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.
would not get their own gymnasium until the Benson Building was constructed
in 1959. But they did obtain a playing field, at the corner of Queen's
Park and Bloor Street, for the "Ladies Tennis Club," founded
in 1893, and the use of the East Hall of University College for the
"Women's Fencing Club," founded in 1895.
Daniel Wilson would not permit co-educational sports activities, but
after his death in 1892 a number of co-educational sports events began
to take place, such as mixed doubles in tennis; and there were recreational
ice-skating rinks from 1896 and a co-educational golf club in 1898.
The golf club obtained permission to play throughout the university
property, and within a year a thirteen-hole course ranged over the northern
end of the University. Wilson would not have been pleased. Clara Benson,
after whom the 1959 women's gymnasium would be named, was a member of
both the golf and the tennis club as an undergraduate in the 1890s.
Five women graduated from U of T in the spring of 1885. Three of them
were among the group of women who had attended lectures in 1884-5, including
Ella Gardiner, who later became principal of Albert College in Belleville.
The other two graduates were the Brown sisters, who had chosen to complete
their education with private tutors and after graduation returned with
their family to Scotland.
of the women who graduated from University College in 1885, members
of the first graduating class that included women: from left to
right, Margaret Langley, May Bell Bald, and Ella Gardiner. Two daughters
of the Globe publisher George Brown, Margaret and Catherine, also
graduated in 1885, but their pictures were not included in the composite.
graduated the following year and later taught at Harbord Collegiate.
Nellie Spence, also in the first class, graduated in 1889 and became
head of English and history at Parkdale Collegiate. Henrietta Charles,
who had passed the entrance exams in 1879, did not graduate until 1888,
having interrupted her studies to teach in Ottawa. She later taught
mathematics at Humberside Collegiate. All three remained single. Both
Balmer and Spence became members of the university senate, and in 1937,
Spence received an honorary doctorate from the University.
the teaching of modern languages and English in high
schools, would be the path chosen by many of the early women graduates."
particularly the teaching of modern languages and English in high schools,
would be the path chosen by many of the early women graduates. By the
beginning of the First World War, 87 per cent of the students studying
modern languages and 64 per cent of those studying English at University
College were women. The number of women attending the University increased
significantly over the years. By 1892, there were more than a hundred
in arts, and this number doubled over each of the next two decades.
After their admission in 1884, women students became an increasingly
important part of university life. It would be another three-quarters
a century, however, before more than a handful of women would become
tenured members of the faculty.
women's intercollegiate hockey team, 1926. Marion Hilliard, later,
a well-known medical doctor at Women's College Hospital, is second
from the right.