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University of Toronto
U of T Great Past

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Photo: Michael Visser


Some students bring their favourite teacher a nice shiny apple, but none of that for the pupils of John Strachan, some 20 of whom reunited in July of 1833 to present him with this epergne. Strachan, an Anglican bishop, was the founder and first president of King's College (which became U of T in 1850). However, when he saw that the government wanted a secular university, he resigned and founded Trinity College.

Years before, he served as a schoolmaster in Cornwall, Upper Canada - and it was his former grammar school charges (one would become a chief justice and another the Anglican rector of Montreal), who proffered the gift. Pronounced "eh-pern," the silver table centrepiece, used to hold dried fruit and candy, was made by British goldsmiths at the phenomenal cost of £230.

The small bowls are supported by four classical figures representing religion, poetry, geography and history, and on the base are the names of more than 40 gentlemen whom Strachan helped to educate. After Strachan's death in 1867, Religion, Poetry, Geography and History were sent off to Trinity College.

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