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

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Question

How many alumni chapters did the University of Toronto have in 1900?

Answer By the turn of the century there were 17 chapters across Canada. Today, U of T alumni worldwide number 369,436, not counting the 9,405 soon-to-be-alumni graduating this month.

On 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.

The University of Toronto Alumni Association cast a wide net. It included graduates and others who had attended "a whole session" at the University, as well as current members of the teaching staff and governing body. It also included undergraduates. The members were organized on the basis of local branches.

John McLennan
John McLennan

By the end of the first year of operation (1900), there were 17 branches. Physicist John McLennan attended twelve of the organizational meetings. In the summer of 1903, President James Loudon and McLennan travelled to the west coast to meet alumni. They were surprised at the number of Toronto graduates in the west. In Edmonton, for example, where they expected to find perhaps half a dozen, they met with thirty-five. McLennan used the occasion to promote graduate studies wherever he went, hoping that westerners would come to Toronto rather than go to the United States. By June 1904, there were 33 branches, 23 of them in Ontario.

1928 Great Hall alumni gathering
Alumni gathering at Hart House Great Hall, after 1928

In its first year, the association instituted the annual gathering of alumni at the June graduation exercises. Four hundred alumni attended a banquet in the gymnasium the night before graduation, June 1900. The new chancellor, Chief Justice William Meredith, welcomed the graduates, noting that the energetic secretary of the association, McLennan, would receive his PhD the following day. A garden party was held on the front campus after the graduation, and a moonlight boat cruise on Lake Ontario in the evening.


No doubt sitting through convocation in the examination hall of the School of Practical Science brought home to the alumni the idea that a proper convocation hall was required to replace the one that had been destroyed in the fire.

No doubt sitting through convocation in the examination hall of the School of Practical Science brought home to the alumni the idea that a proper convocation hall was required to replace the one that had been destroyed in the fire. That first year also saw the appearance of the University of Toronto Monthly. The first editor, assisted, of course, by the ubiquitous McLennan, was Professor I.H. Cameron, a medical graduate who had replaced Dean William Aikins in 1897 as the professor of surgery.

James Loudon
James Loudon

One rule established from the beginning was that all articles had to be signed. The University - and particularly Loudon - had had enough of unsigned attacks in the press. Within a couple of years a paid editor was hired, and the monthly continued in more or less the same form until after the Second World War, when it was incorporated into the new Varsity Graduate.

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