March 15, 1827, King's College - the precursor to the University of
Toronto - was granted its royal charter by King George IV. Throughout
2002, U of T celebrated 175 years of Great Minds. As part of the
celebration, the U of T website featured excerpts from The
University of Toronto: A History, written by Martin Friedland, University
Professor and Professor Emeritus of Law at U of T.
of [President Claude] Bissell's first tasks on assuming office was
a fund-raising campaign. Alumni had given generously in the past --
to construct Convocation Hall at the beginning of the century and Soldiers'
Tower after the Great War -- but there had never been a successful campaign
at the University of Toronto aimed at the general public.
The campaign was more
than successful. Within about a year, over $15 million had been
1958, the board agreed to launch the "National Fund" campaign
for $12.6 million, even though their expert advisers warned them that
their case was "weak" on account of the public's perception
that higher education was a government responsibility.
was launched in the spring of 1959, with the full support of the federated
universities, which were to share in the proceeds. Five hundred corporate
canvassers attended a fund-raising meeting at the King Edward Hotel.
The board members personally contributed almost half a million dollars,
as did the staff, said to be "the largest staff contribution ever recorded
in North America."
Bissell worked hard to make the campaign a success. "I am anxious that
the campaign, by its success," he wrote in his diary, "and by intense
(but discreet) publicity establish Toronto as The Canadian University."
The campaign generated a great amount of favourable publicity. One Globe
and Mail headline in 1959, for example, read, "Bissell Proposes
Scholars Be Lured Home from U.S." Toronto, the story said, was encouraging
senior scholars to return to Canada to help train the teachers who would
soon be needed. The campaign was more than successful. Within about
a year, over $15 million had been raised.
that had been designated as recipients of the money started to appear,
including, on the east side of St George Street, engineering's Galbraith
Building, and on the west side, the Ramsay Wright Zoological Laboratories,
the Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories, and the McLennan Physical Laboratories,
with its Burton Tower. The cornerstone of the arts building, named after
Sidney Smith, who had died suddenly of a heart attack the previous year,
was laid in October 1960, and the building was opened a year later.
design for the new physics and arts buildings
to John Parkin's design of the arts building was mixed. "There
are lively reactions to the building," Bissell wrote to W.A. Mackintosh,
the principal of Queen's, who would speak at the opening, "ranging
all the way from the enthusiastic to the hysterically critical. I find
that the attitude depends upon the kind of quarters from which the individual
came." The historians were unhappy because they had been forced
to give up their comfortable quarters in Flavelle House, which would
be occupied by the faculty of law. Moreover, Sidney Smith Hall was uncomfortable
in warm weather because the low-cost air conditioning system was not
adequate for a building with so much glass.
Smith Hall opens (1960)
even problems with the bust of Sidney Smith that was to have been placed
in the lobby of the building. The members of the board did not think
it a good likeness of Smith, and Bissell had the sad task of telling
the artist that her work was rejected. There is still no bust of Smith
in the building.
built at this time were the north section of the University College
quadrangle, Victoria College's Margaret Addison residence, St. Michael's
College's Loretto College residence and John Kelly Library, Trinity
College's Chapel and the Gerald Larkin Building. At no period in the
University's history, writes Friedland, had so much building taken place
in so short a time.