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.
Day, 1919, one year after the end of the war, the foundation stone for
a memorial tower was laid at the official opening of Hart House. The
planning by the Alumni Association for a memorial honouring those who
had served, and particularly those who had given their lives, had begun
immediately after the end of the war.
Gothic tower visible from any point on the campus was to be constructed.
A site immediately north of the main library on King's College Circle
was selected, but the board of governors wanted to keep the land for
the expansion of the library. Another site considered was one between
Convocation Hall and Knox College, but the board wanted to keep that
land for possible use as an administrative centre. So the decision was
made to situate the building on its present site.
'When the plaintive,
haunting notes dies away, the audience, as if by common consent,
remained still for some moments.'
At 4 o'clock
in the afternoon, the cornerstone for the tower was lowered into place,
and the governor general, the Duke of Devonshire, carefully smoothed
the mortar, telling the audience that 'though this Memorial, the great
name and the great tradition established for the University by those
who died will be handed down as long as the University endures.' A prayer
was offered by Canon Cody of the board, and the 'Last Post' was blown
by cavalry trumpeters. 'When the plaintive, haunting notes dies away,'
the Monthly noted, 'the audience, as if by common consent, remained
still for some moments. It was a fitting close to the simple, impressive
Soldiers' Tower, designed by Sproatt and Rolph, the architects of Hart
House, was not actually completed until 1924. The funds raised by the
alumni were to be used not only for the memorial tower but also for
scholarships and loans for the great number of returned veterans and
the families of those who had not returned.
been hoped that the federal government would assist the veterans with
funds for education, but it refused to do so, saying that education
was a provincial responsibility.
all foresee," Prime Minister Robert Borden wrote to President Robert
Falconer, "a tremendous outcry and disturbance of public opinion
if we should make general provision for assistance to students at universities
and should fail to make the like provision for vocational training for
assistance in embarking upon business enterprises, etc."
federal support, much of the money raised for the tower was needed for
loans and scholarships. Half the students who wrote the entrance exam
in engineering in 1919, for example, were ex-soldiers. By 1922, however,
most of the demand for support had been met, and construction began.
The planned 23-bell carillon was not put in place until 1927, the hundredth
anniversary of the University. Since then, 28 more bells have been added,
making a total today of 51 bells.