor and president of Victoria from 1842 to 1845. (Initially consisted of four houses of residence: North, Middle, Gate, and South.) An all-male residence until 1995, when it became co-ed. The adjoining Burwash Dining Hall is the University of Toronto’s largest, with a capacity for 250 students. Architects: Sproatt and Rolph.
World War I (1914-1918): Of the 530 students and graduates who served, 75died. The Cobourg building became the Cobourg Military Convalescent Hospital, where wounded soldiers were treated until 1920.

1925: Methodists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists joined to form the United Church of Canada.

1925: Wymilwood, 84 Queen’s Park, opened as a residence and social centre for women. Donated by financier Edward Rogers Wood and his wife Agnes, a Victoria Women’s Association member.

1926: Dancing, prohibited at the University of Toronto until 1896, did not become officially permissible at Victoria until this date. (Methodists traditionally frowned on dancing, card playing, gambling, smoking, and the consumption of alcohol.)

1928: Presbyterians who had not joined the church union to form the new United Church retained Knox College (the building) at the University of Toronto, but the Knox faculty and most students left to form “Union College” with the theology department of Victoria. Shortly afterward, it was renamed Emmanuel College and associated with the new United Church of Canada. Emmanuel offered theological and post-graduate studies, formalizing religious education that had been a part of the curriculum since Victoria’s earliest days. Victoria continued to offer secular undergraduate studies.

1930: Emmanuel College (as part of Victoria University) affiliated with The United Church Training School situated in Toronto. The arrangement lasted 40 years. The United Church Training School was the new (1926) name for the Methodist National Training School, established 1894 as a training school for deaconesses.

1931: Lower Houses of Burwash Hall, intended for Emmanuel College’s theology students, completed.

1932: The 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of Upper Canada Academy was observed by a pilgrimage to Cobourg.
World War II (1939-1945): More than 1400 students and graduates enlisted; 79 died.

1937: Reba E. Hern became the first woman to receive a diploma from Emmanuel College.

1940 Sept: Stephenson House, a self-governing “community involvement” residence for male undergraduate students, opened at 63 Charles Street West. Its purpose was “to assist worthy students in Victoria College who plan to enter the ministry of the United Church of Canada for home or foreign service.” Named for Dr. Frederick Stephenson, an Emmanuel College professor, whose wife had suggested the project, Stephenson House continued its cooperative housing operation in several locations, subsidized by Victoria College. In the 1980s, it began to accept applications from women. It is currently (2014) at 63 and 65 Charles Street West.

1951: Victoria Reports (later Vic Report) the alumni publication, founded.

1951 Oct 12: Cornerstone laid for Wymilwood Student’s Union.

1952: Student newspaper The Strand founded.

1953: Archives was given space in the Wymilwood building. The Archivist/Historian was jointly appointed by the United Church and Victoria University.

1959: Margaret Addison Hall, a seven-storey residence for women, opened. Named for Margaret Addison, dean of Annesley Hall from 1903 to 1931.

1961: The new Victoria College Library opened. (Renamed E.J. Pratt Library in 1967.) Built on the south end of the quadrangle, it contains some 4,000 rare books (mostly pre-1700); modern books (in 2014, about 25,000 volumes) and several thousand microfiches and reels.

1966 Nov 1: New Academic Building opened.

1967: The main library (built in 1961) was renamed the E.J. Pratt Library in honour of the poet and teacher whose manuscripts are housed there.

1970: Emmanuel College became a partner in the Toronto School of Theology.

1972: The United Church of Canada Archives moved into the Birge-Carnegie Library building.

1982: Initiation of the Jackman Project: History of the Methodist Church in Canada.

1983 June 3: New Academic Building renamed Northrop Frye Hall.

1984: Victoria University Archives also moved to the Birge-Carnegie Library, sharing space with the United Church Archives.

1986: Sesquicentennial celebrated.

1988: Burwash Dining Hall reopened after a year of extensive renovation and restoration. It was now open to the entire Victoria community, including female residents, who had until then used separate dining facilities. Annesley Hall also renovated.

1989: Northrop Frye Centre established to perpetuate work in literary criticism and theory, the arts and religion. Northrop Frye (1912-1991) was considered one of the most influential 20th century thinkers in this field.

1989 Oct 21: Annesley Hall officially rededicated. (It is a National Historic Site of Canada.)

1991: Friends of Victoria University Library formed.

1992: Annual Victoria College Book Sale began.

1992 Oct 17: Old Vic centenary celebrated, following the sod-turning ceremony for the Rowell Jackman Hall.

1993 Oct 2: Newest residence, Rowell-Jackman Hall (eight storeys; apartment-style) built on site of historic Stephenson House, which relocated farther east on Charles Street.

1991: Friends of Victoria University Library formed.

2001 March: Isabel Bader Theatre opened, serving as a lecture hall, concert, film, and theatre venue, conference centre and much more.

2007: Gate House, one of the four Upper Houses of Burwash Hall, and one of the last all-male residences at the University of Toronto, became co-ed.

2008: The United Church Archives left Victoria University to form a separate United Church Archives in Etobicoke.

2011 May 28: Groundbreaking ceremony for the Goldring Student Centre.

Published history: See websites below.

Websites: A wealth of information about Victoria College, including a detailed timeline from 1829 to the present day. The digital collection (3,906 items and growing) is searchable. NOTE: Just as Victoria College and the United Church are entwined, the Victoria College (University) Archives and the United Church Archives share much history. At the bottom of the timeline mentioned above, is a summary of their connections and locations over the years.

Large memorial listing names flanked by swords.
Bronze WWII war memorial at Victoria College, Toronto. Although “Great War” traditionally refers to World War I, the term was used on this Second World War memorial. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Memorials transcribed:
VIC-UN-a (WWI): Bronze (deaths): East side of the main archway. Above the Victoria crest (in relief) and motto; with a mourning angel and sword pointed downward (also in relief) on each side: They were valiant in life triumphant in death / Erected / to the Memory / of the Students of / this College who gave / Their lives in the Great / War 1914-1918. Two columns. Given names followed by surnames. The last name, “Douglas A. Wright,” appears at the bottom, between the two columns. At the base of the memorial: This tablet was presented to Victoria College / by the Alumni and Alumnae Associations and / Dedicated October 19th 1923.

NOTE: The Library’s timeline notes 67 WWI deaths; our index shows 75.

VIC-UN-b (WWII): Bronze (deaths): West side of the main archway. Above the Victoria crest (in relief) and motto; with a mourning angel and sword pointed downward (also in relief) on each side: They were valiant in life triumphant in death. Erected / to the Memory / of the students of / this College who gave / their lives in the Great War 1939-1945. Two columns. Given names followed by surnames. The last name, “Harold James Young,” appears at the bottom, between the two columns. At the base of the memorial: This Tablet was erected / by the Board of Regents and / dedicated October 13th, 1953.

NOTE: The Library’s timeline lists 76 WWII deaths; our index shows 79. “The Great War” traditionally refers to the First World War, but the term is used on this memorial for the Second World War.