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.
Roman Catholic St. Michael's College had been founded by the French
Basilians in 1852.
The Roman Catholic bishop of Toronto had been trained by the Basilians
in France, and he had invited four members of the thirty-member French-speaking
community to join the one member already in Toronto.
impressed by the wealth of the city, one of them writing that the houses
"have two or sometimes three stories, very beautiful on the exterior
but even more magnificent inside. Everywhere one sees carpets, armchairs,
sofas, stuffed chairs, splendid mirrors. Here no one ever waxes floors;
the corridors, even the stairs of the houses are carpeted."
Mathieu Soulerin, the founding superior of St. Michael's College,
had been invited earlier to establish the college but had declined,
even though John Elmsley, a convert to Catholicism, had offered them
some of his land. In 1853, this land was offered to the Basilians on
the condition that they erect a parish church along with a college.
St Basil's Church and the attached college on Clover Hill were the result.
The church and the college were officially opened in 1856, the oldest
surviving buildings in the university. It would not be until 1881 that
St Michael's would affiliate with its neighbour, the University of Toronto.
its affiliation with the University and 1910, when it was formally admitted
as a federated college, only some ten St Michael's students in total
received degrees from the University of Toronto.
members of the royal commission of 1906, such as Goldwin Smith and William
Meredith, were noted for their anti-Catholic views and may have wanted
to keep St Michael's as primarily a theological college. Some members
of the St Michael's community also probably wanted to keep it that way,
thinking that their first objective was to produce priests.
The youngest member
of the St Michael's staff, Father Henry Carr, wanted to bring St
Michael's more directly into the University.
youngest member of the St Michael's staff, Father Henry Carr, wanted
to bring St Michael's more directly into the University. He almost single-handedly
changed the St Michael's high school curriculum to make students eligible
for admission to the University. Before that, the high school had been
modelled on European classical lines, which may not have been a problem
for its many American students, who returned to the United States for
further study, but which barred Canadian students, who did not have
the necessary junior matriculation qualifications, from entering the
University of Toronto.
Teefy, a graduate of University College in 1871, who became a superior
of St. Michael's College, circa 1883
class graduating from St Michael's without the assistance of University
College was in 1911. That year, the university arts calendar for the
first time contained the name of St Michael's on its cover along with
those of the three other arts colleges. In 1912, the two women's Catholic
colleges, St Joseph's and Loretto, affiliated with St Michael's College,
and their students were able to take University of Toronto degrees through
St Michael's. It was not a co-educational program, however. The women's
colleges taught the college subjects. Not until 1952 did the sisters
give their lectures in St Michael's, and not until Carr Hall opened
in 1954 was St Michael's finally co-educational.
did not move to the campus until 1926, when it obtained the Christie
(of biscuit fame) grand residence at the north-east corner of Queen's
Park and Wellesley Street. Loretto College would not move to its present
location as a residence on the north side of St Mary Street until 1959.
Father Carr, who became president of St Michael's in 1915, had ambitious
plans for the college. In a letter to President Falconer the following
year, he stated that in "a comparatively short time" St Michael's
College could be made "the greatest Catholic education centre in
St. Michael's College and St. Basil's Church, circa 1870.