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.
been assumed when the Baldwin Act of 1849 was introduced that the
University of Toronto would occupy the King's College property in Queen's
Park and, until it was completed, the legislative building on Front
Street. But things did not work out that way because, after fire had
destroyed the building housing parliament in Montreal, parliament returned
to Toronto for its sittings.
University of Toronto
was short of space.
As a result,
the University of Toronto was short of space. The east wing of King's
College, which had been used as a residence, was converted into lecture
rooms, administrative offices, a library, and a museum, as well as chemistry
professor Henry Croft's laboratory. The library consisted of about 4,500
books - somewhat smaller than the King's library had been, because the
books Bishop Strachan had acquired from the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge were transferred to Trinity College (along with the Duke of
for King's College on the site of the present legislative grounds,
of medicine was housed in a Greek revival brick building similar to
King's College, constructed in 1850 (later known as Moss Hall) on the
site of the present Medical Sciences Building. In addition, a house
was rented on Wellington Street for meetings of the senate and other
official university bodies.
As it turned out,
Ottawa was selected as the capital, but the old King's College site
was never returned to the University.
were invited to submit designs for the centre block at the old King's
College site, and once again Thomas Young was selected. He produced
an elegant design, but before anything could be done, the government
took over the site for a possible permanent parliament building for
the United Province of Canada, thinking that Toronto would become the
capital. As it turned out, Ottawa was selected as the capital, but the
old King's College site was never returned to the University. The building
was needed for a women's mental hospital.
Approach to King's College, now the site of the provincial legislative
buildings, viewed from present Queen Street, circa 1868
University was then forced to occupy the newly constructed medical building,
which was no longer required for the medical school (the government
had eliminated the medical faculty in 1853). The King's College building,
perhaps not inappropriately, was named 'The University Lunatic Asylum.'
The University obviously needed a new building. The magnificent University
College, the building of which commenced in 1856, would be the answer.