Interiors and Exteriors
Art and Design
Objects and Antiquities

Tuesday, November 20


The University of Toronto was founded in 1827 as King's College, the first (non-denominational) institution of higher learning in Upper Canada to adopted the European collegiate university model.  U of T was the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research.  The site of the first practical electron microscope was found here. Four Prime Ministers walked these hallowed halls where influential movements in literary criticism and communication theory were sparked.  U of T is still expanding, featured here is the old campus and an accompanying brief history of the buildings of this era.

University College was the first to join King's College in 1853.  Construction began in 1856, was completed in 1859, the resulting building partially burning down in 1890.  It is the oldest student government in Canada (literary and athletic society), and deemed a National Historic Site.  With an asymmetrical design thought to be picturesque and suitable to a Canadian scenery, the architecture is a combination of Gothic, Italian, Norman, Romanesque Revival, and Byzantine because the University and architects couldn't decide/agree on any single style.  University College and the quadrangle are associated with the Legend of Diabolos and Reznikoff, the 2 builders who have their faces in the gargoyle trim of the Croft Chapter House.  Said to have fought over a woman, Diabolos murdered Reznikoff and threw him in a well in the quadrangle where some believe Reznikoff haunted the area until human remains were found.  The cafe located in UC is named after Diabolos.  

Built beyond the confines of University College, Convocation Hall was completed to serve as a larger ceremonial auditorium.  The need for the new structure was made more evident after the fire at University College in 1890.  Built during a time of great change in technology, culture, and industry, the first corner stone was laid in 1904 and construction was completed 3 years later in 1907.  This domed rotunda combines a modern structure with influences from 18th century  neoclassical revival and 19th century Greek revival.  It still functions as the venue for the annual convocation ceremony, also acting as lecture hall, and hosting other academic and social events.  

Hart House was later founded in 1919 as a student centre, named after Hart Massey, father of Vincent Massey who commissioned Henry Sproatt to build this Gothic revival style building.  Inspired by the recreational life at Oxford University, Hart House has always been intended as a centre for cultural, intellectual and recreational activity.  Originally restricted to men only,  in the 1950s women protested against their exclusion and were finally allowed access in 1972.

Oh, to have walked the ivy decked avenues of this University.  Our paths took us to post-secondary institutions with less Harvard-esq infrastructure.  Perhaps this is for the best as a stroll through U of T still holds a cinematic and romantic quality, untainted by the trials and triumphs of our early 20's.

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