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.
House Theatre contributed to the cultural life both of the
University and of the wider community. In a production of three
one-act plays in November 1921, both Vincent Massey and his later well
known brother, the actor Raymond Massey, had leading roles, the sets
were designed by three members of the Group of Seven (Harris, Lismer,
and MacDonald), and the music for one of the plays was composed and
played by Healey Willan. During the academic year 1925-6, seventeen
plays were produced. The University of Toronto was becoming the centre
of cultural life in Toronto.
Hart House debate was held in 1924. Instead of using the
American debating style of prepared speeches judged by a special panel,
the House adopted a parliamentary style similar to that used at Oxford
and Cambridge in which wit, repartee, and heckling were encouraged along
with speeches from the floor.
At the end of the debate, the persons present divided into those who
supported the proposition debated and those who opposed it. The topic
of the first debate was "That this House views with confidence
the formation of a Labour government in England and would welcome the
development of a party of a similar character in Canada." At the
end of the debate, 184 supported the motion and 88 opposed it.
The most important
debate of the 1920s was undoubtedly in 1927, when Prime Minister
MacKenzie King was the principal speaker.
important debate of the 1920s was undoubtedly in 1927, when Prime Minister
MacKenzie King was the principal speaker. He had visited the House several
years earlier after a number of invitations to do so by Warden Bickersteth.
King had at first refused to come, according to Bickersteth, thinking
he was unwelcome because of his role in the strike thirty years earlier.
Bickersteth, however, reassured him that he would be warmly received.
The motion for the debate was that the House supported the recent Imperial
Conference favouring greater independence for the Dominions. More than
500 people squeezed into the debates room, which normally accommodated
350. Three hundred more were turned away.
King's speech, wrote Bickersteth, "was delivered with such keenness,
vigour, charm, humour and real enjoyment that it was a huge success,
listened to breathlessly by the packed House, who realized they were
listening to the Prime Minister of Canada defend a proposed agreement
which he had not even debated as yet at Ottawa." The House divided
408 to 125 in favour of the prime minister.
House, completed in 1919, and Soldiers' Tower, completed in 1924.